Three Days in Panacea!

By Gary Turner

I thought Matt had a Monster Snapper…. Panacea may not be paradise, but three days of great fishing, great food, and friends makes it a paradise for me! My friend Preacher Matt told me he was doing a revival meeting that week in Panacea, Florida and asked if I wanted to come down and do some fishing with them. Well, I always seem to have a lot going on between working, grandkids, traveling and fishing, but I saw a few days open and said, “Yes!” I’m getting ready to head to Alaska soon, and then Brazil not long after that, so squeezing in another trip was tough but I made it happen! I drove down on Wednesday night just in time for church, and then dinner at Angelos after. They have a dish called South of the Border Grouper that is so delicious!

The next morning, we were at the dock before sunrise meeting our friend Tanner of Panacea Outfitters. We headed out to the flats looking for grass where the speckled and white trout would be. Well, there were some good trout in there but there were also a ton of 16–24 inch sharks, a few skates, and flounder. We caught several good trout then headed in search of some redfish off the grass lines and oyster bars. Matt hooked a good redfish, and was reeling it in when I got bit, but mine came unbuttoned. The next cast I hooked a monster, it took off, line peeling off the reel, I couldn’t slow it down! When I was almost spooled Tanner said, “That’s got to be a big ray.” I should have known it wasn’t a record redfish, but I said I was gonna reel it in any way!

Thirty minutes later I had it almost in the net, but it kept digging in the mud. A little trick to get them out of the mud: when the line is tight, pluck the line making it sing, they don’t like this. Finally, he was right in front of the boat, and we were going to net it for the video I was shooting, but when Tanner had it next to the net it swirled, hit the line with its tail, and cut the line. I was lifting on the rod so you can guess what happened next. The rod flew up and whacked me in the forehead! My friend Roy has always said, “If you are gonna be dumb, you got to be tough.” (LOL, that’s what came to my mind.)

We caught a few more reds, releasing all but two. Then we cleaned up and headed to Porter Island Seafood Restaurant, my favorite place to eat when I’m in Panacea, to eat with Pastor B.B. and some friends. The shrimp, oysters and grouper were delicious, everything there is always great. Junior sitting next to me ordered a steakburger, and it looked and smelled delicious too. Before we left, I ordered burgers for us for after the revival meeting that night and ended up ordering burgers again for after the revival meeting the next night – so good! The revival that night saw a packed house at the church.

Later that night our friends Melton and Daron arrived, and the next morning they found us at the dock early where we were meeting Tanner. We loaded up and headed for the rock piles. We caught a ton of Key West snappers, rock bass, trigger fish, blue fish, and several other species and filled the cooler up. We had to throw back the triggers though because they were out of season. That night the revival was good with Matt preaching and Matt, Melton and Daron singing. They were all formerly with the gospel quartet The Inspirations and now sing together with the Resurrection Quartet. Matt’s son-in-law John David (the fourth member of the Resurrection Quartet) came down and joined us, and the next morning we met up with B.B, his son Chris, and his wife Stacy on their boat.

We headed out into the bay to catch some red snappers. When we got to the first drop, the red snappers were on fire! We caught several before it slowed down. A shark was attracted to our catches and shut down the fish, so we moved to another spot and caught a couple more and that’s when Matt hooked a Beast! He was hanging on as line pulled off the reel. I thought this was going to be a really big snapper, then I saw it, it was a giant shark with a huge snapper in his mouth with just the snapper’s lips sticking out. Then the line went slack, and we never saw that shark or snapper again, but it was very exciting!

We also caught and released several big groupers and several other species of fish, even an octopus. It was such a fun trip. The water was some of the calmest seas I’ve seen, however, it was also sweltering hot! Days like this are hard to beat, good people, great fishing, and calm seas. We ate one last time at Porter Island, I had the shrimp and catfish, delicious!

The Resurrection Quartet, Matt, Melton, Daron and John David, sang that night at the church and it was great! If you are in town on Sunday or Wednesday, you can visit Pastor B.B. at Panacea Full Gospel.

For information on fishing with Tanner Plouffe of Panacea Outfitters, you can call him at 850-778-6769. You can reach me at, and check out my YouTube channel at

Please remember, if you are not going to eat it, don’t kill it.

“Tight Lines and Squealing Reels Put a Smile on My Face Every Time.” Gary Turner

You can reach Gary Turner at