Bye bye tarpon, it’s time to catch dinner
As you probably already know, gag grouper season opened as of July 1.
The season is set to run through December 2 and close on December 3, 2015.
Size and bag limits are as follows — you are allowed two gag grouper within the four grouper aggregate per person per day. A total minimum length is 22 inches must be met and there is no maximum size.
In our local waters gag grouper is probably the most popular of all of the groupers. Whether fishing in 15 feet of water of 100 feet of water, keeper-size gag grouper can be caught. This being said, a wide diversity of anglers can target these fish. Even shore fishers when lucky, can be rewarded with a grouper dinner now and again.
Some gag grouper can be found in such a wide range of waters there are also a wide variety of techniques used to catch them. The most popular way is to fish with live bait, which is dropped to the bottom on a weighted rig such as a knocker rig or a fish finder rig. Other methods include dead baiting, free-lining baits in shallow water and trolling — especially in channels and over structure.
Where to look for grouper can vary. The one constant when hunting grouper is structure. Whether an artificial reef, limestone ledge, boat wreck, pier, bridge or jetty, grouper like to hang out around structure. In fact, usually, if a grouper is hooked by accident while fishing in an area where structure is not present, the usual conclusion is that there must be some rocks down there somewhere.
To find structure in the Gulf or any other waters, it’s good to have a nautical chart. Most charts will show reefs and wrecks which can be a great start in your search. Other areas with structure can be a bit easier to find because you can see them. For example, bridges, piers and jetties will hold grouper. These areas generally attract baitfish and where there’s bait, well you know the rest.
Lastly, gag grouper have a slot on the top of the popularity list because they taste so good. Who comes to Florida and doesn’t eat a grouper sandwich? Yeah, I know, vegetarians, but they don’t usually fish either. Whether grilled, blackened or fried, sliced into sashimi or put in ceviche, grouper is one of the best fish you’ll ever put in your mouth. So go out and get one and you be the judge.