Panama City Beach Fish Species
Redfish: Year round.
Redfish are on the “staple” species pursued by all Gulf Coast guides. A hard fighting and often willing participant, the redfish is our go-to species! The smaller juvenile Redfish can be found in back bays and flats in the interior waterways of the St. Andrews Bay system, and the larger size, breeding population of “BULLS” can be found in and around the deeper passes. Most of our Panama City Beach Fishing Charters target redfish in the Panama City Pass, this is one of the primary species that our guides catch, these “Pass” redfish are the “BULLS”, they range from 10-30lbs or more
Our Panhandle Tarpon population in the Panama City Beach area is seasonal and migratory. Tarpon come inshore as spring water temps climb. As the fish group up they begin their pre-spawn habits and patterns. Our panama City Beach Bay Boats fish tarpon by sight fishing the migrating schools that swim and gather along our Beaches. We target these fish with both Light Tackle and Fly. Panama City Beach offers some world-class tarpon fishing, our bay boats are perfectly suited for this type of sight fishing. With “towers” over the center console your guide can spot these Migrating fish coming from long distances and prepare the angler to make the “shot”. Some of our guides work closely with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust Foundation to place state-of-the-art Satellite tags on the migrating adult fish. The information gained helps in conservation efforts for this great sportfish.
Also called “LING” or “Lemonfish” by locals this shark-looking fish makes its migratory showing along the Panama City Beaches in early spring. The typical approach to Cobia fishing is to cruise the sandbars and visually search for the west swimming fish. Cobia swim on the surface and are typically moving to the west. Once spotted anglers throw an array of different lures baits and flies to elicit a bite, everyone has their secret technique and style. Locals and captains along the Panhandle become Cobia-crazy in the spring awaiting the first fish to make it’s showing. Cobia is one of the best eating fish to bless our waters.
Jack Crevelle: March-Sept
Jack Crevelle make a showing along the shallow beaches of Panama City in the early spring. The jacks move inshore from their wintering wreck locations and prowl the sandbars hunting the returning mullet. Typical spring schools of jacks hold hundreds of fish averaging from 15-20 lbs. A Jack Crevelle is pound-for-pound one of the hardest fighting fish you can catch. We target the Jacks using surface plugs and Flies, a surface presentation is the BEST technique to entice a jack to attack, and one of the most FUN! The typical method of finding these fish in the spring is for our Bayboat guides to “run” the shallow sandbars from their center console towers and spot the large schools.
Also Known as “AJ’s”, Amberjack call near-shore wrecks and bottom structure their home. Our Panama City Beach guides have developed an exciting way to fish to these hard pulling fish. Once positioned over the structure the “AJ’s” can be brought to the surface (via undisclosed/secretive techniques) Each Captain has their own special recipe to do so… Once on the surface to Amberjacks are easily hooked with bait, lure or Fly, but be ready to PULL and put the brakes on before they head back down to the structure!
Red Snapper: May-August (June 1-July 15 )
Considered the King of “table fare” the red Snapper is one of the gulf’s standard reef/wreck species. In the last few years the Red Snapper has received a lot of attention from the Florida Fisheries department, regulation wars and overharvest have been associated with the species and it’s place among charter boat ice coolers has been unstable. Our guides have been the first to develop techniques to “bring-up” and even sight-fish these bottom dwellers. While typically the area fishing fleet only targets these fish during the “kill” season (June1-July15) Our Guides have been successfully practicing catch and release with these fish for years.
King Mackerel: May-October
A long time favorite among North Florida charter captains, the King Mackerel is one of the largest and fastest of the Mackerel family and commonly reaches 30-40 lbs. Nicknamed “Smokers” they are both hot on the reel and good in a wood smoker. King Mackerel can be teased up with live chum, trolled or live baited with Spinning tackle.
Spanish Mackerel: Feb-Sept
Huge masses of Spanish Mackerel invade or beaches and bays in early Spring. They can be seen “flipping” on the surface by the thousands. A popular way of fishing is trolling rigs with multiple lures or jigs. Spanish Mack’s are one of the favorite springtime species for our Bay Boat guides and offer a great target for family trips with Kids. Casting and fly-fishing is also very productive for this Toothy mackerel species.
Blacktip Shark: April-Oct
A rarely pursued species, the Blacktip is an incredible game fish that deserves more credit among anglers. Our preferred method is to “stake-out” or cruise the clear water beaches and spot the cruising sharks, then anglers cast a bait lure of fly in the path of these hunting predators. Once hooked the Blacktip puts on an incredible show of jumps and reel melting runs. Panama City Beach has a great population of these high-powered gamefish.
These strange fish are among the “Locals Favorite” list for table fair, a delicate flakey white fish that is hard to beat! Trippletail are found sporadically and are usually an accidental find. When specifically targeting these fish guides run likely waters inspecting crab-trap buoys and other flotsam. Trippletail have an unusual habit of laying on their side floating on the surface. They use this technique to attract small baitfish and shrimp to use their body as shelter. As the prey approaches to seek safety in the shadow of the tripletail, Bam, quickly snapped up by the floating predator.
Also know as “False Albacore” or “Albies”. These fish are a type of small Tuna and are very fast swimmers. The waters just off Panama City Beach drop off quickly and allow this somewhat pelagic species to come very close to the shallow beaches. Our typical way of targeting these fast moving fish is to spot the school s as they feed on the surface. A quick approach and cast into the “frenzy” assures a hook up. In the fall these fish can commonly enter into the Inshore bay waters around Panama City Beach
Large schools of Bluefish follow the Spring groups of Spanish Mackerel into the near shore system. Typically mixed in with the Spanish Mackerel these hyper aggressive fish can do some damage to tackle, baits and Flies. While no much for food fare these “chompers” offer lots of fun for all anglers.
Considered my many as one of the gulf’s tastiest table fish, the Pompano shows up in the early spring, the first catches of Pompano are a harbinger of warming Spring water temps and the many other species are usually right on their heels. Pompano are frequently caught steps away from the dry beach sand, their favorite food is a Moe Crab or “SandFlea” as they are locally known. In the Spring of the year the surfcasting pompano fisherman can be seen along most of our panama City Beaches. Another popular way to target these Permit like fish is to Stake out or wait in likely places along the beach and sight-fish the schools of approaching “pomps” as they swim down the beach> Flies and jigs are the best weapons for catching Pompano.
One of the first Species we see along the Gulf coast in early Spring. Sheepshead gather along jetties and bridges to gather for spawning and feeding. When they first show-up in these locations they offer fast and furious fishing action. While nearly impossible to target in these deeper areas with lures, they are extremely vulnerable to a well-hooked shrimp. Sheepshead offer great Family action for our clients visiting the Panama City Beach are in the spring and are a favorite for our young angles!
Flounder: Sept-Nov, prime
One if the best eating fish in the gulf and a species that takes a delicate approach to catch. Flounder gather in large numbers in the fall to begin their spawning ritual, passes and near shore wrecks become their location of choice. Angler using light jigs and or live bait can entice a subtle bite. While Flounder area in our waters year round, the fall gatherings present the best opportunities to target the species specifically.
Speckled Trout: Year round
“Specks” offer themselves for anglers year round, Live bait, lures and flies are all very productive techniques for our local Sea trout. Anglers visiting in the coldest winter months can also target these fish, One of our local bays has a Warm Water Discharge area that entices the trout to gather by the thousands. Some of the largest trout of the year can be found sulking around this Warm Water area.