Changing Seasons, Changing Fish in SoWal

November 2, 2015 by Larry Pentel

That time of the year with lots of changes going on at the beach and in the Gulf. The weather has been up and down the past 2 weeks with the remnants of a Pacific hurricane coming over into the Gulf and giving us some really high seas along with lots of rain and wind.

I've seen Jim Cantore on the TV at Panama City Beach yelling on about doom and gloom when it wasn't half as rough or windy. There was a small bloom of Red Tide about the same time just off Bay county to our east and the storm waters pushed it up onto the beach here and in Destin to a major bloom.

Luckily there was very minimal impact on the Gulf fish but with the algae right on the beach it got pushed up into most of the coastal dune lakes and into Destin Pass. The results was a very large fish kill in the Lakes and at Destin. The flood rains then pushed the dead fish out into the Gulf where they washed up along the beach.

The biggest species affected were mullet, followed by pinfish, catfish, gars, croakers and other brackish water fish. I never saw a dead reef fish or really any gulf fish. As soon as it calmed down and we we able to get offshore we were all relieved to find no adverse affect on the reefs, actually, bottom fishing is even better than prior to the storm. Still bait and mackerel along the beach as well.

After a few days of great fishing we are back to (regular) rough seas again. Today was scheduled to be the last day for Red Snapper season in 2015 but yesterday (Saturday) mornings trip turned out to be. There were 4 of us charter captians that launched yesterday morning and we all came in a little early, cutting about a half hour off our 4 hour trips for safety purposes. We had a great catch and my folks thanked me for "going ahead and letting us fill up the box quick so you could take your time cleaning all our fish"
as always, here are some pics from the calmer days for bragging rights.

The last Red Snappers of 2015 (with some big ones!) along with Jacks, Vermillion, gag Grouper and even a Flounder.

Red Snapper can't be kept ? No Problem ! Lots of action with Kings and a pile of Vermillion Snappers.

Another group that has folks coming for 2 days in the Fall every year to "fill the freezer" They book 2 mornings in a row and want to fish something fierce. This year had the 1st day calm and sunny, warm and wonderful and the 2nd morning breezy, bouncy cool and overcast but with similar catches.

The first days haul, limit Jacks and a limit of BIG Red Snappers. Short sleeves and sunshine.

The second day, another Jack and Snapper limit along with a Scamp, Red grouper and Flounder. Sweatshirts Too!

I guess that big Bull Shark got the message that Red Snappers were open on Saturdays too.... Gotta pay the landlord!

These guys had a great catch with a limit of Kings and a pile of Vermillions on the first calm day after a rough few but I forgot to put the nail board back in the truck.

A great haul of big Vermillions of an afternoon 3 hr... more than that still in the box.

Another long time group. Check out that Big Gag grouper for a bonus fish. Yes Guys... Chrisy landed that one too.

Well, my 4 seasons are Cobia, Snapper, Founder and Snowbird so it's about time to start chasing Flounders. I have caught a few by accident the past couple weeks. Capt Phil just had 2 folks the first day we got out after the "hurricane" so he targeted 'em for about half an hour after they had a vermillion limit and they got 4 of the tasty flatties. He was so worried the storm ran 'em off he just had to be sure they were here.

My first booked flounder trip isn't for a week but I'm sure I can talk some folks into chasing 'em prior to that. My son (William) took my other boat out to the edge on Friday and said there were plenty of Kings and Blackfins, just still deep from the storm.

The Vermillions seem to be as thick if not even bigger than they have been all year and while not everybody was able to land one it seemed the groupers actually tried to bite a little the past couple days. Looking to be a great new "season' ! Some one asked me yesterday how late in the year I fished. I told 'em "pretty much done by dark"..... always something fun and tasty to catch!

I would like to thank all the anglers who voted for me in the TDC's "perfect in South Walton" contest. It is wonderful honor to be called the best charter in SoWal, especially when we have so many really good captains. I'll keep trying to give it my all everyday the weather lets me and working on the boat and tackle the other days.

"God willing and the creek don't rise" I'll be fishing !!!


Larry Pentel's picture

Larry Pentel

Captain Larry Pentel is a native of South Walton, growing up just 300 yards from the beach. Having fished the local waters for over 40 years, he is very familiar with all the different types of local fish, their habits, and most importantly - their habitats. Captain Larry is the owner of Dead Fish Charters

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