Hernando County – Time for Thanksgiving By: Capt. Joel Gant

This is the time of year we should all be thankful for the things we have, whether it be family, friends, health or the ability to be on the water. Living in Florida my whole life, I sometimes take the water for granted. A lot of people around this country almost never get to see the Gulf or Atlantic waters. For this, I am blessed and thankful to be able to be on the water and fish almost any time I want. If you are able this year to have a Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, go around the table and have everyone tell what they are thankful for.

Now let’s talk fishing! The Grouper bite is getting better every day. With the stone crab traps out and the cooler waters, the grouper are moving into accessible and more shallow water. I like to anchor on my spots and bottom fish. My setup is 60-pound test with enough weight to keep the bait on the bottom and a 7/0 circle hook.  The baits can be live pinfish, shrimp, cut baits or frozen baits like threadfins or sardines. Be ready to reel first then lift the rod. These fish fight hard and try to get to the nearest rock, so the first few seconds are most crucial to try to turn the fish before it “rocks” you. The regulations are gag grouper 24 inches and reds are 20 inches. Both are two per person. Speaking of regulations, on a recent trip I was boarded by the FWC. They checked my fish and explained that on some species there are different size limits for State and Federal waters. For example, mangrove snapper are 10 inches in State waters and 12 inches in Federal waters. Cobia are 33 inches State waters and 36 inches Federal waters. Now State waters end at nine miles and Federal begins. So, if you fish past nine miles, keep this in mind. I have no problem being boarded by FWC. They are out there, not only for our safety, but to help keep our resource strong.

Other species I have been getting on my charters are Spanish mackerel, cobia, sharks, mangrove snapper and thank God for grunts. When fishing for the Spanish, I like to chum and use a jig with a plastic jerk bait. Work the bait fast and, if you get a bump, keep jigging the lure and don’t stop. They want a fast-moving bait. You will go through a lot of lures but, when you do hook up, it’s a really fun fight!

From the Fishdaddy family, I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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



Coastal Angler & The Angler Magazine