Thursday, February 14, 2013

Farewell Panama City

With my final week of leadership school here and gone, it also brings and end to my Florida panhandle fishing adventure. Just like my goal driven career in the Air Force, I have goals when I hit the water. I was excited for the new challenge of not only fishing new water, but a completely different region of the United States. I would have to say that I met "most" of my goals for my 6 week trip.

I fished HARD the last 6 weeks here in the emerald coast of Florida. Every moment that I did not have class or homework, I was on the water if the weather would let me. Still, even my final week here, I still found time in the crazy schedule to hit the water. I gathered some fiddler crabs at low tide behind the baseball field on Tyndall and decided to try my luck for sheepshead. The bad part was the main section of the bay was choppy and one arm paddling was a chore to say the least. I tried another spot in more of a secluded area and found myself catching small ones. It was not what I hoped for, but they made it fun.

That night I found myself at my favorite spot in Panama City, the Tyndall (Dupont) bridge. I'm not bad mouthing the locals around here at all, but I found it crazy that I could consistently catch big bull reds under the lights and almost NEVER see another fisherman. The only time that I ever saw anybody was when I ran into Shawn and Doug from the local kayak fishing group Panama City Kayak Fishing Association (PCKFA). Other than that, I was the only guy on the water, crazy!! If this was in Virginia, this place would be a parking lot of kayaks! Anyways, like usual it didn't take long to get into the bulls. First one of the night was a 38"er.

Catching these bull reds at night will never get old. I describe it as a crazy addiction that is completely healthy that you don't have to quit. I must have launched to the tail end of their feeding because not 5 minutes after I caught my first one was when I had another peeling drag from my Penn Battle. Another 39" wanted to have his picture taken this night!

That's all she wrote for that night under Tyndall Bridge. The feeding completely stopped so I decided to call it an early night so I could tip a couple "cold ones" back and relax for my last weekend in Florida. Plus I knew I had the next night to give it another go.

The next night was no different than the night previous. It did not take long before I got into some reds that were tearing up baitfish on top. I tell ya, there is nothing like a pissed off bull red round housing everything in front of it. I landed a 39" and 40" this night and that was it. The 39" flopped off the measuring board before the photo op but the 40" wanted to show off a little.

All in all, this trip was big WIN for me to say the least! I caught ladyfish, sheepshead, little black sea bass, dozens of trout, and 33 bull reds over 32". Honestly, I will never be able to fish the bridge lights again in Virginia without borderline crying while thinking about those insane bull reds in the panhandle of Florida. I did not get a chance to go for grouper and snapper offshore due to the weather and my schedule (my missed goal). A big shout out to my Pensacola peeps and the people of PCKFA! You guys were super cool, shared the "local knowledge" with a complete outsider, and made this Virginia guy feel welcome on your home turf. For that, I truly say "Thank You"!

I would be messing up if I didn't acknowledge the true reason I was here...In the time of a crazy economy, war, and politics...I can truly say that I'm proud to serve in the United States Air Force! This is my calling and I take it very seriously! It was blessing to share the classroom with 15 other Airmen that would fight next you any day of the week. To my class 13-2 "Blue Flight"...Be safe, have fun, and BALLS TO THE WALL!

I'm in the middle row, far left, bald head, haha.

Now it's back to my Virginia waters! I have a lot of work with the Kayak Bass Fishing Open and Invitational around the corner. I need to take a break from the salt, and get into the fresh. Time to go back to my roots of breaking the jaws of the bucket mouth bass! Until next time...

~See ya on the water!


  1. Congrats again Richie! Very fortunate to have been given this opportunity. From one USAF vet to another, proud to know you bud.

  2. You know I have to tell you. I must have done something right in my life to have the two children I have. Between you and your sister, I am just blown away with all of your accomplishments. This my dear son I believe was a gift from God just for you. You live right. You are a good man. You love your country and your family and you are not afraid to show it or say it. You make me extrememly proud each and everyday of my life. In a time when all you hear is people complain about this world and their life, here I get this!!!! Since I always read to you and your sister, now I get to read about you both and that for me is a real treat. Great fishing. But even better, the very last picture. There are no words.