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Fall 2017 was challenging due to a very active storm season. Three Tropical Storms or Hurricanes caused problems but we had enough nice days to keep our clients happy. We had some fabulous action with the giant Spanish mackerel in September and October, and the flats sight-fishing for redfish and trout was good all season. The "Running of the Bulls" started November 1 and lasted for a month. These are some of the most spectacular redfish you'll ever see, and everybody likes to have their photo taken with their "redfish of a lifetime". Check out these pics of happy anglers from the fall. Double-click the thumbnails for full-page photos. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: Summer 2017, Winter and Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Summer 2016, Winter and Spring 2016 , Fall 2015, Summer 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2015, Fall 2014, Summer 2014, Spring 2014, Winter 2014, :Fall 2013, Summer 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2013, Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2012, Fall 2011, Summer 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2011, Fall 2010, Summer 2010, Spring 2010, Winter 2010, Fall 2009,Summer 2009, Spring 2009, Winter 2009, Fall 2008, Summer 2008, Spring 2008, Winter 2008, Fall 2007, Summer 2007, Spring 2007, Winter 2007, Fall 2006, Summer 2006, Spring 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2005, Summer 2005, Fall 2005. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

Mitch Wayte kicks off the fall gallery with a killer Spanish mackerel on a glassy calm September 29. Mitch was throwing topwater plugs on light spinning tackle, and the big Spanish were crushing them. These fish weigh 6-7 pounds, hit like exploding depth charges, and run off a hundred yards of line in seconds.
Larry Sisney on October 11 with another fine Spanish mackerel landed on his 8wt and a sz 4 red/white popper. Good thing he was wearing that stripping guard!
Here's Aaron Davis, October 12, on a Project Healing Waters trip with his first saltwater fish on fly. Aaron was blind casting a chartreuse clouser minnow for Spanish mackerel when this pompano ate the fly. The normally leader-shy pompano move onto the grass beds of Santa Rosa Sound in the fall, and we catch them on our Spanish mackerel leaders consisting of 80# mono or wire bite tippet. Go figure.
This fish was a game changer for Aaron. He had no idea what all the fuss was about until the 7 pound Spanish hammered his fly and streaked out over a hundred yards of backing. As the fish exploded away from the boat we could hear the fly line sizzling through the water throwing a 10" roostertail. It was quite a thrill for Aaron who had the line burns and bruised knuckles to prove it!
Kevin Howard on October 13 having a blast as always. The photo didn't do this fish justice...Spanish mackerel weighed 6.5 pounds on the bogagrip.
Milum Testerman, Rogersville, TN, with an impressive ladyfish on October 17. Ladyfish like this 3-4 pounder are here in good numbers during September and October providing hot topwater action on 6-8wt tackle.
How about a 5# flounder on fly! Milum was blind-casting a tan/white clouser for trout when this doormat ate it. It's the all-time boat record flounder on fly, and we carefully extracted the barbless fly and released the fish unharmed.
Dave Walters was in town October 26, and we had one of our best-ever days sight-fishing the flats in Santa Rosa Sound. With glassy water and bright sunshine all the options were open to us. We began poling the flats on the south side of the Gulf Breeze peninsula where Dave hooked three and landed two shallow-water redfish. We had a perfect setup for this fish. The sun was at our back and the fish was cruising the shallows in front of us making us invisible. Dave laid the EP baitfish six feet in front of the fish, and it swam over and ate it without hesitation. The redfish was over 28"...quite a fish in 2 1/2' of water.
Nice shot of the release in slightly off-color water...
We moved to one of our favorite Spanish mackerel spots, and Dave had a blast with fish of this quality on his 8wt Sage ONE.
After lunch we headed east and found crystal-clear water halfway to Navarre Beach. The flats were beautiful in the afternoon sun, and we poled until the sun got too low to see fish. There were plenty of skittish redfish and trout, and Dave coaxed this one to eat the old faithful EP baitfish. Check out the colors in this fish's tail!
Interesting colors on this late-season speckled trout, too. The smaller trout move off the flats when the water temperature drops below 70 degrees, but the bigger fish remain until December. This fish was right at 20".
Pam and Sandy Loveless were hoping to find some early bull redfish action on November 1, and they weren't disappointed. Here's a great shot of Pam and a brilliantly lit-up redfish...the first of the season. The Running of the Bulls is officially underway, and Pam is the official centerfold!
Sandy followed suit a little later with another beauty.
And we finished the day with a bull redfish double!
A couple days later we couldn't find the big fish on top, so we pulled in close to shore to try for "slot sized" fish. Pam was blind-casting a GULP shrimp along the outside of a grass bed in 4-5' of water when this monster crushed her bait. She was using a St Croix Avid Series spinning rod, Shimano Stradic 2500 reel, and 15# PowerPro braid. The fight lasted 30 minutes! That's a lot of redfish on 15# line...
Later in the afternoon the water glassed off, and Sandy and Pam caught fish of this quality until their arms were tired. Another redfish double on a spectacular, sunny November day.
Here's Sandy with his best fish of the day...

 

Clay Bush was in town for the Gulf Coast Arts Festival and squeezed in some time November 6 for a little redfish sight-fishing in Santa Rosa Sound. Here's an artsy tail shot of Clay's first-ever redfish on fly.

What's this? Looks like a Bahamas bonefish! Famous fly-casting instructor Jonas Magnusson, Mike Youkee, and I left during the heart of the Running of the Bulls for a week of bonefishing at Water Cay. Man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
On November 17 there were forty boats looking for the bull redfish in Pensacola Bay, so we ran to the Gulf of Mexico and found the big fish on top a few miles west of Pensacola Pass. We had them all to ourselves for a while before some other boats saw us "bowed up" and joined in the fun. Here's Evan Muskopf, General Manager for Feather-craft in St Louis, with the first fish of the day and his first-ever bull redfish on fly.
Ted Calcaterra also from St Louis with his biggest fish of the day landed on a 4/0 white popper tied by Ben Walters of Eastern Fly Outfitters. Hard to beat the adrenaline rush of dropping a big popper into the midst of a hundred surface-feeding bull redfish!

Is life good or what! Evan and Ted with a fine bull redfish double on a bluebird day along the shores of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

 

It was Saturday, November 18, and there were fifty boats in Pensacola Bay looking for bull redfish when a nice bunch of fish popped up in Santa Rosa Sound due N of the Pegleg Pete's channel. As luck would have it we were just pulling out of the channel, saw the fish first, and were on them before any other boats realized what was going on. Robert Spotswood was ready with the 10wt, made a beautiful cast with the boat still moving, and immediately hooked into this picture-perfect redfish...a bona fide hog. What a way to start the day! That's none other than Hobart McWhorter in the background managing the operation...
Here's looking at you, kid. The masked man is Tom Stucker, Walnut Creek, CA, with his first bull red on November 21. Double click for the full photo.
The fish were scarce the following day but we finally found a few schools later in the afternoon, and Tom boated this beauty. That's how it is with these big fish. If you have the patience to wait them out you are many times rewarded with a "redfish of a lifetime"...
Dave and Mark Walters got their annual bull redfish fix on November 27. Conditions were perfect and the fish were active. Here's Mark with his first fish landed on spinning gear.
Dave was at it again throwing a big popper on his 8' Sage 12wt that's actually designed for bass. It's amazing how nicely the shorter rod handles these brutes. Double click for a "magazine quality" look at this magnificent fish.
The next day Mark and Dave decided to forego the bull redfish madness for the serenity and challenge of the flats. As usual it was very technical fishing requiring long casts and delicate presentations to wary fish in a couple feet of gin-clear water. They'll spook in a heartbeat to any quick movements in the boat, sound of the pushpole hitting the bottom, shadow of the fly line, etc. And then of course there's having a fly they're interested in. It was the EP gray/white baitfish that worked for Dave. Nice thing about that fly is it lands like a feather and sinks so slowly it's almost suspended in the water column. When it all comes together it's very satisfying...
Richard Stewart brought his brother-in-law Larry Schmeder down on December 1 hoping it wasn't too late for the bulls. As it turned out the schools of big fish vacated the bay earlier than in prior years, but we found an incredible school milling around on the surface a few miles west of Pensacola Pass. They were acting much more like it was a spawning ritual than a feeding frenzy. We took a short video as we approached the school. This is a shot of Richard with his biggest-ever redfish on fly. You'll see him preparing to make the cast in the video. Talk about an exciting couple minutes! Check it out here.
Larry had no problem casting the 12wt for the first time. Both he and Richard landed five redfish of this quality before we finally lost sight of the school. We had them all to ourselves for an hour or so before calling a couple guide buddies who were struggling trying to find fish in the bay. How about that glassy water! Not bad for December. Here's another short video of Larry's hookup...
Gary Pheabus and his long-time fishing buddy Ed Null were on the boat on a cool, calm December 15. We ran straight to the Gulf hoping to find some black drum around a small wreck in 8-10' of water. The fish were there, and both Gary and Ed landed 25 pounders on light spinning tackle. Here's Gary with the first fish.
Ed Null with another impressive black drum landed on light spinning tackle, 15# PowerPro, and a SPRO bucktail jig.
Stephanie and Mike Kusch found the black drum again on a spectacular December 29. We had light winds, clear water, plenty of sunshine, and the fish were right where they were supposed to be. The problem was getting them to eat. Mike had the 10wt with a sinking line and a #2 tan/white clouser minnow. Stephanie was throwing a SPRO bucktail jig on light spinning tackle. They ran the fly and jig over and over through the school with no interest. Then Mike changed his strip to something he called the "yo yo" and got the first take of the day. He lost that fish and immediately hooked another which he fought for 15 minutes before it came unbuttoned. Still nothing for Steph until Mike instructed her on the yo yo action. During the next ninety minutes she put on a clinic landing four of these monsters with each one taking 15-20 minutes. Mike never got another take. This is Steph Kusch with black drum number 2.
Here's Steph again with drum #3 which weighed close to thirty pounds...her biggest fish of the day.
Dane Vansant, Birmingham, was up for some big-game sight-fishing with his 8wt on December 30. We found the black drum again and spent over an hour trying to get them to eat the fly. No luck. We gave up on them and poled the Gulf shoreline for another hour or so looking for redfish. Nada. Finally we checked out a couple inside flats close to the Gulf and found a few schools of big fish, but they wouldn't take the usual tan/white clouser minnow. Finally we switched to the secret fly, and this redfish ate it without hesitating. Whew! It's always nice to get the monkey off your back. Way to go, Dane.
Bob Jenkins was in town from Colorado for his annual winter trip, and we found some fish close to the pass where we've caught them in prior winters. This year the fish were unusually picky, and Jenkins had his hands full trying to get one to eat. He finally coaxed this fish to eat a tan/white clouser. This was an old fish who should've known better. Look at that "beat up" tail...
And that brings the fall gallery and 2017 to a close. Thanks to everybody for coming this year, and I hope to see you again in 2018. Remember there's no fishing for bonefish off the Staniel Cay bridge! Just gotta love the Bahamas...

 

Itís always a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!

Gulf Breeze Guide Service
P.O. Box 251
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32562-0251 (USA)
Tel: 850.934.3292 or 850.261.9035 (cell)
Email:
gbgsfishing@aol.com

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