Schools in session: It was back to school for rain minnows on Sunday (Video)

Tina Harbuck
Schools and schools of minnows could be seen along the Destin beaches on Sunday.

At first glance it appeared to be large masses of grass in the Gulf Sunday at Henderson Beach State Park and westward. But a closer look soon revealed it was huge schools of millions of glass minnows or as the locals call them “rain minnows.”

“I thought it was seaweed at first,” said James Steele of Lousiana who was staying at Silver Beach Towers.

But the closer he got to the water, he realized it was schools of very small fish.

Steele said he saw people walk into the middle of the schools and the fish would just scatter around them, leaving a clear circle around the person.

“It was neat to see,” Steele said.

Capt. Paul Dale Wagner, who’s fished the area for more than a couple of decades, said the small fish that measured about an inch to two inches were referred to as “rain minnows.”

“They come through this time of year every year,” Wagner said. “The Pass gets full of them in the morning.”

Capt. Chip Godwin says they call them rain minnows because when they school up and come to the surface and flip all at once, “it looks like rain hitting the water,’ he explained.

Godwin said the Spanish mackerel, baby bonito and hardtails like to feed on the rain minnows.

And when the rain minnows show up a little further out off the beach, “you can seen king mackerel shoot out of them sometimes,” Godwin said.

On Sunday, rain minnows were spotted up close and inside the first sandbar, but were gone by Monday.

But either way, it's usually a good sign of things to come.

“Usually when they show up, the mackerel start showing back up,” Godwin said.

For video of the event CLICK HERE