Capt. Philip Watson
Fall is full effect and it’s time to start thinking about those cool water species like sheepshead, hogfish, and gag grouper. These fish are very structure oriented, so target these fish on ledges and rock piles using shrimp and pinfish. My absolute favorite time to target these guys are a few days after a cold front and after the water gets churned and dirty. Once the water gets clean and calm, they’re usually ready to chew very hard!
Scale down your tackle to 20lb fluorocarbon for the hogfish and sheepshead and use 60-80lb for those big gag groupers. Knocker rigs and jig heads typically work very well, but Captain Chappy’s hog balls are also an excellent alternative.
This months highlighted trip was with Chase for his 13th birthday. The fish gods must have been on his side because the bite was non-stop! We fished from 90’ to 115’ looking for a variety of snapper and grouper. We stopped on flat swiss cheese bottom over bait stacks to get our grouper limit accomplished. First fish we boated was a huge 33” red grouper with a 30” to follow. The smallest grouper of the day was 23”.
After we quickly limited on grouper, we switched gears and found some nice ledges, around 90’, where Chase decided to put on a snapper clinic. We boated many nice mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, and Key West grunts. One of the prize catches for the day was a pair of huge mangrove snappers caught on pinfish. One measuring 25” and about 6lbs with another just short of that!
We ended the day at a wreck, attempting to troll up a big barracuda to finish the already solid trip. Although we had many strikes, we just couldn’t quiet connect with one. Great trip with a great crew, can’t wait to load the cooler again with them!