This past Wednesday, July 10th six of us chartered the “Fish Taxi” captained by Ryan Wagner out of the Salt Rock Grill for some off shore action. The targets would be grouper, AJ’s, snapper or just whatever was biting. Joining me would be my good friend Mark Watanabe, Rusty Driver, Rob Devore, Edward Ratanun and Tyler Peterson. Arriving before our schedule launch time of 7am, we quickly loaded the 32” Sabalos and made a short trip down the ICW, stopping just short of Johns Pass for fuel. Once done with that we headed out the pass for our 20 mile trip out into the Gulf.
Once out there we made a few attempts on a couple spots, but found ourselves quickly drifting off the fish, so we loaded the kayaks back on a made another short run to an area with a larger bottom structure. The capt then anchored the boat and threw a trailing line off the back, which we tied off to. The reasoning behind this was to keep us over the fish and so we wouldn’t drift and drag the fish with us. If that happened, the fish would scatter off the spot and the bite would die off. So once in position we dropped our baits, which consisted of either cut or whole sardines and live pinfish and the fight, was on. One Red Grouper after another. You had to go through 20 or 30 short ones to get one that was legal to keep, that being larger than 20”s.
This was the custom knocker rig we were using.
Just about the time to load up and make the run home, we ran out of bait. Which was ok as most of us were dog tired from catching so many grouper. It’s hard to describe how hard of a fight a 19” grouper can put up. Without being able to use your back and legs, it puts a strain on your arms and we were all pretty tired at this point. So we loaded up and made the run back to Indian Shores and the Salt Rock.
Would I do it again, sure would. We had a great time. I would like to fish an area with a bit more variety next time, something with a bit more structure rather than the spongy bottom we ended up on. I found getting in and out of my Hurricane Phoenix 14 was very easy. It was no trouble at all to load my milk crate and camera from the side of the boat. I think it’s best to plan out a trip with your fellow anglers and minimize the gear you intend to bring, that way it makes loading and unloading much quicker.
Anyway, it was a blast. Baked grouper was delicious. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.