Hernando County Report By: Capt. Joel Gant

Open Season

June is here and that means there are two species we can target and keep. Red snapper and gag grouper season are both open this month. The regulation can be a little confusing, so I highly recommend checking them at “myfwc.com”. Let’s start with the gag grouper. Still two per person, 24 inches minimum size limit and opens on June 1st. until December 31st. There are a few different ways to catch them. The most popular is bottom fishing. Anchor on your spot and drop a live or cut bait to the bottom. I use 60-pound mono with a 7/0 hook on a Shimano Torium reel. Another way to catch them is trolling. Pick the right depth for the lure your using and troll an area you believe should hold fish. This is also a great way to find new structure.

FWC announced a 40-day recreational red snapper season. This will be from June 11th. to July 20th. Charter boats fishing in Federal waters (past 9 miles), must have a Federal reef permit. The regulation is two per person and 16 inches minimum size. One of the best ways to catch them is with live bait like shrimp or small pinfish. I like a spinning reel with 20 to 30-pound braid, a 2-foot section of 20-pound leader with a 3/0 to 4/0 hook and enough weight to get the bait down. Don’t use too heavy of weight because most strikes will come on the fall. Watch your line as it goes down, if you see it stop or move faster, start reeling.

Another fish showing up in numbers are the ” brown bombers”, cobia. Cobia are very curious, and very often they will just show up. For this reason, I always have a pitch bait with a bucktail jig or some other bait to throw quickly. Most of the time they are not shy about what they eat. Keep the bait moving and if they won’t take your bait, try a different one. Free lining a live bait or a dead bait will also work. Chumming will bring them in.

A quick reminder, scallop season opens on July 1st. I know you diehard scallopers already have this etched on your calendar.

This picture is Jim with a nice red snapper caught and released on a recent trip.

Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family! I’m always looking for reports and pictures. You can email me or stop by my website and become a “FISHHEAD”.