PANAMA CITY — I had been needing to get on the water to pre-fish and locate good reds for the upcoming tournaments that are about to kick off. The days I am off from work, the weather hasn't allowed for the time and clarity needed to do some homework before tournaments kick off. I know during tournaments you must fish the elements unless there is a safety issue. It’s not about fishing the elements right now, it’s about being able to see in the water and make the runs to some spots to see if the reds I am looking for are still there. This past weekend was no different; the day I could fish, the weather allowed me a four-hour window to get on the water without getting caught in thunderstorms that were moving in — according to local weather and weather app on the phone.

My stepson and partner was sick, so I took a friend with me instead hoping to make about a 25-minute run to a spot that did well last year about this time. We made it out the bayou, and as I entered the bay, it was capping and rolling two- to three-foot chop. At that point, it was time to think of plan B. I knew of a pond near there that would protect us from the chop and wind, allow a little bit of fishing, and held trout and reds in the past.

We got into the pond, dropped the trolling motor and started working the shoreline and drop offs. I was throwing a Matrix Shad Blazing Hornet on a ¼ ounce eye strike red trout eye jig head. Ben was throwing a DOA root beer/chartreuse tail paddler on a 1/8th ounce jig head. Due to cloud cover and dirty water from the wind, our only options were to fan cast, while covering ground, and looking for blow ups or big V’s. We were in there about 15 minutes before I let the bait drop to the bottom and sit, as I was getting some of my drink. I started reeling again and there was weight, I assumed I hung on grass on the bottom. The line took off, turned out to have a 16-inch red sitting there waiting on me. As we continued to work around the pond, I started noticing movement, and blow ups on the surface near the back side. As we got over there, I hooked up again and landed a 17-inch red.

The wind started picking up, and the trolling motor was dying. Apparently, I didn’t charge the trolling motor batteries. I decided to anchor pin down and allow roughly 30 to 45 minutes before heading in to beat the storms. As we are sitting there anchored up, I hooked up and this time the drag starts. I think I may have finally hooked a slot or over slot red. As it was on the line for a few, I rule out the over slot as I am turned its head. I got it to the boat, and it was a 10 spot, 22.5-inch, 4-pound red. It was nice to finally catch something that pulled the drag.

We sat there another 30 minutes and caught a 12-inch trout. The bite was slow, and the severe weather alert and lightning within 15 miles alert went off, so we headed in. I got back to the house, cleaned the boat (A clean boat is a happy boat.), cleaned and stored the gear, walked in the front door and the sky opened up. I couldn’t have timed it any better. The elements and conditions were well below par, but it always is a good time being on the water with a line in the water.