Epic Gag Grouper Fishn St. Marks 10/21/12

We made the call to take our last licks at some gags before the closure on November first. The crew for the day was myself, Dad, Don (Greenbone), and Mike. We pushed away from shell island fish camp in St. Marks at 730 to a brisk sunny morning. Noaa was calling for 5-10 1-2 but when we made it to the flats..well..let’s just say they were wrong. It was white capping as far as you could see with a stiff 15-20 knot Northeast wind. We caught a well full of pins and pigs and decided to stick to the flats for a few hours and see if she would lay down enough to get to some close federal holes. Surprisingly the flats were producing quite well. After an hour of trout fishing we had 4 nice 16-18" trout and quite a few shorts. Right in the middle of all us catching trout my cork goes under, I set up on it and it is swimming at the boat, as soon as it sees the boat it freaks out and takes off headed to Mexico. Around the boat I go 4 different times, and almost got spooled twice and we finally get a good look at it...a monster 45-50" Bull Red :o . I fought that thing for 20 mins and right when I thought I had the upper hand, unfortunately she came unbuttoned. I have caught a lot of 35-40" Reds all on grouper tackle offshore wile targeting grouper in the fall but boy was this a stud. I fought her on a 7 foot st croix and stradic 4000 with 20 pound braid (knife to a gun fight). We all estimated it around 45-50 pounds. Dam thing was 5-6 inches across the back. After that excitement we could help notice the wind had slacked up and she was finally laying down. We made the call to head offshore to some shallow grouper #s just across the federal line. Half way out we saw bonitas busting bait and played with them for 30 minutes. After catching 4 for the crab traps and cut bait we continued on our way. We pulled up to the first spot in 27 feet and it was dead, a biological dessert. Big rock and relief but no one home, not even sea bass. We knew it was a little early for shallow water grouper fishing (about a month early) but this really hurt our spirits. On to the next spot but still this # only had sea bass, grunts, and spanish on it...not the Gags we were in search of. We made the call to hit our last spot which was the shallowest spot (23 feet) about a mile south of the federal line.. We pulled up to the shallow rocks and dropped the hooked perfectly putting us right on the edge. What happened next only happens in an offshore fishermans dreams. I dropped the first pinfish to the bottom and immediately was pinned to the rail by a nice 27" gag. After I put her in the box I turned around to give some high fives and few chants but was delighted to see dad and don were boat doubled up and pinned to the rail by quality fish. YES...wide open gag bite..get your bait down as quick as you can. Next, mike is dragged across the back of the boat and almost overboard before being rocked up by what was probably a monster gag. The next 25 minutes were a pure chaotic Chinese fire drill. He!!, dad landed 6 gags in 8 drops. Every gag was over 25" and we did not catch a single short. I had the honors of big fish going 30" which was the only one not caught on a live pin but on a big Bonita steak..a couple inches off my personal best. When the smoke cleared we had our limit of 26-30" fish. We caught 13 keepers (keeping eight) in 25 minutes in 23 feet of water...****..definitely the best gag bite I have ever been on. You only get 1 or 2 days a year where the bite is wide open insanity..but that is what we all live for right there. Glad we closed the gag season with a bang! :thumbup: -Tight Lines
Final Tally:
13 Keeper Gags to 30"
4 Keeper Trout to 18"
6 Sea Bass
4 Bonita about 6 lbs
Grunts Galore
4 Happy Anglers :)
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Me and pops with our 4 best
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Gags averaging 26"
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Don with our two best
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Mike with our two best..
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The ride in was the cherry on top
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1/2 the crew with our catch
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Our catch on the day
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Me with the 28" and 30" studs

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