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August 24, 2011

Secrets to the Florida Panhandle's Trophy Redfish

The waters near Port St. Joe hold Florida's biggest redfish.

Often overlooked as a premier fishing destination, the sleepy town of Port St. Joe elevates itself as a piscatorial power. Nestled in the elbow of Florida's panhandle along the Forgotten Coast, it's an oasis away from the usual crowds, hiding fish-friendly grounds like Indian Pass, St. Vincent Island, Cape San Blas and Apalachicola Bay and offering immediate access to the Gulf of Mexico.

The tiny town packs a big punch when it comes to fishing action, as myriad inshore species, such as tarpon, redfish, tripletail and seatrout, and offshore players, like king mackerel, amberjacks, groupers, snappers and sharks, make this quiet destination a big-time player in the sport-fishing arena. My trip to Port St. Joe in mid-August was spectacular, highlighted by hundreds of tarpon rolling and boiling in the bay, wild tripletail action around submerged structure, and offshore wreck pounding with speedy king mackerel, dogged amberjack, snapper and grouper.

My first day of fishing inshore with Capt. Trey Landry of Premier Sport Fishing Adventures had us eye to eye with tarpon sucking down bay anchovies and glass minnows, but only twice did we get them to hit a Storm Shad or a dead pogy bait before they did what tarpon do best: shake hooks. We spent the rest of the day casting small bucktails to sand trout and finding logs, pilings and buoys to pull tripletail off of.

The next day, under a searing 115-degree heat index, we hit some local wrecks five miles off. Live pogies free-lined on the surface attracted dozens of king macks, while the same baits dropped down to the wreck didn't make it past the amberjacks. In no time, we had both species jacked up enough to hit jigs on every drop. Look for redfish to invade the area during the upcoming fall months. No doubt, there's plenty of action to be had in Gulf County - don't forget the fishing potential of the Forgotten Coast!

 

Contact:
Gulf County Tourism - 850-229-7800 / www.visitgulf.com
Captain Trey Landry - 850-527-2659 / www.captaintrey.com