It’s last call ya’ll. Time is running out for those looking to keep a grouper or few this holiday season. Monday marks the end for the recreational harvest of gag grouper in our area. Hogfish and snapper will pick up the slack and you’ll likely not have to travel too far to get in on it. Last year this time some of our most productive “hog trips” were within 50 ft. Was curious to discover if the annual invasion of silver trout to our gulf beaches could have survived the relentless Red Tide outbreak that plagued us for months. They did. Just before this latest blow, once located we were able to catch some two at a time on tandem rigged rigs. Twelve to eighteen feet off Madeira Beach was more productive than Redington. Diving birds will help locate them and your bottom recorder will reveal their exact whereabouts. Re-drifting the same area we had dialed them in worked best. Store bought tandem jigs work great. I like making my own. Thirty pound test leader helps with their abrasive mouths and give a chance with the mackerel that are mixed with them. A ¼ oz. jighead on the bottom coupled with a 1/16 oz. on top allows for long casts. Experiment a variety of colored tails to determine what works best on a given day. Ours ate pale pink, rootbeer and white. Our most recent bottom fishing trip resulted in non-stop action in 48 feet. Shrimp and fiddler crabs were gobbled up by snapper, grunts, hogfish and an unusual amount of triggerfish. Our biggest grouper bites were on frozen sardines. Take advantage of the weather when you can and have a safe and happy holiday season.
Captain Jay Mastry