The just-commenced gag grouper season has drawn mixed reactions from offshore anglers.
Some of the more successful have said they located fish over hard bottom in areas most would not look at during hot weather. More than one has said that the grouper fishing is strangely better relatively shallow than deep.
On Saturday, Don Parkinson, his son-in-law Andrew Courtney, and his neighbor Chris Taylor fished in a fundraising tournament for the Dunnellon High School baseball team. The Williston trio launched early at Yankeetown.
Starting their fishing in the nearby shallows, Andrew hooked the first fish with a topwater lure—a nice 32-inch snook that would have been a nice, legal fish if in season.
The weather looked nice enough, so they decided to try trolling out a little deeper. They set out diving lures and were surprised to hook a grouper very quickly. They hadn’t trolled for 10 minutes when the first gag struck—a 20-inch ‘short.’
Just a couple of minutes later, a second fish grabbed another of their lures—also just short of legal.
Finally, Don did hook a powerful heavyweight that was able to peel drag back to its ‘home rock,’ where it broke his line.
When the wind rose and they headed back to the shallows, the anglers had hooked seven gag grouper, though only one they boated was a legal fish. The deepest water they had seen was just 22 feet deep.
Parkinson said, “We were really surprised to have so much grouper action so close to shore.”
Steinhatchee is a busy place these days with gag grouper season in progress, red snapper and scallop season just a few days away, and the Reeling for Kids Fishing Tournament at hand. Happily, all reports insist that the fishing there is stellar.
On Wednesday, George Deloach and Greg Brown fished out of Steinhatchee. They arrived at first light, and there was already considerable boater activity with so many seasonal opportunities open or about to start.
The Gainesville anglers left out of the river just after 6 a.m. and headed northward up the coast for a planned morning-only trip. The first area they tried wasn’t bad, producing a few redfish and trout.
But the men were sure they could find a better spot. They were correct. The next place they tried was magical. With the tide now heading back out, the fish were present and amazingly active.
On his first cast, Deloach’s twitchbait was consumed by a redfish the instant it touched the crystal clear water. They went on to catch reds steadily for the rest of their stay. A whopping 27.5-inch trout was present among the hungry reds, and Deloach had no idea that it
wasn’t another good red until he saw it near the boat.
Brown and Deloach caught no fewer than 10 ‘doubles’ and when they headed back to the boat ramp well before noon, had boated and released 36 redfish up to 31 inches long and four trout to 27.5-inches.
Definitely a stellar fishing trip.