Captain Doug is a United States Coast Guard Licensed Captain and FWC Licensed Charter Captain. He fishes the Apalachicola Bay just about everyday of the week. He is authorized to operate boats up to 100 tons (90 Ft.) up to 100 miles offshore but rarely leaves the bay and inland waters.
MARCH- APRIL 2020
Triple Tail are Moving In
I've seen Triple Tail for about a month now. At first they would not bite anything I threw at them which I believe is the result of cooler water temperature. Triple Tail like water Temps 84 Degrees and above. As the water temps have increased the smaller fish are starting to bite but the bigger guys are a little more bashful. I believe as we move into May we are gonna see some big fish in our area. I have had good success in Indian Pass area on bouys and poles. Remember just because you do not visually see a triple tail laying under a buoy does not mean he and his friends are not hanging out lower down the line.
Low Tide Fishing
Low tide fishing can be great fishing. I have always been partial to the incoming tide but realized quickly that as a Fishing Guide I have to be able to put people on fish anytime of the day. I knew what the fish were doing at high tide but what did they do at low tide. At high tide I will often bump the reeds and grass with a Jig head loaded with a Gulp or Curly Tail and do pretty good with Redfish and even Flounder. Redfish are generally sitting on the edge of the reeds or very far up in them, rock jetties and under or around docks.
At Low Tide This is Where I have found Redfish:
At Small Creek Mouths: As the water moves out, current will appear flowing out of these creek mouths. Redfish will sit in wait for food to flush from these creeks and water run offs.
10-20 ft. Away from the Reeds or Grass: As the water level decreases Redfish will move into a little deeper water away from the reeds in wait for food to flush out of the grass and also in wait to return to the grass when the high tide starts rolling back in.
Deeper Depressions Under Water: Look for wholes or depressions under the water in the area. Use your bottom machine to look for areas/spots that are much deeper in that area. At low tide fish will look for those areas to hangout until the water starts flowing back in. You may also need to just fish over an area to find these special spots.
Points: As the water is flowing out, you will see small water breaks and ripples on the points. Redfish will hangout in that current waiting for something delicious to flow by.
At Low Tide This is Where I fish for Trout:
3.5-4.5 ft. of Water: At low tide you may find yourself much farther from where you generally are, this depth is a rule of thumb that I use no matter where it puts me. The other day at low tide I found myself about 300 ft further away from the shore from where I fish at high tide, it always feels so wrong but its so right.
Deeper Depressions: I will work the area with 3.5-4.5 ft. of water consistently until I find the honey whole. The other day I worked an area for about 20-30 minutes with 2 clients and out of nowhere we hit about a 20 ' x 20' area and slayed them for about 30 minutes. They would not bite not even 3' outside that area. There was a depression there where they gathered in until the tide started moving back in. I marked this spot on my Lowrance so maybe it will save me some time the next go around.
From my experience Redfish act a little more skittish during low tide especially if the water is calm. I do not throw Popping corks or anything real aggressive. Once a Redfish is freaked out, he will run away. Paddle tails on a Flippin Hook or something that is low impact and not too aggressive is the way to go. I am still learning with this and any advice you have or bait recommendations will be greatly appreciated!
Big Trout Apalachiclola Bay
Much larger trout can be found in 3 to 4.5ft of water on points and in coves. Get in areas that have the underwater patches of grass. Make sure the tide is moving up or down, doesn’t really matter which way you just need moving water. I have caught some of the biggest trout in some of the roughest bay chop. Big Speckled Trout will be “splotchy” meaning you will not catch them in the same frequency as you would the much smaller trout. When you get on the small trout you can catch them one behind the other. Remember the bigger guys don’t always hang with the little guys as they often seek an entirely different food source. If your patient and cover an area well, you will most likely get big trout. A White Curly Tail on a Popping Cork with about an 18 inch leader does the trick. You can also throw a Gulp on a Jig Head and bounce it along the bottom. Feel free to throw your favorite MiroLure and remember to keep pressure on your line the whole time you bring this trout to the boat, I lost a monster the other day when I decided to get a better grip on my rod and gave slack. In our zone you can keep 5 Speckled Trout 15-19 inches, 1 per boat over 19 inches. Speckled Trout are fun to catch and a great fish to eat pan fried, deep fried, grilled or blackened.
The Triple Tail are Coming
I have seen and caught Triple Tail over the last couple weeks. At first, they were very skittish and ran from just about everything that I threw at them. They are starting to get a little feisty as the water temperatures ease above 80 degrees. Running from Buoy to Buoy on plane in your boat sight fishing is the wrong way to fish triple tail. This is maybe something you do when you don’t have a lot of time or maybe your heading to the ramp. The majority of your Triple Tail are not always up top but down at the bottom. Just because you do not see a Triple Tail laying up top below a crab buoy or shade, does not mean they are not down below. A commercial fisherman and friend of mine who generates about 50% of his income from Triple Tail taught me this. Triple Tail love shrimp but they love squid even better. I will use a small squid on a jig head and cast it right buy the buoy or shade. When he goes for it, give him some time to eat it and set the hook. I will also use a popping cork with a squid on a jog head, cast it beyond the buoy or shade and then slowly reel it close to your target.
The last few Redfish we caught I caught them in the flats along the edge of the grass as the tide was flowing in at the head of the bay. Their stomachs were full of crab and they were good slot size 18-17 inches. I was using a white curly tail on a ¼ ounce jig head throwing just inches off the grass and bouncing along the bottom about 20 ft out. I’ve got a few flounder like this also. Due to the flooding of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers which combine into the Apalachicola River in Chattahoochee, FL our bay was flooded with fresh water. Redfish can tolerate fresh water for a period, they will turn a gold color and then move out. Now the fresh water is moving out and waters are becoming clear again. As the water clears and the weather warms, I will begin to use different color artificial for catching Redfish. You can always catch Redfish at the Sikes Cut with a big shrimp on the bottom. I am not much of a bottom fisherman, it’s just not my style but it is very effective, and you are just about guaranteed a nice Redfish.
January - February 2020
I decided to swap out my Honda BF90 Outboard engine with a new Suzuki DF90 Outboard. Starting the season with a new engine seemed like the right thing to do. After making some prop pitch adjustments, I can cruise about 28 mph which is plenty fast for the area that I cover. I have also seen a significant decrease in fuel consumption depending on how I run it. If I run it hard, i'm not sure I get any better than my 2006 Honda BF 90. I have found a sweet spot around 4500 RPM and she does good o fuel. I sold my Honda to a friend who runs it about everyday with no trouble. Overall I have been impressed with the performance and quietness of the engine and glad I got it.
BAY LOOKS HORRIBLE
Apalachicola Bay has been muddy and full of fresh water. I knew this would effect my normal fishing routine so I went looking for the salt water making some runs out to where the water started to look normal in the bay and found some big speckled trout. I got Redfish thick at the head of the bay but I knew they would probably get weird on me after a while. They looked like goldfish and I just knew they would not tolerate those conditions much longer. I nailed about 30 Reds in 2 trips in this particular area and then they cut off on me.