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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 fall season. Double click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: Summer 2019, 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.

Tim 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, but the 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.
On 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.

The fish turned and lumbered out toward the deeper water while I tightened the drag on my Tibor Signature 5/6 reel. Of course there 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 150 feet out and rolled around on top like a big rainbow trout. I applied steady 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??

Capt 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 www.gulfbreezefishing.com.
Mike Youkee wore his fish repellent the following day, and the big redfish were nowhere to be found. We tried all the usual spots 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 gin-clear water...
Famous civil rights attorney Elden Rosenthal joined Mike for a few hours on an overcast October 30. We were 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 it turned 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...
"All 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.
Jonas 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 while Jonas 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 redfish.
And here's Mike's final bull redfish of the week. Giant redfish...tiny little spot. The last two days made the long trip from London worthwhile...
John 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.
Brothers 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 unharmed.
Mark Walters with the redfish of the day. Check out the belly on that fish! Loaded with menhaden...
Mike 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.
James 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.
Paul and Shelly Brockbank, Sundance, Utah, had a red letter day on November 20. We got skunked the day before in Pensacola Bay. Every time we found fish all the other boats descended on us and put the fish down. Spin anglers chunking lead jigs were hooking up all around 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 to find 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 when a large upwelling of nervous water appeared a few hundred yards away. We ran over there, killed the engine, and waited. Nothing happened for about 10 minutes, and we thought maybe we'd been hallucinating. 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, and we were the only boat in 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 a hog!

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!

 

The 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 redfish 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 glassy 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 trout.
Paul and Shelly were back on November 22 for the last day of their vacation. After a frustrating morning with too many boats in Pensacola 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 fly 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 line and 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!

Hard 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 fisheries on the planet. Here's a link: https://www.flywatertravel.com/destination/Jungle_Tarpon_Reserve.

This is an incredible fishery for intermediate to advanced fly anglers that are addicted to 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 Missile. It had to be 7' long, and the guide estimated it at 180#. I was awestruck, and still am!

For the week I jumped seventeen tarpon, and three of them were over 150#. The river is tannin-colored, but clear enough to see the fly 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 25' panga in position 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 patterns. 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 paid dividends.

 

You 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 Baz

   
   

 

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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