Another great report from our friend Alex Rella:
Just got back from a nice little 5 day vacation in the Panhandle at Port St. Joseph State Park. First of all what a beautiful area! Gin clear water with awesome beaches, HUGE sand dunes, and lots of great fishing. The park has to be one of top in the state. I has a nice deep water boatramp with slips, all the trout you could ever want right out the back yard. Also we stayed in a cabin that sleeps 6 for $100 a night right on the water, may be the best deal ever.
The crew was Frenchy, Sergio, Bryce and his lovely wife Brittany, my wife Blaire and I. We took the wives along so we had to adjust our normal schedule from fishing until we dropped, to something a little more accommodating for the ladies. So our game plan was to wake up, fish out the back yard in the morning, then cook breakfast before heading out on the water for a little half day fishing trip. Come back have lunch, offload gear, grab the wemens and post up on the beach for the afternoon. Needless to say we executed the game plan to perfection…..
Back door of the cabin:
Since none of us had fished the area all that much we pretty much stuck to the published reefs/wrecks that can be found online. I must say they have quite the American Red Snapper problem up there in the Panhandle. To think that novices could go up there and do what we did…….they really need to take a look their “stock assessment” methods and closures.
Anyhow, we have never really targeted Red Snapper but I have watched enough fishing shows to know if you chum they will come. We set up on a 200ft barge in about 70 feet of water, set out the chumbag and I start throwing out chunk up mullet. About 30 seconds later we couldn’t believe our eyes…..Up from the depths rises “endangered” Snapper EVERYEWERE and they were freaking HUGE! We pulled out our medium spinners and caught trashcan lid sized snapper till out arms were sore. Just throw in a few chunks and hide our hooked chunks in-between and hold on! Although we didn’t have a scale on board most of the larger fish we caught were in the 17-25lb range. Somehow in the malay we got water on the camera, which is a total bummer, because I really wanted to get a couple pics for the man room….
As difficult as it was to not sit there and chunk up snapper, Bryce talked us into using a morning to elicit some of his Mahi trolling expertise. So we slipped offshore (about two miles from the snapper spot) and set out the trolling rods. Wasn’t long before a rod doubles over, and Bryce reels in a nice Dolphin, Okay I’m a believer…..
We continue our troll and the lure I was watching gets absolutely crushed by a Mahi and Im hooked up, French takes the boat out of gear and another rod pops off, and Serge and I are doubled up! After doing the dosey doe around two hooked up fish, and two additional trolling lines halfway to Mexico we finally get all separated out. Serge gets his into the boat, and we spot another fish following mine. Bryce quickly grabs the pitch rod and loads up a live pinnie. Pinfish never stood a chance, as soon as he hit the water he was toast. Bryce and I both get our fish in, and we ended up with 4 nice Mahi in the 10-15lb range.
Had a great time at the beach as well, caught four Pomps which got baked whole for dinner. The pictures don’t really don’t do the beach justice it is gorgeous.
The last night of the trip we were all pretty worn out, but since I felt our livers were just now functioning at an optimum level I pulled out a mason jar full of ‘shine my pops dubbed “Hawthorne’s Finest”. Well it was some fine fire water indeed, and quite effective. We sipped it and passed it around…
Fast forward 20 minutes. The ‘shine jar is now empty. A porch full of seemingly well adjusted young adults has been transformed into a scene right out of Fear and Loathing. I personally became something called “Kenny Cheney(pictured below)” which I was told later is a beast that yarls out songs, wears women’s hats, wallows on the ground, and begs people to take pictures of him in various acts of stupidity. This beast also lacks any remorse, or regard for other humans. Good times……
We plan on doing it a couple months later next year when we don’t have to throw away all of those beautiful Red Snappers and keeper grouper.