Sailfish.........Panama City 8/22/15

Finally got back down to the coast this past Saturday. Been a month & a half since we were last there and having bad saltwater withdrawals. Weather forecast was perfect; predicting calm seas.......had us dreaming of finally getting to go further out & load the boat with grouper. Little did we know, the Big Pond had other plans in store for us............

So, my buddy got to the marina Friday evening & was able to fix our transducer problem from our last trip. Got the boat put in the water, fueled up and even went for a late evening test drive. Arrived at the marina at 5:30 the next morning; loaded the boat and were pulling away from the dock right about 6am. Stopped & bought some minnows from Charlie & cleared the pass at 6:15am.

Beautiful sunrise in the bay as we left.

Went straight to some nearshore wrecks to catch some more bait to have a variety. Then settled in for the long ride out to your spots........headed 35-nm to the SE. Just beautiful water conditions......slick calm & we could just hammer down (26-kts). Got to the first spot at about 8:30am. We hopped from spot to spot to spot without much success. We caught one keeper vermillion at the first stop. Then caught two ARS’s (18" each) at another spot and immediately left thinking nothing but snapper were there. Another red snapper (19") at the next spot. And that was it. We couldn’t really buy a bite, any bite, much less find a grouper bite. We tried a variety of baits....cigs, grunts, pinfish, Rubies & squid. Some spots didn’t really show much on the bottom machine. Traveling between spots we did find a couple of small “humps” that appeared to have fish on them. We stopped & fished them ...... also to no avail. It was quickly approaching mid-day & we didn’t have much to show for our efforts.

Here’s one of our endangered snapper that had to go back.

Every time we moved from spot to spot, I’d put out a “panhandler” high speed lure & we’d pull it at about 12-kts hoping for a wahoo.........too many posts on here the last few years of that success, we just had to try it. :)

Around 12-noon, we had about a 2-mile run to our next spot so, out the panhandler went. I was standing next to the rod just keeping a lookout when my buddy told me we were about to our next bottom spot. So, I picked up the rod in anticipation of reeling it in as we slowed down. About that time........BAM!!!! The drag just started screaming. I could see a fish slashing the top of the water about 200-yds out. I’m yelling at my buddy: “Fish on!!!” Line is just peeling off the reel. I thought we were going to get spooled. We literally had less than 50-yards left on the reel. And just then, the fish leaped out of the water.....HUGE SAILFISH!!! And the chaos commenced.

My buddy did a great job of maneuvering the boat to help me catch up some line. It jumped 3-4 times way off in the distance. Just an awesome sight. We settled in for a long fight. At about the 20-minute mark we got it fairly close to the boat & it just took off again with the drag screaming. This happened about 3 different times......we’d get it close enough to see the leader & it’d take off again. Had one last jump (did a somersault) right next to the boat.......that was AWESOME!!!! Got it on video. We actually got some good underwater footage of it with the GoPro (will post it later this week after I download it & edit it).

Anyway, after about 40-45 minutes we got it to the boat & my buddy grabbed the bill & pulled it on board. Took some quick photos, measured it (61" from tip of bottom jaw to fork of tail) & back in the water it went. Only had it out of the water about 60 seconds or so. We held it next to the moving boat, got it revived & it swam off just beautifully. It was a great team effort. My buddy with constant boat maneuvering. The two other crew members clearing rods & gear and taking photos/video. Just an absolute EPIC experience. A once & a lifetime bucket list deal for us. We were beyond stoked. Had to come back down just to finish fishing the rest of the day.

We fished a couple more spots (ventured out to about the 42-nm mark) before calling it a day. I caught an Almaco Jack on a speed/knife jig at one spot. Then the last stop we got into some good AJ’s & Jack Crevalle. We could see the school of them way up off the bottom on our sonar; but, we couldn’t get them to take any live bait. But, every time we dropped that knife jig & did that speed jigging, they would nail it. We caught 2 keeper AJ’s (36" & 40"), a couple of undersized AJ’s and 2 or 3 Jack Crevalle. We’d never caught them before....WOW do they put up a fight & very pretty with the yellow fins. We ran out of time, otherwise we would have got our limit of AJ’s.

We called it a day & headed back in about 3:45pm to get to the marina before they closed. Still had to clean the boat & the fish.

Despite the slow bottom bite & no grouper, it was an epic day for us. That sailfish made our entire year! The AJ’s were fun as well. Our two other crew members really got a work out with those Jacks.

Will post video later.

Livin' the Dream !


  • Red FishRed Fish Posts: 1,163 Officer
    Awesome! Congrats on the sail. We are closing in on that time of the year were they will be getting more consistent.
    Genesis 27:3 - Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
  • upinthewaterupinthewater Posts: 202 Officer
    A fine report and fine catch! At least the weather was exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • wmflyfisherwmflyfisher Posts: 252 Officer
    WOW what an excellent report! Sounded epic. I bet those panhandler lures are hard to come by!!
  • LilOrangeLilOrange Posts: 1,137 Officer
    I bet those panhandler lures are hard to some by!!

    That's the only one we have. Half Hitch used to carry them. My understanding is that they were made by a local guy but he quit making them & Half Hitch can't get any more.

    Livin' the Dream !
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 7,829 Moderator
    Half hitch stocking them again... right after buddy and I had a mold made and ordered bunch of skirts.

    What was speed when sail hit?

    Cool trip!
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • LilOrangeLilOrange Posts: 1,137 Officer
    Half hitch stocking them again... right after buddy and I had a mold made and ordered bunch of skirts.

    What was speed when sail hit?

    Cool trip!

    That's good to know.


    Livin' the Dream !
  • LilOrangeLilOrange Posts: 1,137 Officer
    Finally finished downloading & editing the video of the sailfish we caught last weekend. Lost all of the footage from the early part of the hook up. Had to splice together some cell phone video with the GoPro footage. Still learning about this editing stuff. I'll try to post some video of the Jacks in a few days.

    Livin' the Dream !
  • wmflyfisherwmflyfisher Posts: 252 Officer
    That was awesome. Which GoPro do you have?
  • LilOrangeLilOrange Posts: 1,137 Officer
    That was awesome. Which GoPro do you have?

    Thanks. It's the GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition. I've had it about a year & a half. I just don't get to use it enough to really learn everything about it. It's pretty fun though.

    Livin' the Dream !
  • stingwraystingwray Posts: 725 Officer
    Nice work.... Success always makes those long rides back home seem a lot shorter.:thumbsup
  • lindalinda Posts: 130 Officer
    love this time of year congrats!!
  • BeckBeck Posts: 2,332 Captain
    Great report and congratulations on the sail. That's awesome!
  • KlingerKlinger Posts: 1,644 Captain
    Great fishing report, & congrats on the sail! They certainly do liven up the day :fishing
    In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame,two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.-- John Adams

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