The Monday before Thanksgiving I headed out to Pensacola Beach to do some surf fishing. I knew that the reds HAD been running, so I tried my luck. Upon arriving at the beach, I noticed that the water’s edge was nearly straight. The only cut that I could see…of course…already had someone at it. I opted to walk 1/4 mile down the beach and set up on a spot that looked decent.

After 2 hours of catching nothing but one catfish, I packed up everything and headed back for the truck. I noticed that the guys fishing the cut were quite a ways down the beach and the cut actually started about 75 yards from them. Seeing this, I decided to set up one last time. I managed to pull one 25″ red from the cut and watched the other guys as they reached their bag limit on reds.

Wednesday soon came around and Chelsea had off from work. She had never caught a legal redfish so we decided to give it a try back at the beach. We drove down to Ft. Pickens and set up on an incoming tide in the afternoon. We weren’t having much luck aside from a few catfish and the sun was sinking quickly.

However, right before dark, one of the rods doubled over and started screaming out line. Chelsea grabbed it and the fight was on. After a few minutes, we had the fish to shore and I dragged it up to the cooler to measure it.

A 29″ Redfish! Bigger than any I’d ever caught myself (have yet to break slot limit still). After a few quick pictures and an explanation as to why we couldn’t keep him, I waded out to release the fish. It only took a few seconds to revive the fish and with jolt, it disappeared out into the darkening water.

Saturday we decided it was MY turn to try for an over-slot red. And no…I’m not bitter. Chelsea, my dad and I drove out to Ft. Pickens and fished around the pass. Luckily for us, the weather was a nipply -50 with a chance of a gale. We used cigar minnows and, thanks to the wind, made staggering 15 ft. casts. Absolutely nothing hit for hours.

Just after it got dark, the rod finally bowed over and started ripping drag. I grabbed it, knowing that a huge red had finally taken the bait. The fish ran, and ran….and ran. I cranked down the drag, worrying that I might not stop the fish. When if finally stopped, I had thrown out the idea that it was a redfish…I was thinking shark. But alas, I was fooled.

Who knew Cow-nose rays would hit a cigar minnow? I always thought they were filter feeders like a manta ray. Thanks to a circle hook, the ray was quickly released with some hook-outs.

With that, I finished my Thanksgiving trip and my quest to catch a huge redfish. Hopefully, there will still be some around come Christmas.