I’m pretty sure that no matter what they calendar says that spring unofficially began this week! Pelagic species have started to make their annual appearance and the native species have started to inhabit their spring and summer habitat!
Inshore, the Spanish have finally made their appearance in Pensacola Bay. The reds and specks are on the flats following the schools of small baitfish that have finally begun to show up. You will still have to hunt around for them, but the hunt is getting easier and they are a lot more wide spread. Finding the bait is still the key, but working the flats in 1 to 3 feet of water during a moving tide increase your chances of hooking up with a redfish. The specks are also feed during the moving tide, but tend to be feeding in 3 plus feet of water. Several folks have reported catching them near the drop-offs adjacent to san or grass flats. This is a typical spring pattern for them that I expect will hold true until we start seeing summer water temps on the flats. As with last week artificial lures are working great such as small Yo-Zuri 3D minnows or Z-Man white or chartreuse fluke soft plastics rigged wheedles. Live shrimp, dollar size blue crabs, croakers and live finger mullet are the top baits for the reds and specks. There has also been an upsurge of sheepshead are being caught this week, with some of the best reports coming from folks fishing the Pensacola pass and the Ft. Pickens Pier.
Those fishing the surf and the Navarre pier continue to enjoy the outstanding Spanish mackerel bite that started last week. Pompano, bonita, redfish, sheepshead, black drum, whiting and sharks are also available. I am somewhat surprised that we have not even spotted a cobia yet, but that may be a side effect of the warmer than normal winter. Fishing from the surf seem to be somewhat more productive for those wanting to target pompano and whiting. Not sure why that is, but from the reports we are getting for everyone that’s the way it is right now and I don’t see that changing much in the next week
I have not received too many reports for folks heading offshore, but the ones I have received are pretty much confirming that the flounder are still being caught on the near shore wrecks. Bottom fishing is still producing the best results, with good numbers of keeper amberjacks are tearing up tackle on the offshore wrecks from as close in as 125ft to 250ft depths. Red grouper are on natural bottom as close in as 90 feet, but the best catches have come from folks fishing 120 to 230 foot depths. Mingo snapper, red porgies, scamp grouper, and lane snapper are also being landed by bottom fishermen. Don’t forget to have a couple spinning rods set up ready to pitch a live eel or a 2oz buck tail jig ready for a cobia in case one pops up. There have been a couple reported caught by both charter and private boats out of Destin this week. You folks targeting flounder should especially be on the lookout.
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