2017-07-01 / Fish Stories

Snap up some snapper; hit a group of groupers

It’s time to celebrate because summer is here and school is out. Family vacations, going to the beach and wetting a hook are just a small part of summer fun.

Here along our coast, many enjoy the opening of red snapper season more than a family vacation. Yes, the federal red snapper season opened June 1 and will run through July 19, for the federally permitted charter vessels only.

The private recreational fisherman will only get 78 days total in state waters. The openings are through July 9 and then again the weekend days during September and October.

There has been political turmoil over the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico for the past 20 years and this is the result. Because of the strict regulations, these fish range in size from 8 to 15 pounds, average.

Simply throwing a handful of bait overboard will let you see just how many fish are on a wreck. It is not uncommon to see the water turn red as the snapper come to the surface.

Many of these fish are in the 20-pound range, and who would have ever believed that you could literally sight fish for a bottom fish?

Also, June 1 was the opening of another very sought after species, here along our coast. That is the gag grouper. These groupers can be caught on the same wrecks and bottom that red snapper are caught on.

They will range in size from 15 to 60 pounds and are very tough to get off the bottom. Gags are very powerful fish, so you will need some heavy tackle and a strong back to get them up and clear of the wreck. They are noted for taking you back into the wreck and cutting off the line if you’re not quick.

There are other groupers that also hang around the same structures, as well. The scamp and red grouper can often be caught while snapper fishing, and they eat very well, too.

The near shore fishing is also heating up as the migratory species begin showing up in large numbers. These fish include the king and Spanish mackerel and bonito.

Most of these fish can be caught in and around the Pensacola Pass and the near shore wrecks and buoys. They tend to follow the large schools of baitfish, such as the cigar minnows and herring.

Casting a light-spinning outfit with a live bait or top water plug into these large schools of bait will produce a great fight.

Further offshore, nearly 100 miles to the southwest, the tuna bite is on fire. Generally, an overnight trip is required to be able to reach these fish and spend ample time down around the oilrigs.

Just last week Capt. Rusty Smith, aboard the Entertainer, had a dozen 50-60 pound tunas and released two blue marlin.

Maybe a fishing trip is still on your bucket list, or you simply would like to take the family out for a fishing adventure. Then check us out at www.entertainercharter.com and we will hook you up. As we always say aboard the Entertainer, “May the good fishing be yours.”

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