Savvy anglers know that big reds crushing topwater baits is a thrill not to be missed. “Nowhere in the world will you find giant redfish on topwater like here in Panama City Beach,” says Captain Justin Leake. “When they move into areas where crabs are feeding, look out – it’s game on!
Justin is joined by his lifelong friend, Capt. Matt Smith, one of the few local fishing guides that fishes the inshore bay system exclusively. Since birds are not pinpointing fishing hotspots by bombing the water’s surface for baitfish, it’s a sign that the crab hatch is underway and time for the captains to shift gears.
“As an angler, you’re a master of observation,” says Capt. Travis Holeman. “You observe the environment and adjust appropriately to catch fish – and always try different things.”
Science, art and even a bit of luck steer Justin and Matt to the right place at the right time. Soon, “Clover” – the nickname Matt gave his lucky buddy Justin in childhood – hooks a beast that just might be the biggest redfish he’s ever caught on camera.
Later, “Clover” Leake and hard-charging “T-Bone” Holeman put the pedal to the metal in a mad dash to the finish line at Kartona, Panama City Beach’s indoor electric go cart track.