Panama City Beach is known for its amazing fishing grounds. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour to do some inshore fishing or want to spend a whole day in the autumn sunshine casting for a monster sailfish on a deep sea charter, late August and September offer some of the best angling on the panhandle. With crowds dropping considerably after Labor Day, now is the time to plan your Florida fishing vacation in Panama City Beach.
Deep Sea Fishing
Dolphin is one of the more popular fish in the Gulf. Look for diving birds and floating debris, and you’ll likely bump across dolphin. Best caught by trolling between 4 and 8 knots with feathers, live cigar minnows, ballyhoo, or herring. If you prefer lures, smaller ones tend to catch more dolphin than larger ones.
Wahoo are found along deep water wrecks and weed lines. Downriggers and outriggers are an effective tool for allowing you to fish multiple lines at multiple depths, running along a thermocline where bait fish are located. Wahoo can also be caught trolling 5 to 8 knots with deep running plugs, soft head lure or a ballyhoo rigged on an Islander.
Yellowfin Tuna bite all year, but tend to venture closer to home May through November. Watch for diving birds working bait or porpoises as they are often found swimming among large pods. Ranging in size from small football to well over 200 pounds, they can be caught trolling cedar plugs, ballyhoo and bullet head lures.
Marlin are sometimes difficult to find, but a great Captain familiar with the waters often know where these fighting fish are biting. Marlin prefer weed lines where bait fish congregate. These fish general hit ballyhoo, large acrylic lures, squid or live bridled bonita.
Vermillion Snapper, also known as beeliners or mingo snapper generally range in size from 1 to 3 pounds and are great tablefare. Biting all year round, they’re best baited with bonita, northern mackerel or squid cut in one-inch chunks. They tend to congregate in 50 to 175 feet of water near wrecks or reefs.
Amberjack is another crowd favorite. They tend to be found around wrecks rather than the natural bottom in 50 to 400 feet of water. They seem to prefer hardtails, pinfish, and live cigar minnows, but when they’re acting picky, try working them with large swimbaits or butterfly jigs.
Red Grouper are a great fighting fish and unlike other bottom dwellers, they seem to bite better on trash bait. A lazy fish, they don’t typically bite live baits that attract other grouper. Try using butterflied vermillion snapper or frozen northern mackerel in 50 to 150 feet of water.
Near Shore Fishing
Sailfish are a great trophy fish. This time of year they tend to be biting along wrecks and beach reefs. Often hooked accidentally by anglers fishing for kings or blackfin tuna, some anglers find success using an offshore spread of squid chains, ballyhoo and teasers.
Sharks bite all year long. Baiting sharks is as easy mixing a batch of chum and using some for a chum bag and some for tossing overboard. Pick out an area of natural bottom or a large wreck with plenty of bait fish where sharks would be cruising to lay your chum line. Be sure to have an 80 pound rod and reel combo spooled with 80 or 100 pound line braid or mono. Use a lead of 150 to 250 pound wire with a 12/0 to 16/0 circle.
Blackfin Tuna are on the move in the autumn. Chum over wrecks and deepwater ledges or use live bait of pinfish, cigar minnows or herring. Some anglers also find success with butterfly jigging. Within the 1 to 10 mile range of shore, they’re often found chasing schools of bait fish and can be caught trolling with live cigar minnows.
King Mackerel are a steady catch this time of year and one of the popular targets for many anglers. Downriggers running along the thermocline where bait fish congregate, usually 25 to 100 feet below the surface, is where you’ll have the most success.
Whether you’re looking for a day of sight fishing; catch, photo, and release, to fill your cooler with the day’s limit or hook that monster for your trophy wall, AQUATIC ADVENTURES is your one stop for fishing charters. Both nearshore and deep sea fishing charters include licensing, tackle, bait, and rods and reels, so you’ve got nothing to worry about on your vacation except relaxing and enjoying the fishing.
Our experienced Captain and crew pride themselves on offering you and your friends and family the best fishing experience in Panama City Beach, filled with excitement you’ll be talking about for years to come. Give us a call, stop by Lighthouse Marina or use our convenient online feature to book your fishing adventure today!