Hernando County By: Capt. Joel Gant

It’s Time

That’s right “fishheads,” it’s open season for two species that fight hard and are great to bring home for dinner. First is what our area is known for–gag grouper. Gags can be caught from near shore to way offshore. There are many ways to catch them. One technique in our area that I like to use is to troll a big plug like a Rapala or Yo-zuri. I like to start in the 25-foot depth and work my way to deeper water. This is also a good way to find some new spots while keeping an eye on the depth finder. The way most people fish for the gag grouper is to bottom drop. Anchor over your spot and drop a live bait, cut bait, frozen bait or squid–all of these baits can produce a big fish. The tackle to use is a heavy rod with at least 60-pound line, a 7/0 – 8/0 circle hook and enough weight to keep the bait on the bottom. Be ready to reel fast, as they will try to run to the nearest rock. Regulations are two per person and 24 inches in total length.

Red snapper is also open. They usually will be in the 50-foot or deeper waters. Everyone has their ways to catch them. Some will use live pinfish or shrimp. Some will use a knocker rig and some with a jig. Once you find them, you can limit in a very short time. Try using a stout spinning setup with at least 30-pound line. Regulations are two per person and 16 inches total length. Season opens for persons Federally permitted for hire (guides) June 1st and recreational fishermen June 11th.  As always, check before you go out regarding the regulations and weather.

You can also catch cobia and kingfish in the same areas that you’re trying for grouper and red snapper. Regulations have changed on cobia in Federal waters (past 9 miles). They have to be 36 inches fork length. State water regulations stay the same at 33 inches fork length.

Get out there on the water and make some memories. with friends and family!