Well here we are for another fantastic summertime fishing report and our waters here are heating up something fierce. For me to try to sit here and try to tell you how awesome the fishing is here in southwest Florida this time of year, well, it’d be like trying to describe how hard a 600 lb. Goliath grouper fights. For the offshore enthusiast, gag grouper are open now, and here’s a few tips on how to catch ‘em.
I love offshore fishing to put it mildly. I grew up fishing Daytona and St. Augustine on the east coast of Florida and what we have here on the west coast is special. Having to travel 20 to 60 miles offshore on the East coast was not uncommon. I’m catching red and gag grouper within 10 miles of our beaches. Not to mention the occasional gag inshore on the flats and around our docks. The best advice I can give you is find some hard bottom and if the wind isn’t blowing too hard, try drift fishing. Now a word of caution when drift fishing. There are rocks down there, that’s why the fish are there! If you drag your sinker across the rocks, what do you suppose is bound to happen? Yup you will catch rock fish. What you want to do is “hop” the weight as you drift. I will have my reel in free spool and have my thumb on the spool (or if I’m fishing spinning gear) flip the bail open and closed. I’ll drop it on the bottom and have my rod high and follow it back down as you drift then lift it off the bottom for a few feet as I swing my rod forward and drop again. Sometimes you’ll need to let out a little more line to get it back on the bottom. If you drag it you will get hung in the rocks. That’s my tried and true style of drifting.
Now rigs vary from knocker, chicken, dropper and whatever else folks call them. I like to use the traditional bottom rig where you have a 3-6 oz. egg sinker, a small plastic bead (to absorb the constant pounding of the weight), a swivel and a length of leader with a 7-8/0 circle hook. Let’s break that down a bit. I like to use the lightest weight possible to retain the sensitivity if the weight is so heavy that’s all your able to feel, kind of takes the fun out of it. Next is the small plastic bead. This little guy takes the brunt of that weight slamming into that swivel over and over. Look at it this way, every time you drop the weight, it slams into the knot on the swivel, degrading the knot and eventually it will break. Normally it will break when you hook the right fish. That’s how the stories go, right? Let’s talk about the swivel now. Many to choose from, so choose what your budget and ego can afford. I like the ones with bearings as opposed to just the plain old barrel swivels, but once they have a load they won’t swivel, kind of lacking in its namesake. I use the normal clench knot to join the ends of the swivel to leader and main line. The circle hook needs a loop knot. A loop knot allows the hook to articulate better, and for Pete’s sake, do not set the hook! That is the hardest thing to get across to my anglers. Many years of bass fishing has missed many a fish on my boat. DO NOT SET THE HOOK! Once you’ve felt a hit or “bite,” give him a little line by dropping your rod tip and then start reeling like crazy. When you feel that heavy grouper on the other end that’s when you lift the rod and get him off the bottom as quickly as you can.
Folks, that’s gonna do it for me today, so if you wanna get your fix on…give me a call, find me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or my web page.
So with that being said, you know the deal. Gotta get on out and get my FIX on!
Tight lines & y’all stay safe!!
Capt Jesse McDowall