Walton fisherman reels in big stripers on the Choctawhatchee River

January 11, 2011

David Barron with one of the four large stripers he and his crew caught near the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. Photo courtesy David Barron

Local charter boat captain recounts great day of winter fishing

Local fisherman and charter captain David Barron of Freeport reeled in several large striped bass recently near the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. David was generous to share his account of a great day of fishing:

Big fish, cold weather
I was lucky enough to be home with my family for the holidays this year.  After sharing Christmas with my family, I was ready to go fishing.  I have noticed something about the Eastern end of the Choctawhatchee Bay; as the weather gets colder, the fish I catch get bigger, and more aggressive.  As the temperature drops, the bait, then the trout, redfish, bass, and stripers run to the deepest part of the estuaries that empty into the Choctawhatchee Bay.  If you can get bait, you can get on.

Big fish, big baits
I called my fishing buddy Bill Oswell (Freeport) on Dec. 26th and asked him if he wanted to go striper fishing with me.  I was lucky enough to have caught several big mullet in my cast net and wanted to try a couple of deep holes at the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River.  The baits were big and I rigged the appropriate tackle.  We ran over a deep hole in the main river (15+ feet) with the boat and I chunked the bait as far upstream as I could. It landed about 30 feet from the boat.   Bill and I were discussing where to land the boat and the weather. That is when I heard the thump against the side of the boat.

Big fish, huge bite
I witnessed a large striped bass predation.  It was intense to say the least.  My mullet was using the transom as cover.  It didn’t work.  The immediate thought that ran through my brain was that a large gator had surfaced next to our boat.  There was a hole in the water where my mullet had been, next to my feet, the water splashed my face.  I missed that bite.

Big fish, team effort
Bill and I along with one of my nephews, Drew Lord, managed to end up choking on 16 bites and getting lucky with 4 Stripers in about 12 total hours of fishing the holes during three days.  We also ended up with our limit of trout on two of the three days while trolling around looking for holes to fish for the stripers.  The four fish that we caught were 34 lbs., 32 lbs., 23 lbs., and 18 lbs.

Striped bass are excellent table fare and smart when they are hooked.  I rate the striped bass 8 out of 10 in the category of difficulty during the fight, for inshore species.  The angler has to come with a lot of pressure early. The crew has to work fast to get the other bait out of the water; the driver has to get the boat fired up and on top of the fish or you will not succeed.
Weather: 28-45 degrees
Wind: 20+ North
Water temp: 58 degrees
Tackle: 20 lb.
Bait: Mullet
Where: “The Nines” Choctawhatchee River, Freeport, FL.

About David Barron
Capt. David Barron was born and raised on the Choctawhatchee Bay and started charter fishing in 1990. He currently works on the inland waterways throughout the U.S. for Blessey Marine as a steersman.

“Catching big fish for people is what I enjoy doing. That is it for me. I am here basically 10 days a month, and my clients are mostly local.  We go after trophy fish while I am here.  It gives me an advantage because it is still just as exciting for me to get on a good bite with big fish as it is for the people.  I get a little carried away sometimes. It might be after dark when we get home.”

You may contact David at (850) 419-0831 or email him at davidrbarron@earthlink.net.