My name is Nathan West.
I am 14 years old, and an avid angler for my age. I tournament fish out of Panama City Beach, FL, located just east of Destin. Some of the prettiest beaches are found here, this area is known for its famous fishery. Anglers travel all around the world to come here whether it be targeting grouper/snapper or going to find blue water and weed lines in search of pelagics. Here is a story of one of our fishing trips not too long ago.
Nate uses our limited edition blue Outfitter 22 to keep his catch fresh in the Florida heat.
After cleaning the boat Saturday afternoon we made the call to run 70 miles out to find blue water and weed lines the next morning. With the plan in pursuit we went to sleep early with the alarm clock set to wake us up at 2:30am. It was game on when we left the dock around 4:30am and made the 2 hour haul to get out to the spot. When we got there we put 2 high speed lures out in hope for a wahoo. 30 minutes later the reel went to screaming only to find out it was a 40lb class King Mackerel not the fish we were hoping for. After putting another high speed lure out it wasn’t minutes later the reel started screaming and we were in for a fight. I was hoping, “wahoo, wahoo’ wahoo!” Well, I got what I was hoping for but it was a smaller 20lb class wahoo. After high speed trolling another hour without luck we changed things up!
We went and looked for weed lines, when we found them we built our spread and had 8 rods out and the wait was on! After fighting off the barracudas we found a school of mahi mahi we caught a few of those. After the mahi left we had a huge blowup on a naked ballyhoo which was a 20lb class wahoo. Another hour trolling went by without any luck so we made the call to go hit some wrecks and try for AJ’s and grouper.
After a 30 minute run to the bottom spot we dropped a live hardtail down and seconds later the hardtail began to get nervous and, we felt just a strong thump and began reeling slowly, feeling weight, and then a head shake and then, reel-reel-reel, we got it up to the boat and it was about a 10lb red grouper…So now to amberjack jigging.
Amberjack jigging is a lot of work. It takes persistence and the ability to trust that your rod won’t snap when you have a 50lb amberjack trying to run back down into the wreck and break off and take your $10-15 jig with him. Amberjacks aka “Reef Donkey” are known for their ability to test an anglers gear out to the max. When you hook one you better stop him from getting back into the wreck because that’s where he is going to go.
If your looking forward to amberjack jigging go to your local tackle shop and tell them what you want to do and they will make sure you have the right gear to attempt to catch one of these fish.
Luckily it was flat and calm, making for an enjoyable ride home. Especially with some fish in the box. The wahoo bite is on around Panama City beach!More fun days to come on the water. Stay tuned!