Tuesday, 5/29, I spent the day fishing in 47 feet, using live shrimp, with Robert Pierce, Brian Clark, and Julie Meng. The trio hoped to catch some good table-fare, along with doing some sport-fishing for bigger fish. I had hoped to put them on some goliath grouper for the latter, but the goliaths were nowhere to be found on this particular day. Just a few days ago, they were so abundant that it was difficult to reel up any catches without them attacking, but today, they were in hiding. We did hook and release a 40-inch sharp-nose shark, though, and then we set about finding some food-fish. The group caught a dozen nice, keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, two keeper hogfish at 12 ½ and 17 inches, five keeper yellowtail snapper to 14 ½ inches, and five whitebone porgies to 14 inches. They released seven smaller mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel to 20 inches, crevalle jacks, blue runners, grunts to 14 inches, and gag and red grouper shorts.
After about a week of being land-locked, with unsettled weather, I got back out fishing on Saturday, 6/9. NOAA's forecast was for one-foot seas out to twenty miles, but I knew that would not be the case, after a hellacious thunderstorm rolled through our area during the wee hours of Saturday morning. Gary and Gina Freels and their eleven-year-old son, Cole, were hoping to fish the gulf this time, since they fished bayside last time they went with me. So, we headed to the reefs, about five miles offshore, and conditions there told us not to venture any further. We did well there, using live shrimp to catch three keeper Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, five keeper mangrove snapper to 13 inches, and three keeper flounder at 14, 15 and 17 inches. We released fifteen croakers to 15 inches, gag grouper shorts, ladyfish, crevalle jacks, and two snook at 18 inches and 26 inches.
Monday morning, 6/11, I headed out to about 44 feet, where I fished with Terry and Linda Hedrick and their two daughters, Sarah and Natasha. We did well with red grouper, using pinfish as bait, and catching about thirty of them in all, four of which were keepers ranging from 20 ½ inches to 22 inches. Using shrimp, we caught and released mangrove snapper shorts, yellowtail snapper shorts, lane snapper shorts, one short hogfish, and a 40-inch sharp-nose shark. We also caught a keeper porgy and a 23-inch Spanish mackerel on shrimp.
Tuesday morning I again headed out to fish in depths of 45-50 feet, this time with Scott Coon, John and Diana Finney, and Rich Reber. We used pinfish and live shrimp to catch about twenty-five red grouper, all of which were released, except for the 22-inch keeper that Rich landed. The group also caught a half-dozen nice lane snapper to 15 inches, and Diana caught a 12 ½ inch hogfish, all on shrimp. We released two 35-inch sharp-nose sharks and also had a big barracuda harass our catches for a while.
Wednesday, I fished with Dr. Mark Dreyer and his son, Patrick. We began in about 50 feet, where we caught some Spanish mackerel in the 23 to 26 inch range, to use for goliath-bait. We caught and released two goliaths, one 65 pounds and the other 150 pounds. We continued out 37 miles to about 71 feet, where we fished with live shrimp. The father-son team caught and released a 12-pound bonito and two sharp-nose sharks. Tears were nearly shed when we landed a 28-inch, eleven pound gag grouper that had to be released, due to closed season! We also released about fifty red grouper shorts. We caught fifteen nice yellowtail snapper, all in the 14-15-inch range, along with a couple of big lane snapper at 15 inches, and two keeper mangrove snapper. We also caught five nice whitebone porgies, all around 15 inches, and five large grunts. We released eight smaller mangroves, five smaller yellowtails, and nine smaller lanes, since the guys wanted only enough fish for a couple of meals, and they planned to fish with me again the next day.
Thursday, Mark and Patrick Dreyer fished offshore with me again. Patrick was in awe of the goliaths he caught yesterday, and wanted to battle another one. So we fished a couple of ledges and wrecks, out to about 30 miles and 65 feet. The first goliath we hooked was about 40 pounds and, although it put up a darn good fight, it paled in comparison to what Patrick hooked next: a six foot long goliath, estimated at about 450 pounds! Patrick managed to get it to the surface for some video, before releasing it. It had been chasing the 40-pounder as we reeled the smaller fish in, so we immediately dropped another line and got the big boy! The Dreyers also caught a 39-inch cobia, for which we used a jig and a plastic tail, along with about thirty mangrove snapper and thirty lane snapper. They kept seven of each snapper species, and released the rest, since they had caught more than enough to eat already. They also released fifteen crevalle jacks, some whitebone porgies, three king mackerel just short of keeper-size at 23 1/2 inches, and two sandbar sharks. We sighted about thirty sandbar sharks on one of the wrecks. We also sighted about sixty permit, but they appeared during the cobia frenzy and quickly left the area, before we could drop a crab over the side for them.
Friday morning, I headed to the near-shore reefs with Jeremy Havrilla and his nine-year-old son, Josh. We used live shrimp to catch and release a few triggerfish, along with red and gag grouper shorts. The guys also caught some dinner fish, including grunts, mangrove snapper, porkfish and Spanish mackerel.
The photo shown is of angler and well known local outdoorsman, Trapper Rudd, with a 23-inch red grouper, caught on a bait-fish, on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link: