Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The Great American Grunt Hunt: Catchy name, better fish

The name is not very appealing: Grunt. • One of the most common fish in the Gulf of Mexico is saddled with one of the worst names, right up there with dogfish or pigfish. • But to dismiss the grunt as a sportfish or an eating fish is a mistake. The white grunt, which averages between 1 and 2 pounds and 12-15 inches, is found in water as deep as 115 feet but mostly hangs out in 80 feet of water or less.

Like the more popular (and bigger) grouper and snapper, grunts can be found feeding over bottom structure like rocks or wrecks. They are active year round and are usually a reliable catch even on bad days.

"I always say that I fish for grunt and every once in awhile I'll catch a grouper," longtime fishing captain Dave Zalewski said. "They are a lot of fun to catch and you don't have to go very far to catch them. All you need is some structure. And they are excellent to eat. A lot of people don't know that."

Zalewski will be one of an expected 300 anglers at this weekend's Great American Grunt Hunt, a tournament cooked up six years ago in Madeira Beach. At Thursday's captain's meeting, Zalewski will give a seminar about how to catch grunt and how to filet them.

So why a tournament for a fish that doesn't get very big and is fairly easy to catch?

"We wanted to start a tournament that anybody could participate in," said Brian Crabtree, Madeira Beach Marina supervisor and a founder of the tournament. "Anybody from your 80-year-old grandfather to your 8-year-old kid can fish in this tournament."

The white grunt is actually a colorful fish. It gets its name from the sound it makes while grinding its teeth. And it's not very picky about what it eats. Dead squid? Check. Live shrimp? Check. A piece of grunt filet? Check. Piece of a hot dog? Maybe.

The tournament offers a $500 prize for largest grunt. That will likely be in the 18-inch range. There is also a $750 payout for three biggest aggregate fish.

And recently added to the tournament is a hogfish category. That's another unfortunately named fish that is actually delicious. Hogfish are bottom dwellers that feed on mollusks and crustaceans. It is mostly associated with spearfishing because they are hard to catch on hook and line.

They can only be caught on hook and line in this tournament. They average between 5 and 10 pounds.

But the star of the tournament is the grunt. After all the fish are caught, there will be a fish fry at the marina. Might be a good chance to see what the fuss is about. And if it's worth taking the boat out for a grunt excursion.

"You can fish for grunts year round," Crabtree said. "It is the most plentiful reef fish we have around here."

Sixth annual Great American Grunt Hunt

When: Captain's meeting Thursday, 7 p.m. at Madeira Beach Marina. Fishing begins at 6 a.m. Saturday. Weigh-in is 4-5 p.m.

Where: Madeira Beach Marina

Cost: $30 for early registration (ends Wednesday); $40 for late registration. Add $25 for hogfish category.

Divisions: Grunt overall, Grunt youth, Hogfish

Payouts: $500 for first place; $750 for three fish aggregate

Contact: (727) 399-2631 or madeirabeach

marina.com

Tide adjustments

The charts show the rise and fall of tides measured in feet and plots the tides on a one-week timeline. Times and depth may vary depending on weather conditions. You can compute the tides from these adjustments:

North (Anclote River) High Low

Anclote Key (south end) -01:37 -00:47

Bayport +01:13 +01:39

Cedar Key +01:16 +01:03

Crystal River, Florida Power +01:13 +01:33

Hudson, Hudson Creek +00:06 +00:01

Indian Rocks Beach (inside) +00:19 +00:10

North (Anclote River) High Low

Mangrove Point, Crystal Bay +01:34 +01:54

Pithlachascotee River +00:18 +00:52

St. Joseph Sound -00:34 -00:42

Steinhatchee River entrance +01:33 +01:32

Suwannee River entrance +01:22 +01:21

Withlacoochee River entrance +01:23 +01:58

South (The Pier) High Low

Anna Maria, pier -02:10 -02:19

Egmont Key, Egmont channel -02:15 -03:20

Gandy Bridge +00:59 +00:57

Gulfport, Boca Ciega Bay -01:32 -01:05

John's Pass, Boca Ciega Bay -02:14 -02:04

Madeira Beach Causeway -01:32 -01:45

Mullet Key Channel (Skyway) -02:03 -02:01

South (The Pier) High Low

Pass-a-Grille Beach -01:34 -01:30

Pinellas Point -00:22 -00:29

Redfish Point, Manatee River -00:30 -00:14

Safety Harbor +01:32 +01:34

Sarasota Bay -01:38 -00:58

Corey Causeway -01:18 -00:44

Venice Inlet (inside) -02:02 -01:38

Solunar chart

AM PM

Minor Major Minor Major

3/2112:256:3012:40 6:55

3/221:10 7:151:257:45

3/232:00 8:052:158:30

3/242:458:50 3:009:15

3/253:30 9:353:45 10:00

3/264:15 10:25 4:35 10:50

3/275:0511:10 5:20 11:40

The Great American Grunt Hunt: Catchy name, better fish 03/20/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 12:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener

    College

    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.