Well winter showed up this year a white wintery freeze with some of the harshest cold temps Ive ever experienced on the gulf coast. Frozen roads, white roof tops and icy banks not something you would picture when you think of Florida. Here in Pensacola we usually experience a cold snap or 2 but nothing like what we’ve seen this year, continuous hard freezes with temps dropping into the teens this is nothing short of dramatic and the fishing has followed suit.
With water temps reaching as low as 46 degrees one would think that the Speckled Trout and Red Fish would drop to “deep” holes hunker down and have lock Jaw…. But that is simply not the case finding fish as shallow as 2ft on the coldest of nights has been a solid attribute to this frosty spell. But targeting these fish up shallow does take a matter of patience, the bite can be hot and fierce but they key to success is the when and more importantly is the where. Putting those 2 key terms together are the building blocks to accruing some of the largest Speckled Trout bites we can only dream about until actually hooked up.
If numbers is your game and you want to fill the limits & some then as usual winter your best friend. Schools of Specks will absolutely ball up in tight areas and getting a bite on every cast becomes a commonality of fish in the 12-20” caliber. This winter has proven that commonality more then any other season that I could remember with the long harsh temp drops its only forced the fish to stage in winter “HOLES” those 6-12ft depressions; and keep them there day in and day out without very much transition. This year it seems as though once you found the staging area you can count on that area or spot to just keep replenishing itself.
Now here is my personal fishing story over the past 6 weeks…
Sometime early December the weather was decent in fact very tropical, temps in the 60s with the occasional rain fall. During this time I was finding plenty of reds and specks alike in the upper bays and flats outside of the rivers and bayous. Fishing these areas based on tidal swings. Whenever the current picked up is when I would target feeding fish and in low light conditions the top water bite was still very productive but hard plastics and soft plastics where always the main focus of any trip. Although I was catching fish shallow the fish were definitely not living there they would push up to the flats to feed for about a hour or two then move back out to wherever they came from. With that being said fishing flats with a more dramatic drop and or main body points was how I narrowed down the vast dessert of the flats. This was certainly a “ Transition Stage Pattern” ( when the fish are near Winter Staging areas and or moving in and out of winter staging areas ) -----
fast forward to Christmas and New Years time frame my Good Buddy Russ was here visiting me and during this time frame we still found some fish in those transitions areas but not nearly in the astronomical numbers that they were once in. As winter started to show its true colors with its icy blue temps the yella mouths showed themselves in very large gangs high and tight to “Deep Holes” exposing their position using a 3/8oz golden eye Jig Head and Limbo Slice color way Matrix Shad was the deal. In these areas it was NOT uncommon to land a Hybrid Bass, Large Mouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Bowfin, Red Fish, Mangrove Snapper, and Black Drum – I even landed my first Snook and Russ Jumped a 15lb Tarpon!!!! Once located these “Winter Staging Areas” are complete gold mines and every now and then they to can produce some very high quality Speckled Trout ( Russ with a 25.5” ) but for the most part its ACTION FILLED ADVENTURE with all sorts of species and box limits of fish.
Moving into January we are now in full blown ICE AGE with temps dropping into CRITICAL LOW we also kick off the PKS Winter Challenge ( Local kayak Tournament ) Right about this time 1st day of tournament we were just on the post side of a full moon and in the middle of a Harsh Cold Front. And the local anglers didn’t disappoint on day 1 night 1 specks where being entered in as high as 28” and Red Fish in the 38” class some TRUE PENSACOLA JA JA JA GIANTS and some die hard snowman anglers where proving that low temps = BIG FISH
Anglers catching Big BULL REDS on flats and bay bridges almost made it seem effortless with a little know how and motivation they got it done under the stars and rain during a blizzardly cold front. Chasing these fish during a outgoing tide seemed to be the deal while using a LIVE TARGET PIN FISH, 8” TWISTY TAIL GRUB, MARTIX SHAD, and an entire array of topwater lures. On the other side of the spectrum you have the Speckled Trout anglers searching high and low for Gator Trout.
Big Specks are another breed unlike their shorter counter schooling parts they seem to enjoy the harsh conditions and don’t run from the shallows but actually embrace the freeze. While all of Pensacola Florida is freezing over the mullet where the first to feel the effect. Large schools of mullet where dead and or dying many critters and birds where feasting on the effects and I for one believe that the bigger speckled trout hung around the shallows to indulge on the easy buffet. In order for any fish to take advantage of this shallow water buffet they needed some key elements to survive. Dark soft mud bottom is best in shallow water areas this time of year, it warms up fast and allows the fish to lay in camouflage. Adjacent deep main body water, this allows a quick escape route to beat the conditions when they are just too unsuitable. Unlike the mullet that die in the shallows the bigger predator’s will pull back but wont go far. Targeting Gators in these areas can be done day or night. In the day time I like a moving tide, overcast conditions, and pre or post front situations a full moon also always helps the cause…. Three days before and after has always been a good time to look. Same deal at night but I actually prefer the night bite, big fish seem to lay their guard down a little bit and it disguises our line and makes our lures look and feel more real for they don’t truly get a good look at it so the idea of getting a reaction strike is that much better.
All in all even though this winter has been extreme as far as the cold goes the fishing has still been as good as it gets, this winter alone Ive landed a Snook, 6.5ft Sturgeon, (Russ jumped a tarpon) and have caught more SPECKLED TROUT and Red Fish then I care to say – on charters and expedition trips alike. Until next time tight lines and Good Fishing
The Annual Red Fish Migration is here!!! From NOW until December the fishing has turned into catching and these Giant Reds are everywhere! The Pensacola Bay has turned Red!!
Fall is right around the corner, which means cooler water temps and a light jacket in the morning.
Fishing the sound and Pensacola Bay
this past week the fishing has been very good, with nice big Spanish hitting the deck and some slot reds. Mixed in with the Spanish are some big Skipjacks and Bluefish. Fall is one of my favorite times to fish, since the temperatures are more bearable, and the waters aren't as crowded. Most of the Spanish have been hitting Mann's little Georges slow-trolled on trout rods with 20lb braid and 50lb mono leader.
I have a few friends that have been fishing a few of the bridges in the afternoon and at night for big redfish, and they tell me you don't need to be right up on the bridge, that drifting out a fresh cut mullet or menhaden usually does the trick, as will a medium live shrimp or even a gulp. Trout fishing has been good, but it’s about to fire off with these cooler temps. MirrOlure’s 17MR or a Heddon Spook top-water Plug is a go to bait for big Trout. Look for mullet schools in depths of 2-5 ft work the baits slowly and have fun.
Lastly, lets not forget Flounder, October will be hear soon and I call it the Flounder Month, as it’s a great time to wade for Flounder. And my bait of choice is a Matrix Shad, on a ¼ to 3/8 oz jig head.
As you can tell, Pensacola in the fall is a great time to hit the water. Don't forget about the annual fall redfish run that's getting closer everyday. Starting around November 1st, hundreds of big reds will invade the panhandle, and you better be ready! I know I will be ready and raring to get out there with rod and reel in hand and a trusty Spro jig tied on. Those big reds won't know what hit them.
Tight Lines.. Capt. Josh
Pensacola Fishing Report - Rain and more more in the Panhandle has the water muddied up. The fishing has been tough, but no worries the fish are still biting. Redfish have been staging up under docks in deep holes from 3-7 ft of water. Live pinfish and cut mullet have worked well as well as a Matrix Shad on a 1/4 oz jig head. Specks are also being caught in both the sound and in big lagoon. MirrOlure 17MR has proven well in dark colors since the waters muddied up. Depths of fish are ranging in 4-7 ft, they moved out in to water that has less fresh water. Out in the Gulf the red snapper bite has been good along with Kings and Spanish.
Summer Break has arrived and even though it's gonna be hot, no worries, because the fishing is gonna be red hot as well. During the summer months we catch a variety of inshore species, including Trout, Redfish, Bluefish, Skipjacks, Jack Crevalle and Sharks.
All the fishing is done on the flats of Pensacola Bay, Escambia Bay, Pensacola Pass and just off the beaches. We only fish off the beaches when it's calm, so no worries on getting seasick.
Over the past month the inshore bite has been outstanding for trout and redfish. Tossing artificials like MirrOlure's 17MR has proven to do well with trout as well as the Matrix Shad bait that has taken the gulf coast by storm as a go-to bait for Trout and Redfish over the past 3 years.
Red fishing has also been very good on the flats, in Pensacola Pass and just along the beaches.
Matrix Shad in a variety of colors has proven to produce some nice slot reds. If you want to soak a bait, try cut mullet or cut ladyfish.
Sharks have shown up as the water has warmed up and they are tons of fun to catch on medium to medium heavy tackle. Most of the sharks range from 3 to 7 ft in length. Black Tips and Bull Sharks are what is usually caught on Shark Trips.
It's that time of year again when everyone is fishing for the striped, spiny, bucked tooth sheepies. The sheepshead bite has been hit and it’s been good.
Fish fishing the deep drop-offs in the pass and around the jetties have been very productive. With the mild winter, they showed up a bite early and it looks to be very good over the next few weeks for them.
Hopefully I'm right and we will enjoy a more consistent bite. Along with Speepshead, you can catch Redfish, and snappers in these areas.
Tight Lines and good fishing…Capt. Josh
Pensacola Fishing has been great for the bull reds as it usually is this time of year. So what else are we doing in our area this time of year? When we’re not chasing the bull reds in Pensacola Bay, we’re in the upper bay areas tossing Matrix Shad Baits on Trout and stalking reds when we see them in the shallows.
Fishing in the latter part of November and December can be a lot of fun; you just have to fish in between the cold fronts when it's not too windy.
Just remember when we get really cold fronts, give it a day or two for the fish to adjust and on the third day, the fish should be biting.
I'm keeping this Pensacola Fishing Report short because it's time to turn off the computer and go catch some big reds.
Tight Lines.. Josh
Fall Red Fishing has not yet started as of November 8th, but that’s ok, that means that it will be going on well into December and even January.
Since it’s been an unusually warm start for November, the big reds have not made their way into the bay like they usually do the first week of November. But don’t fret; there are still plenty of things to fish for. Slot reds, Trout, and especially Flounder. Flounder fishing in November is typically very good on the flats if you know where to look for them. I am happy to say that the bull reds are all over 3-Mile Bridge and you can usually catch a bunch at night. So long as you have a good tidal flow, you should have a great fishing trip no matter what species you are targeting. The wind may be kicking a bit, but if you watch your days, you can definitely get out to enjoy the milder temps and the less crowded waterways.
My prediction for when the big reds will show up will be November 11-13th, and once they show up, the rods will be bend and the drags will be singing.
Stay tuned for a more detailed report around November 20th.
Tight Lines, Capt. Josh
Fall is right around the corner and I’m excited for what will hopefully be some cooler fishing conditions.
Let’s talk about what happens in October, which when it comes to fishing, is a lot. The trout bite really fires off in the Santa Rosa Sound, Escambia Bay and Big Lagoon right around the end of September and the start of October. The redfish bite also fires off in the same areas and on the three bridges in the area, which are 3- Mile, Bob Sikes, and Garcon Bridge. Kings will also start to show up in Pensacola Bay and those are a lot of fun for sure for many anglers. Make sure you have some live bait, hit one of the bayous for some Menhaden, and rig them up with wire, and either free-line them out or fish with a large cork.
Spanish Mackerel are still around and will be here till November. Bluefish and Skipjacks are also going to be around till the middle of November. Night fishing on 3- Mile has already kicked off for big redfish and white trout, you can also catch some slot redfish on 3- Mile on your night trips, and don’t be surprised if you don’t see a few tarpon rolling by.
Fish the lights with live or artificials and have fun.
If you’re looking for an inshore trip in the Pensacola Beach, Navarre, or Perdido Key area,
give me a ring on my cell : 650-201-4604
August is winding down and it’s been another hot month with a little more rain than I liked. Spanish Mackerel have been thick in Pensacola Bay and just off the beaches. The Spanish are ok size, but usually the bigger fish show up in September.
These are a lot of fun on light tackle. I’ve also been fishing the flats before I go after the Spanish Mackerel. The flats have been ok, even thought it’s been a very hot August. The trout bite has been good from 5:30 am to about 7:30am and then it shuts off till the last two hours of daylight. The night bite is very good in August and the first couple weeks of September.
Fall is right around the corner and as always I am especially excited about the annual fall redfish run that starts in late October and lasts all winter till around mid March, with the best months being November & December.
I’ll post anther report the first week of September.
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Welcome to my website
Hi, I"m Capt. Joshua Lim I've been fishing since I could walk, growing up in a family who loved to fish you can say I was born to do this or better yet destined to. I honestly believe that everyone is born with some type of God given talent or passion and for me it was always easy to see that I loved fishing from day one.