Chasin’ The Sun co-hosts Capt. Justin Leake and Capt. Travis Holeman head out into the Gulf of Mexico on their first fishing trip since Hurricane Michael made landfall along the Northwest Florida coast. For local native Justin, getting back on the water brings a long-awaited sense of normalcy.

While inland recovery efforts continue, the duo hopes the fishery has already bounced back. As Justin explains, major storms often take the pressure off fisheries and shuffle fish around – actually making the fishing better. Travis pilots his new Latitude Tournament Boats Competitor 25 to an offshore reef to find out.

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red grouper

Upon arrival, one thing’s for sure: light tackle won’t cut it and, after a few broken lines, it’s time to gear up. “Sometimes you have to put the heat to ‘em and pick up the big sticks,” says Justin. The adjustment pays off when the heavier tackle helps land some nice red snapper.

A few miles farther out, the captains find another reef loaded with fish and Travis hauls in a beautiful red grouper. As the day comes to an end, a workout session with huge amberjacks – “reef donkeys” – leads to smiles, tired arms and the satisfaction of knowing that the fishery remains healthy even after the storm.

Also, Travis takes a helicopter flight for a bird’s eye view of the Panama City Beach coastline on Panhandle Helicopter.