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Gulf Grouper Fishing

Capt. Sam Medigovich
January 7, 2009
Hernando Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

This month will offer some quite different opportunities for the offshore angler. I was asked by another captain the other day if we had been catching any of the big Red Bulls that we usually find offshore during the winter months. As I paused to answer I recalled a couple of seasons ago when we got into a mess of theses big brutes, that yes, it is that time of year again.

As most of you know by this time of the year the water temp is either, in the low 60's or upper 50's, and with that the big Red Bulls run offshore. Not only do the Reds go offshore but the Sheephead move out to join them. I recall last year that a group of divers from Orlando loaded up on the Sheephead in the 20 to 30ft depth's. The year before, we did get in to some 30lb plus Reds offshore in about 18ft of water. Now keep in mind that we were Grouper digging and at the time a front had passed so the water looked like mud. But as I have said numerous times before, chum is the key to attrackting fish when conditions dictate.

Grouper digging this month will proably require a longer run offshore out to 60 or 70ft of water. Now that is not to say that the shorts wont be in the shallower depth's because they are. There are a lot short gags and red grouper that remain in the shallow water of 25 to 30ft. But I just seem to have better luck catching keeper grouper in deeper water this time of year. Keep in mind of the rule changes that go into effect this year about the change in limits and species and closures. You damn near have to be a lawyer to figure it out. But thanks to our editor who suggested I copy and paste the rules on my boat I might be able to stay out trouble this year. Not that I have been in trouble before, nor do I endorse breaking any laws but you sure get the feeling what ole Frank and Jesse must have been thinking.
I could go on for ever about what is happening to this industry by people whom I believe just don't give a damn about the recreational angler but we will save that that for our editorial section.

What we as captains and anglers have to do is adapt and improvise to try and stay afloat. With the new regulations being shoved down our throat, we need to focus on what other species we can and have targeted in the past. That is why I write about the above mentioned species. If you ever dive the rocks and wrecks in the Gulf you know that they are loaded with Mangrove Snapper. Now just like the sheaphead, they may not be the easiest fish to catch but there are plenty of them. So we will focus this year on some of these other species and try our best to educate our anglers about what the future holds for this industry, and that a good day on the water does not mean just loading the boat with Grouper or other excellent table fare. But it also includes having a fun, sharing good times with your colleges and if you do manage to fill the box then it was a great day.

Don't forget to downsize your tackle this time year. We are back down to 15 and 30bl tackle with as little weight as possible. Hope you are adapting well to the circle hooks and to all our readers and staff here at this great publication have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Capt. Sam Medigovich
Hernando Beach, Florida

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