Capt. Joel Gant
May 10, 2017
Hernando Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Finally what we've all been waiting for, the gag grouper season is open. For all of us that have been releasing these big slot size fish, now you can take them home for dinner.
The season is from June 1st to December 31st and we are allowed to keep 2 per person in state and federal waters. Remember the size limit is 24 inches to the tale now.
There are many different ways to catch these hard fighting bruisers. Bottom fish is the most popular from 20 to 60 ft, find your spot and drop anchor. The gear I use is a heavy Star rod with a Shamino toruim reel spooled with 50 - 80 lb mono line and about a 24" leader with a 7/0 circle hook. ( you must use a circle hook when reef fishing, its the law).
A quick tip on circle hooks, DO NOT set the hook or you will more than likely loose the fish. Let the fish set himself and just reel. Your going to need a fairly strong setup because when they first hit, they will try to dig and hang you up on the nearest rock ,you will need to get them up off the bottom as quick as you can. We usually tighten the star drag as tight as we can so not to let fish take any drag. As for bait, you can use live pinfish, small grunts, sand perch, pig fish or any lively bait you chose. Frozen baits like threadfins, sardines, mullet will also work great. I like to use fresh cut baits like grunts, bluefish, mullet or ladyfish, big baits will catch big fish. Depending on the water clarity and temperature, trolling can produce quality and quantity of big grouper, give it a try.
Keep an eye out for cobia. If you see one come by, have a rig already set up so you can cast to them really quick. Cobia seem to be a curious fish. They will swim by or come up from structure. They usually are not too picky about what they eat. Keep it moving, they like to chase and attack their prey. These fish are solid fighters all the way to and into the boat. I recommend working the fish till you tire it out before bringing it onboard. If your not sure if its legal ( 33 inches to the fork) net it rather than gaffing.
On a recent charter, we were bottom fishing and to my surprise we hooked, fought and landed what I've guessed to be about a 300 lb Goliath grouper. This is my biggest fish to date. You never know what you might catch here off Hernando Beach.
Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!
I'm always looking for reports and pictures. For more information or questions, you can email me or stop by my website and become a "FISHHEAD".
Capt. Joel operates Fishdaddy Charters out of Hernando Beach, he knows the local waters like the back of his hand, and works both inshore and offshore trips. You can reach him at (352) 279-1615 or visit his website, www.fishdaddycharter.com
More Fishing Reports: