Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fly Fishing Pensacola - Day 2

Sunday morning I was on the water by 7 am.  This time, I was wearing waders.  It was a very good decision.  I very briefly checked out the sound side before moving to the gulf beach.  I waded out past the sandbar, but once again, it was very quiet with no action in sight.  Just when I was starting to lose hope, I saw some splashing down the beach a ways.  In a matter of seconds, the water was boiling around me.  I didn't know right away what type of fish was having this feeding frenzy, but I quickly found out.  My first cast resulted in a strike, and I stripped in a fly that was half the fly it used to be.  Spanish!  The next cast resulted in a solid hook up, and after a spirited fight, I brought my first Spanish mackerel to hand.  I quickly lost count of how many Spanish mackerel I caught.  It was so easy, it was ridiculous.  The biggest challenge was the fact that I had to tie on a new fly every time the old one became nothing more than a hook.  Surprisingly, only once did a fish bite through my 20 lb tippet.  I managed to take a couple pictures despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was unhook each fish and start casting again.  

Most were around 17", the biggest was 19"

This is always difficult...

But Spanish mackerel weren't the only fish around.  Every once in a while, a hook up would result in a fish flying through the air and doing cartwheels.  Ladyfish!  Of the four ladyfish I hooked, one threw the hook, one broke me off at my tippet knot, and I landed two.  They were both about 22" long, and they gave my reel a serious work out.

Ladyfish are such a blast to catch.  I've never caught a tarpon, but watching these ladyfish fight reminded me so much of the videos I've seen of immature tarpon.  I can definitely see the family resemblance.

Eventually, the frenzied Spanish mackerel started to disperse, and the splashing became less frequent, but it was one of the greatest fishing experiences in my recent memory.  As mackerel go, they probably weren't even that big, but being able to catch a 17" fish on every cast is just insane.  It was about 2 hours of pure joy.

A couple of side notes.  There were a couple of bait fishers on the beach near me.  I don't think they caught anything.  This time I was feeling quite smug.  Also, this section of the beach is overlooked by an old gun battery - a very cool place to fish.  I took some pictures.

An odd looking rig being brought in with several escorts.  I think its well within range...
Great success!  Pensacola never disappoints.  I'll be back for sure.


  1. Awesome! Congrats on the Spanish. Looks like you got to them before they head out for winter.

    I tried quite a bit over the summer to land a King on the fly, but it never quite worked out.

    Did you keep any of the Spanish? They fry up great!

  2. I did not keep any of the Spanish. I wasn't prepared to keep fish - I'll have to do it next time.

    Where do you find kings? I'd love to give that a try as well.

  3. Right now the kings have apparently gotten up into the bay. During summer, they cruise along the edges of the second sand bar and around wrecks. That's where I usually catch them.

    Maybe next summer I'll luck out and get one on the fly.