by Capt. Bill D’Antuono
The time of year we have all been waiting for – American Red Snapper and gag grouper are now within our grasp. Seasons are both now open and action has been hot. Water clarity has been phenomenal. Spotting reefs in shallow water, like we are in the Keys, is not something us Napoleans are used to. Out deep, visibility has been just as good, if not better than The Florida Keys.
American Red Snapper, or ARS, are the gulf’s most valuable and disputed fish. With the longest season in recent years, 62 days for federal charter and 31 for recreational, these fish are fun to catch. Red snapper trips are some of the most memorable because you truly are on some of the best fishing grounds in the world when you are hunting for them. We have been targeting live bottom and wrecks to find them. Spearfishing ARS is quite easy, they are not shy and can meet you halfway in the water column. We quickly get our boat limit and start focusing on grouper.
Gag Grouper can be found virtually anywhere in the gulf. They like lots of structure with the ability to escape off into the sand and hide on outlying objects. With visibility this good nearshore, it makes for an awesome day on the water and an easier underwater hunt. You can almost throw a dart on a map and go to a nearby spot to find gag grouper. But finding fish and landing them are two totally different things.
On recent outings we have had boat record fish and hauls. With ARS open it lets me get out to explore deeper water and dive on some outstanding spots. Even though we are spearing I like to bring a few rods with me, rigged with artificials, in case a school of mahi-mahi swim by. Catch one and its game on!
Summertime fishing and diving in Southwest Florida is some of the best around. Hiring a guide will enable you to get straight to the best spots for constant action. Don’t forget to check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for my latest content and pictures. I am booking trips non-stop so make sure to inquire about getting offshore with us!