What's hot: Gag grouper season opens July 1, and there are plenty of big ones in nearshore waters. Over the past few weeks, we have caught and released numerous gags up to 18 pounds while fishing for tarpon. Most action came in shallower than 20 feet while casting live baits at pods of fish passing by rocks or small wrecks. Big grouper would dart from the bottom to the surface to blast live threadfin herring. Guides fishing for snapper on inshore wrecks and structures also report gags grabbing baits intended for other fish.
Tips: For inshore gags, we use heavy-spinning tackle rigged with 50-pound braided line and long fluorocarbon leaders. Spinning gear allows you to cast to the spot the fish are hanging around without anchoring over the top of it. This will help avoid spooking the fish. Small sinkers also will help prevent the fish from spooking. In shallower than 20 feet, we start out free-lining live baits. After fish stop rising for them, we add a 1-ounce sinker to force the baits deeper. Keep a spare rod ready. Often when a big grouper is pulled in from shallow water, others will follow it to the boat and you can pitch another baited rod to the others.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.