Hernando County Report By: Capt. Joel Gant

Picking the right fishing guide can be challenging. Every captain does the same thing, but each a little different. On a recent trip to Islamorida in the Keys, I hired a well-known captain to take three of us offshore fishing. Right from the start, I noticed the captain being very belligerent to his mate. As the day progressed, we were catching mahi, or should I say the mate was hooking then handing the rod for us to hold. So, here we have three of us trying to keep these fish from crossing each others line while the mate continues hooking and handing the next one to us.  While all this is happening, the captain is up top yelling and cursing at the mate on what to do. He then starts yelling at us what we are doing wrong. I believe in talking to a man, not down to him.  This did not work for me and we had some very harsh words. We had him bring us back in and cut the trip short. I believe this captain was more interested in putting fish on the boat and being able to hang them when back at the dock. In the Keys, it’s very competitive back at the dock seeing who did the best. This captain never asked or gave us the chance to actually catch the fish on our own. On my charters, I would rather loose a few fish and have the client experience as much fishing fun as they can. I believe the fishing experience should be fun. So, the moral of this story is, when looking for a guide, do your research, read their reviews and call to ask questions (as in, “Do I get to fish?”).

Offshore, we are still getting red and gag groupers. The water temps are high, so fishing has been challenging. Try to find some good structure and try different depths to see if you can find a pattern. Also, chum the area and start fishing for grunts. I find if there are grunts, there is a good chance there are grouper around. Hog and mangrove snapper are also around–shrimp is the best bait for enticing them.

Scallop season is in full swing. The start of the season has been a little slow. You may need to check a few spots until you find some. Start your search from Bayport north. Daily bag limit is 2 gallons whole per person or 10 gallons per boat. Anytime you have people in the water, please keep safety in mind and use a dive flag. Make it a fun day, and you and the kids will remember it for a long time.

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