Monday, October 24, 2011

Fly Fishing Pensacola - Day 1

I left bright and early on Saturday morning and headed over to Pensacola for my big solo fishing and camping expedition.  I had mainly three fish on my mind: redfish, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish.  Fall is supposed to be a good time of year for redfish, and the waters around Pensacola are supposed to be a good place to find them.  Also, I read that Spanish mackerel are abundant near Pensacola, and I've never caught one before.  Finally, I caught a big ladyfish the last time I was in Pensacola, and I was looking forward to doing battle again.

My first stop was wade fishing in Santa Rosa Sound, near Gulf Breeze.  It was only about 9:30 am, and it was probably around 60 F.  Being from Michigan, I tend to get cocky about the temperature down here - psh, I don't need waders, this is Florida!  In reality, the water was chilly and the wind was blowing hard.  Needless to say, I was quite cold.  There seemed to be no action on the flat, and I was only entertained by a couple of puffer fish, one of which puffed up while I was trying to get the fly out of his mouth, which caused me drop him and left him floating upside down, buoyed by his puffed up chest.  It was quite hilarious, but I didn't get a picture.

I moved on to the beach near Fort Pickens.  I'm never quite prepared for how beautiful the water is.

Two shades of blue
The fishing was slow here as well, but I was enjoying the the scenery.  I watched in awe as a group of huge rays patrolled the sandbar like giant underwater geese.  Eventually I managed to hook a fish - a dinner plate sized flounder.

More after the jump.

There's nothing wrong with flounder, especially one of this size, but I didn't come to Pensacola to catch flounder.  The air and water were still quite cold, so I decided to go set up camp and try again later.  Despite the disappointment, I left feeling slightly smug after talking to a group of bait fishermen who were fishless.

After setting up camp, I went to try my luck on the bay side of the island, by the fort.  Finally, I found some activity.  Tiny ladyfish were everywhere, and despite their small size, they were a blast to catch.

After catching my fill of ladyfish, I noticed that schools of mullet were cruising around with their mouths slurping at the surface of the water.  This was the time to try my mullet flies!  Of course, they weren't as excited about this idea as I was, and I never even got a bite.  Now that I think about it, the 20 lb tippet was probably quite conspicuous attached to a fly that looks like a bread crumb.  Eventually I called it a night and retired to my campsite.  All in all, it was a slightly disappointing day of fishing.  Fortunately, the best was yet to come...

Here are some other pictures I took of Fort Pickens and sunsets.


  1. Very nice! I especially liked the flounder.

    I love fishing around Ft. Pickens. If you really want to catch some spanish, you should have been in Pensacola about two months back. They're so thick in the summer that you could kill one with a rock.

    Have you ever gotten a mullet to take a mullet fly in saltwater? I've only heard of people catching them on hook and line in freshwater.

  2. Fort Pickens is great, and I managed to find some Spanish even in the fall! I have never gotten a mullet to take a fly, but I'm going to keep trying.