Hernando County By: Capt. Joel Gant

Currently there are three species that have open seasons, gag grouper, red snapper (charter boats only) and scallops.

Gag grouper opened on June 1st, the size is now 24 inches and the limit is two per person. These fish can be caught in as little as 10 feet of water, but you’ll have a better chance in deeper water. If you find structure, you’ll most likely find fish.

Use a 7/0 hook with live, cut bait or frozen baits. Drop to the bottom and be ready for a good fight. While bottom fishing you can also catch grunts. I like to use lighter tackle with a 3/0 hook and just enough weight to get to the bottom, my bait of choice is squid bits.

Red snapper can be caught starting in about 40 feet of water. The size limits are 16 inches and two per person. The season is open until July 19th for charter boats only.

To target red snapper, use basically the same set up you would use for grouper but use a whole frozen threadfin for bait. Sometimes when fishing for grouper, you can’t get past the snapper to get to the bottom. If you’re willing to run a little farther out, you should be able to get your limit.

Scallop season has become a favorite time of year for locals and visitors alike. This season is opening on July 1st until Sept 24th. You’re allowed two gallons whole per person or 10 gallons per boat.

All you need to go scalloping is a mask, snorkel, fins and a mesh bag to put them in. Out of Hernando Beach, head north until you see the boats and drop anchor.

I try to scallop on lower tides, this makes it a little easier to dive down to retrieve these little critters. Always remember to put up your divers down flag and idle when around other boats.

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

I’m always looking for reports and pictures. For more information or questions, you can email me or stop by my website and become a “FISHHEAD”.

Capt. Joel operates Fishdaddy Charters out of Hernando Beach, he knows the local waters like the back of his hand, and works both inshore and offshore trips. You can reach him at (352) 279-1615 or visit his website, www.fishdaddycharter.com