[dropcap]B[/dropcap]y the time most of you fine fisher folks read this month’s report/outlook for the Cedar Key area two significant openings will already be up and running along the good gulf coast. Both have been long awaited and for most of us, long overdue. Our gag grouper and scallop season openings have certainly been a very special and most anticipated time of the year.
Now if you’re venturing offshore looking for gag grouper my humble recommendation would be to try your close -n areas first. Even though it’s July it might surprise you how many nice gags are still in 25’-35’-45’ areas. That game plan worked well for me last “derby season” well into August. We would limit out on gags fairly close in and move out to 55’-75’ for nice keeper red grouper on primarily live bottom areas. Gags and red groper do of course share the same bottom, but red grouper aren’t as picky about finding a home as gags. It doesn’t take much structure or relief to make them happy. In reality, they are somewhat reef builders themselves as they fan out homes in the live bottom areas. So far, our red grouper season has been very successful.
Limits are the norm with a nice overall average size fish. As far as gags, well I, for one, have done my best to stay away from my hotspots for gags. By August we’ll know just how hot those hot- spots were. Other offshore species like kings and cobia have been just so-so; one here and one there. Of course our reliable Cedar Key pork chops (grunts) continue to average real big and for now you can, as I say, catch all you want to clean.
Redfish are still slow and scattered. Seems one day you might find a few under slot fish
and the next a few over the slot fish. So far no big numbers of any size reds. That trend historically should continue into July as July is usually our slowest month for reds in Cedar Key proper. My suggestion would be to run north or south of Cedar Key for more consistent catches of reds. I fished Waccasassa last week and actually ended up in the back of Lows Bay and found 4 real nice schools of 24” to 30” reds. The water was a lot clearer than Turtle Bay, and of course Cedar Key, and they tore our red daddy spinner baits up. We also caught a few keeper speckled trout on those red daddies. Folks, they are fish finders for sure. I even use them for brackish water bass regularly. As the tide left Lows Bay we drifted the spotty bottom west of Mangrove Point and did manage some more keeper trout. But our keeper ratio was probably 10 to 1.
Lots of shorts. The best trout reports I can share have been by a few of our best guides that are scoring well and regularly in the deeper areas. Actually Seahorse Reef has been very active with trout and a few leftover Spanish. While the old reliable grass flats still have fish, try the deeper ones, especially once the fleet of scallopers arrives.
Hope everyone has a real fishy July along the fishy Nature Coast. Happy 4th of July to all and Happy Birthday America! Stay cool! Good luck and good fishing. See you next month “if nothin’ don’t happen!”