Looking good on horizon

A pretty good year, and even better weeks ahead.

Sorry I've been out for a bit, but I've been wrapped up in trips and the Redfish Cup Championship. Once home, I'll get tossed right bank into the routine.

We (my brother/teammate Travis and I) headed up to Pensacola, Fla., for the Championship, thinking we'd have to make a long run to Mobile Bay or to Panama City.

That's what most of the teams did. We hung around in Pensacola Pass looking for a deep bite, which would've worked but for some misfortune. We had several good fish on the first day, but they came unbuttoned.

ESPN Outdoors photographer James Overstreet was there and was shooting as Travis hooked into a solid deep fish, but it came off. Figures.

I had a 6 ½- or 7-pounder that smoked a spoon, but when he got close, the hook was all messed up in the side of his mouth. I eased up on him and when he got to the boat he rolled and came off. That's tournament fishing for you. We were catching 20-25 fish a day but weren't capitalizing on the good ones.

It was a decent event overall. We finished 17th in the points, which is good, but we could have done better. Maybe next year.

I'm really looking forward to next week. I've got a few trips, then the dolphin roll into Key West, which will be next week's What's Hot Where. Since I'm fresh off the coastal waters of north Florida, let's start there.

Bear's What's Hot Where: Panhandle

Like I said, we were fishing a little different than most teams. We were targeting deeper water and truth be told, we were probably a week or two early. We really needed some cold weather (yeah, right, this is Florida) to push them down there into schools.

When there are schools, you can double up with each pass, but we were looking at scattered fish. There were some good ones, though.

Fishing deep for reds isn't all that different from fishing shallow. You're using the same baits (we were throwing Nuclear Chicken Gulp! shrimp), but sticking a 1 ½- or 2-ounce bullet weight in front of it to get it down there. Otherwise you'll be waiting all day for it to sink.

It's a different way to catch reds, and worth it. Check your graph in some deeper water and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Editor's note: Capt. Bryan Holeman is a competitor on the Redfish Cup, and guides out of Key West, Fla. Known affectionately as "Bear," Holeman and his clients enjoy year-round success on the flats surrounding Key West, making his insight to flats fishing invaluable to anglers everywhere. Bear's goal with his blog is to inform, inspire and entertain with weekly updates detailing his activities, be it guiding or tales from the RFC tournament trail.