Fall 2019 began
with clear water, cooling temperatures, and high expectations
for an epic redfish run. While waiting for the start of the Running
of the Bulls we spent our time poling and wading the
flats sight-fishing for redfish and trout. And as usual we had some
surprises... Here are the photos from the
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For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional
and Spring 2019, Fall
and Spring 2017, Fall
and Spring 2016 , Fall
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Marsh starts off the fall season on October 15 with the last
big Spanish mackerel of the year. October
is usually one of the best months of the year for the big Spanish,
season peaked early this year. This fish crushed
a chartreuse streamer, and Tim was lucky to get away with no line
burns. The Spanish are lots of fun on 8 and even 6wt tackle, and
they are terrific table fare when eaten that day.
October 21 Jonas and I spent a couple hours wading for redfish
on the north side of the island. It was calm, sunny, and the
water was a comfortable 78 degrees. Jonas had his
7wt, and I was using my wonderful little antique Sage RPL 6wt. After
covering a tenth of a mile Jonas had had a short strike
on an EP baitfish, and I had missed a strike on
a small clouser. There just weren't as many fish as we had
anticipated, and we were preparing to leave when we noticed a very
large fish coming down the beach toward us pushing a big wake. At
first I thought it was a shark and started backing out of the
knee-deep water, but as it got closer I saw it was one of those giant
black drum you occasionally see but can never hook. When
the fish was 20' away I started dropping the clouser minnow
in front of it hoping to have the fly sink directly in
front of its face. On the 4th or 5th try it worked, and I came tight
to the drum.
fish turned and lumbered out toward the deeper water while
I tightened the drag on my Tibor Signature 5/6 reel. Of course
was no way to stop the fish with 6wt tackle and 12# tippet, so I softly
played the fish as though it was barely hooked.
After about 10 minutes the big drum came up to the surface
out and rolled around on top like a big rainbow trout. I applied
pressure, and the fish swam back toward shore to see what the
problem was. I "helped" it as much as possible by backing
up to the
beach and keeping the line tight...gently coaxing the fish to continue
moving toward us. When it got into a foot of water I eased over and grabbed
it by the tail. The old fish seemed relaxed as I extracted the
hook and Jonas took the photos. One gentle push and it slowly cruised away.
Jonas and I just shook our heads. Did that really just happen??
Dave Yelverton on October 27 with the first bull redfish of the
season. The Running of the Bulls is
officially underway! For more on Capt Dave check out
Youkee wore his fish repellent the following day, and
the big redfish were nowhere to be found. We tried all the usual
with no success and finally shifted gears to sight-fishing the
flats. Hard to beat catching redfish of this quality on 8wt tackle
in a couple feet of
civil rights attorney Elden Rosenthal joined Mike for
a few hours on an overcast October 30.
hoping for the big redfish, but once again the fish were uncooperative.
At the end of the trip we made a final run to Pensacola
Pass to see if anything was going on out there. A mile short of
the pass we found active birds over a school of feeding fish, and
out to be false albacore. It was your basic miracle! There had
not been any FA in the bay since summer, and here was one
small school of hungry fish just for Elden. Could have been
payback for all the good work he did during his career. We landed
this fish and made a beeline for the dock so he could catch his
flight home. After dropping Elden off Mike and I ran back out there,
and the fish were gone never to be seen again...
comes to he who waits".
Finally on November 1 the bulls came to the surface for Mike
Youkee. This fish inhaled
a 5 1/2' gray/white deceiver.
Magnusson was on the boat that day, and while Mike fought his
first redfish Jonas hooked up. We carefully kept Mike's fish
in the net
brought his to the boat resulting in this "redfish double" photo.
Notice how Jonas moved into the foreground so his fish would look
bigger than Mike's. Gotta watch those Icelanders every minute...
Mike's success continued the following day with this spectacular
here's Mike's final bull redfish of the week. Giant redfish...tiny
little spot. The
two days made the long trip from London worthwhile...
Boles and John Jr were in town November 3 and 4 hoping for the
bulls. There were no fish to be found in
Pensacola Bay, so we ran out to the Gulf to see if we could get
lucky around the USS Massachusetts. On the way out we found
them on the Caucas Shoal, and John landed this beauty.
We fished hard all the next day, but the redfish never came to
the surface. The trip was basically over, and we were running in
when the water glassed off and the fish started crushing baitfish
on top. John Jr landed this beast on a little
trout rod within sight of the dock.
Dave and Mark Walters were in town November 7, and we split our
time looking for the big redfish and catching red
snappers. Here's Dave with a nice Pensacola Bay snapper released
Mark Walters with the redfish of the day. Check out the belly
on that fish! Loaded with menhaden...
Shields was the superstar on a cold, windy November 13. His dad
Russ and good friend Cooper Adams were on the boat armed with
fly tackle, but it was just too windy. Mike did all the heavy lifting
with a St Croix Avid series AS70MF rod, Shimano Stradic
2500 reel, and PowerPro 15# braid.
First fish to the net was this impressive black drum...
Next on the agenda was a big red drum. These fish are cousins,
but the redfish looks a lot less Neanderthal. Beautiful fish. Love
the blue edge to the tail.
Snead Finch aka: Big Snead paid us a visit November 18 during
the Running of the Bulls, and we were happy to put him
on some fish. Snead caught this fish on light spinning tackle, and
it took him about 20 minutes to bring it to the net. Mission accomplished.
and Shelly Brockbank, Sundance, Utah, had a red letter day on
November 20. We got skunked the day before in Pensacola Bay.
time we found fish all the other boats descended on us and put
the fish down. Spin anglers chunking lead jigs were hooking up
our boat, but the fish were too freaked out for us to have a chance
on fly. So the following day we rolled the dice and ran 15 miles
from all the other boats to an area known as The Orient hoping
fish that had not been abused. The water was glassy making
it easy to locate schools of menhaden daisy-chaining just below
the surface. We were drifting and blind-casting around the menhaden
appeared a few hundred
away. We ran over there, killed the engine, and waited. Nothing
happened for about 10 minutes, and we thought maybe we'd been
But then the upwelling reappeared a hundred
yards from the boat, and the bulls hit the surface. There were
a hundred redfish on top chasing and crushing menhaden,
sight! It was Fly-casters' Heaven, and it couldn't
have happened to a nicer couple. Paul put this first fish in the
boat. Man, what
After Paul landed his
fish we idled back into the midst of the feeding redfish. Shelly
made cast after cast into the fish, but
all they did was follow and refuse right at the boat. She was
using a big grey/white mullet imitation, and we switched her
to the same
chartreuse/white deceiver that Paul was using. That did the trick
as you can tell by the photo. Shelly's million-dollar
smile lets you know how it feels when the monkey gets off your
back... THAT's what I'm talking about!
fish were still blowing up a few hundred yards away, so we cranked
up and idled in their direction with Shelly on the bow and
Paul in the stern. Both put their flies into the melee, but this
time Paul got the take. We knew immediately that it was a
huge fish, and
Shelly cranked in leaving the stage for Paul. He landed it after
a half hour battle on his 9wt. Turned out to be the biggest bull
redfish of the season... 27#. We carefully weighed it in the
net and released it unharmed to go make lots of babies. This
was our fifth
of the afternoon, and Paul and Shelly decided that was enough.
They didn't want to be greedy and over-stress the
fish, so we packed it in and enjoyed the late-afternoon
boatride home. What's not to love about clients like that...
Mike Broughton was on the boat the following day, and we ran all
the way back down there once again hoping for the bulls. But they
never appeared. We ended up poling the flats looking
for slot-sized redfish, and Mike saved the day by landing this late-season
and Shelly were back on November 22 for the last day of their
vacation. After a frustrating morning
with too many boats in
Bay, we decided to make the long run back to the Orient. We were
making a pit stop when I got the call from my brother
Capt Dave. The fish were on top eight miles from us, and there
were no other boats. We ran down there as fast as the skiff would
and got there as the action was winding down. I idled toward a
small pod while Shelly set up on the bow and Paul stripped out
coiled it in the stern. I was watching Shelly's cast as the fish
made a quick turn to the right. As her fly fell behind them I saw
a tight-looped 80' cast rocketing out from the stern directly in
front of the fish. There was no doubt in my mind the fly was
going to land in the perfect position, and when I turned back
toward Paul the look of euphoria on his face told me he knew
it too. The fly hit the water, one strip, and BOOM! That look
on his face while the fly was in the air is etched in my memory...priceless!
to believe but a week later I was in Costa Rica sight-fishing
for giant tarpon along the banks of the Rio Frio. We were fishing
in Costa Rica's Jungle Tarpon
Reserve when I hooked this fish. For a 16 week season four
anglers per week get to experience one of the most exciting tarpon
a link: https://www.flywatertravel.com/destination/Jungle_Tarpon_Reserve.
This is an incredible
fishery for intermediate to advanced fly anglers that are addicted
the Silver King. It's impossible to accurately describe the thrill
of fishing for tarpon up to and exceeding 200 pounds in a river
the size of a Montana trout stream. The first fish
I hooked took the fly 30' from the boat and came out of the water
like a Polaris
be 7' long, and
the guide estimated it at 180#. I was awestruck, and still
the week I jumped seventeen tarpon, and three of them were
over 150#. The river is tannin-colored, but clear enough to see
in the first two feet. We searched for fish feeding along the banks
in pockets where in other situations you would expect to find
brown trout. Once we located a target the guides anchored the
where we could work the bank with one angler on the bow and
the other in the stern. The flies were small 1/0 and 2/0 baitfish
Leaders were 6-7' starting with a section of 30' mono connecting
to 3' of 80# bite tippet. Mono worked fine. You need to be
comfortable casting 60-70' both forehand and backhand with 12wt
tackle and an intermediate "slime" line. As always accurate casting
don't land many of the giants. I was lucky to land this small
50 pounder! It was my second trip down there and I'm looking forward
to going back.
And that wraps it up for 2019. Many
thanks to all of you who
came down to fish this year. I hope to see you next year. Capt
a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!
Breeze Guide Service
P.O. Box 251
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32562-0251 (USA)
Tel: 850.934.3292 or 850.261.9035 (cell)
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