Florida Panhandle picks up

Constant rain and thunderstorms certainly make for some exciting fishing, that is, as long as the lightning stays away...

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Fishing along the Panhandle has really picked up the past few days. Fall is right around the corner and that means big redfish.

Constant rain and thunderstorms certainly make for some exciting fishing, that is, as long as the lightning stays away.

I had my first few trips after the oily aftermath of the summer of 2010 this past weekend, although I almost thought the weekend was going to be a bust, too. I had booked a couple of trips last week, but Mother Nature and her wicked sense of timing was not going to let that happen as a tropical storm was hanging around longer then expected. I finally saw the light at the end of the wet and wild tunnel, and couldn't wait to get me and the Mega-Bite back on the water.

My first trip was an inshore morning trip. I wanted to see how the trout bite was and I was not disappointed. We hit the water early that morning around 5:15am, and trout fished for a couple of hours before it got too hot. We didn't catch as many as I would have liked, but the quality was great. We boated around 15 trout with 6 being keepers that were all nice fish. Most of the fish were around 2 lbs, with one topping the scale around 3.4 lbs. I was using both live and artificial baits. The artificial bait that worked for us was MirrOlure's MirrOdine 17MR suspending twitch bait; we would switch that up with live pinfish under a popping cork. Both baits produced quality fish.

My second trip was a late afternoon trip and it started out a little wet. We had two big storms sitting right on top of us, so we had to take a small break from fishing until it was well past us. I'm all for fishing in a little rain, but lightning, fishing poles, and an aluminum tower don't make a good combination. So, as we watched the storm head offshore we slowly made our way back to the pass. The bite was pretty good, and we hooked a few nice reds, but we lost a few to hook pulls. We managed to get one nice keeper in the ice chest, but the prize of the day was a big bull at 41 inches. After the red bite slowed down in the pass, we made our way over to the shoals for some fun light-tackle ladyfish. These guys (or are they all gals?) look just like baby tarpon and they have the same spunk a big tarpon has. With every cast we hooked a fish; they averaged 2 -3 lbs apiece with a few even topping the scales at 4 -5 lbs. Ladyfish are tremendous jumpers, and they are sure to bring a smile to any angler's face with their powerful aerial acrobatics.

Another fish that has shown up just in time for the Labor Day grill is the tasty flounder. On Tuesday this week, I had a short trip and we found some flounders stacked up on a 40ft ledge. It was a nice surprise to see the flounders come up on what is usually my go-to redfish hole.

So let's sum up the end of the summer bite. It's still hot, and I don't just mean the temps! But with fall just around the corner, and hopefully some more moderate weather with it, we should still be able to enjoy some great fishing for all kinds of fish.

If you're planning a get away vacation to Pensacola Beach, Navarre, or Perdido Key, give me a shout and we'll get you hooked up on a fish of a lifetime.

_Mega-Bite Inshore Charters
Captain John Rivers
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www.megabiteinshore.com