Author: Patrick Meek
While some were still recovering from the aftermath of New Year's Eve, we were on the beach New Year's Day in search of some fresh seafood to take home for dinner.
The surf fishing conditions had been unfavorable due to over a week’s worth of rain we had received throughout the panhandle. On New Year's day, we struck out to Pensacola Beach to give it a shot. It was unusually warm for January 1st and we were greeted with so much fog you could have cut it with a knife.
"After about 3.5 hours without even a knock on any of the 5 lines we had out, I look over and see my wife's surf rod bending over.”
I found a break in the sandbar as best I could see due to the fog and once we got our surf rods set up and cast out in the trough, we waited. We had some good surf and the incoming tide. We continued waiting, but it was a very slow day and nothing was biting. After about 3.5 hours without even a knock on any of the 5 lines we had out, I look over and see my wife's surf rod bending over. I yell over to my wife who is collecting seashells of what’s happening and she immediately gets on her 10'6" Paraflex surf rod and starts fighting a nice fish that is taking some drag from the Van Staal 150 SXP that's loaded with 30# Bullbuster braid. After a short fight, she reels in a very nice 5 spotted 26" slot Redfish!
We continued fishing only to catch a few Whiting, but that was all that was meant to be for this warm and foggy New Year's Day.
“Sure, it's fun to be catching, but if you're not having a good time just being on the beach, then you're doing something wrong.”
Over the next few days, if it wasn't raining we were on the beach trying our luck. The water temps have been in the very low 60's and for the most part it has been reasonably warm for this time of year, but with all the rain we have had in Pensacola, I'm guessing the salinity level has been lower than normal because the bite has been very slow off the beach. Unfavorable conditions won't stop me from going to the beach to try my luck. Even though we've had so much rain and the gulf water was just as stained as chocolate milk, it never stopped us from trying. Sure, it's fun to be catching, but if you're not having a good time just being on the beach, then you're doing something wrong.
Finally, after a few consecutives days without rain, we gave it one last try before I had to head back to work offshore. We found our cut with a deep gut and baited up with fresh dead shrimp and fresh mullet and tossed out and waited. On one cast, I send it deep using one of my 12' surf rods using a double drop Pompano leader baited with peeled shrimp. We sat and waited and then within the first hour I look over and see my 12' surf rod doubled over. Fish on!!! I go over and grab my surf rod and whatever is on the other end continues pulling line. After nearly a 10 minute game of tug of war, I see a nice size Black Drum rolling in the water in front of me. After I landed the Black Drum, I was able to get a few pictures and a quick measurement of 36 inches before I released it back in the surf.
We continued fishing without much success the rest of the afternoon until the sun had set. As darkness approached us, so did the saltwater catfish. Just as soon as I had reeled in a catfish and was about to call it quits for the evening, my wife hears my new Van Staal VR50 that's loaded with 20# HI-Vis Yellow Bullbuster braid screaming major drag and yells for me to retrieve it. I grabbed the 9' surf rod that I had resting in my surf cart and let the battle begin. I was really excited to finally break in my new reel on what sounded and felt like a good quality fish.
My adrenaline was flowing and I loved hearing my new Van Staal drag while the fish was dumping Bullbuster braid off the reel. When the fight was over, I managed to land another 35" healthy Black Drum! After I released the Black Drum, we decided to call it a night and leave the beach on a good note.
After days of rain, stained water, and some discouraging attempts, it was good to put some quality fish back on the sand once again.
Until next time...
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