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Red Groupers and Red Snappers Abound

Capt. Alex Crawford
July 9, 2008
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


If you are inclined towards offshore fishing and snappers and groupers are some of your favorite targeted species, now is your time to go for it on the Forgotten Coast of Florida. Recent catches have been excellent for red groupers and red snappers in the Gulf. And live bait has not been necessary, just fresh frozen baits like pogies and cigar minnows. Remember the regs have changed and for reef species we can only use non stainless circle hooks. It is also required to have a good hook extractor and a venting tool on board. It matters not that you fish in relatively shallow water and venting is not necessary, having the venting tool onboard is a new reg. Would you spend ten bucks to save a $50 fine? I say smart investment and learn how to vent a fish properly when necessary.

Red groupers will eat just about anything out there right now. Quality squid is a really good choice of baits for red groupers. Only drawback is the squid blood clean up at the day's end. Clean a little as you go and the job is not overwhelming when you are cleaning fish and trying to beat the darkness at the end of your trip.

Red snappers have become nuisance fish at times, especially if you really want groupers. The snappers can be chunk baited to the surface to separate them from the bottom feeding groupers. Trigger fish are normally mixed in with the snappers, but they are great eating as well. You just need small pieces of squid and small sharp hooks. Try lighter tackle even down to ten pound class spinning gear to match your quarry. Kids and ladies love to catch triggers on light tackle.

Small cobia are hanging around on structure and sometimes even your boat. In early spring I believe they are searching for mates. It is relatively simple to catch these love sick fish. Just keep a 30 pound outfit rigged and ready to pitch bait them. Cigar minnows are a good choice. Play a cobia to complete exhaustion prior to bringing them into the vessel. Cobia have a well-deserved ability to literally destroy the inside of your boat and everything in it including your favorite rod and reel outfit. These spring fish are usually on the small side, less than 50 pounds. i.e. great eating size If you question if the fish is legal, don't gaff it. Measure it in the water first. The fish must be 33 inches fork to be legal.

Kingfish are all over and they are hungry. While anchored, deploy a chum bag off a rear cleat. Every so often pour a few ounces of pogy oil overboard. Kings will find you and your light wire rigged flat lines. Or, the sharks will before the kings. Some folks would rather eat blacktip shark steaks on the grill as compared to king mackerel.

So, let's recap the catch briefly. For the dinner party we will have filets of red snapper, red grouper (maybe gags as well), triggers, kings, cobia, shark—what's not to like. These critters are a challenge to catch and are some of the best on the dinner table. Who is ready to git ‘er done?

Till next tide, solid hookups and tight lines,
Captain Alex Crawford
Fishing out of Apalachicola
(850) 697-8946

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Captain Alex Crawford is a full time guide who has fished the Florida Panhandle offshore for 26 years. He specializes in grouper and snapper trips with light tackle on live bait. Custom trips for companies with multiple boats will be arranged. Inshore trips targeting specific species and custom eco trips are available for birding, gator watching, shelling, picnics and barrier islands. Contact Captain Alex for a fun and productive trip on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Contact Info:

Topknots Charters
P. O. Box 1029
Carrabelle, FL 32322
Phone: 850-697-8946
Alt. Phone: same
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