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Summer 2019 began with a false albacore run like we haven't seen for years. Big schools of FA gorged themselves on juvenile bay anchovies close to shore. When the albies moved farther out we concentrated more on redfish and jack crevalle sight-fishing along the beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the flats of Santa Rosa Sound. The big Spanish mackerel finally began showing up late in the season providing breathtaking action on 6wt tackle. Check out these photos from the summer season. Double click on the photos for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: Winter and Spring 2019, Fall 2018, Summer 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017, 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.

Target Rich Environment! This is what greeted us on a June 27 Project Healing Waters trip. Hundreds of false albacore were feeding on the surface a couple miles out from Pensacola Pass. Double click for a full page view of this fabulous sight.
Cliff Newton with a fine FA landed on a #8 bay anchovy imitation. The naturals were tiny. Even the usually dependable #6 gummy minnow was too big. We finally tried a #8 "slinky anchovy" invented by Matt Wegener and hooked up on almost every cast. The problem became stopping these powerful fish without breaking them off. We finally lost all our #8 flies and called it a day.
Don Smith was Cliff's fishing partner and held his own against these badass little tunas. Capt Eddie Woodall summed it up when he nicknamed them "bad little dudes"! Every fish takes you deep in the backing...a beautiful thing.

Here's Cliff with another shot of false albacore from June 27.

 

And a final photo of Don Smith. That little smile is about all the emotion you're gonna get from my friend Don...
The next week we were back to sight-fishing for redfish along the beach. The fish were picky, but on July 8 Sam Lewis coaxed this beauty to eat one of his own tan/white clouser minnows tied with yak hair.
Todd Gailey was in town with the family for some red snapper fishing on July 15. It was late in the season but the fish were cooperative. Here's Todd with Jake and Logan.
Jake Fanale and I sight-fishing for redfish July 16 on the flats of Santa Rosa Sound. In this photo we had moved a little farther out, and the fish were hard to spot. I picked out the targets, and young Jake made the casts.
A little earlier we spotted this fish in a foot of water, and Jake put the mojo on it. Fun to watch!
Here's a nice shot taken a couple days later offshore with a glassy Gulf of Mexico. That masked man is none other than Jake's younger brother Max Fanale.
The false albacore showed up again on July 19, but this time they were only a couple hundred yards off the beach. It was quite a scene. Thousands of false albacore, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish in a feeding frenzy bigger than a football field. As if that wasn't enough there were 100 pound tarpon rolling in the mix. This time the fish were happy to eat the usual #6 gummy minnows and Cowen's albie anchovies, and the challenge was keeping the fly away from the toothy critters. Here's a great shot of Larry Sisney with a "typical" FA from that day. Larry's a very stylish guy. Check out how his fly line matches the colors of the fish. Impressive.
Larry's fishing buddy Jerry Giles with his first of many false albacore landed that day. The thunderstorm in the background eventually blew us out of there but not before both Larry and Jerry landed more than their fair share.
Joe Young was on the boat Aug 5, and we hit our favorite grass flats looking for big Spanish mackerel. The 5 pound+ fish show up every August in a few spots around Santa Rosa Sound, and we blind-cast for them using clouser minnows, baitfish imitations, and poppers. The biggest Spanish weigh 8-9# and can easily bite through 60# mono. I prefer 26# nylon-coated wire tippet, and that's what Joe was using. As it turned out we were a week too early for the Spanish, but this pompano was eager to eat his tan/white clouser minnow. Pompano are generally leader-shy, and it's always a surprise to get one on wire. The fish was released unharmed.
The first week of August was all about jack crevalle, and we could count on them coming across our favorite sandbar in small groups and schools up to a hundred fish. These were the bigger sized jacks...25-30# brutes that climbed over each others' backs to crush poppers and topwater plugs. It was pretty darn choppy for the skiff on August 6, but Skip Dalton wanted to give it a try anyway. We weren't there 15 minutes when a nice school came by and Skip nailed this beauty on a big "Chug Bug".
Jay Lanier had an epic battle with this fish on August 9. We were anchored in 3' of water in sloppy 1-2' swells when the big school of jacks showed up. Jay, armed with the 12wt and a big popper, made a perfect backhand cast and this fish crushed the fly. While Jay's drag screamed I unclipper the anchor and fired up the motor to follow the fish. But before I could get the boat moving we got hit by a huge wake from the Pensacola Bay ferry and took a wave over the bow. We were left standing in inches of water as the jack crevalle headed for parts unknown. I pulled the drain plugs and followed the fish around crab trap buoys while Jay laid on the heat. After 30 minutes he finally got his jack to the boat, and we took the photo. There's a lot more to that story, but you had to be there...

The big Spanish finally showed up on August 15, and Bob Mecklenborg, Cincinnati, learned all about line burns and bruised knuckles. Bob landed over a dozen of these spectacular fish, and every one of them took him well into his backing. Quite a day for a guy who had never before seen his backing!

Here's a nice shot of Capt Dave Yelverton on August 21 with a picture-perfect redfish that was bold enough to eat a big chartreuse popper generally reserved for jack crevalle.
Nice shot of Dave's fish in 2' of water. There's a popper down there somewhere... Even though the fish inhaled it we were able to extract the barbless fly, and this redfish lived to fight another day.
Couple days later on a "scouting" trip Capt Dave and I found a school of redfish feasting on balls of bay anchovies on a big sand flat. The fish were so innocent and unsuspecting we were almost ashamed to catch them.
Tim English worked his butt off on August 28 trying to get a doggone redfish to eat. Fish after fish refused the fly until this one charged it from 15' away and sucked it down. Sometimes it's just a numbers game.
Peter Petruzzi finishes off the summer gallery with a nice shot of this adorable little fellow who has his whole life ahead of him. May he live long and prosper.

 

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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