Deeper Water Grouper After the Red Tide

Doc StressorDoc Stressor CaptainHomosassa, FLPosts: 2,479 Captain
Folks did great trolling for gags this fall in the shallower areas that weren't hit by this summer's red tide. So I want to talk a bit about fishing the deeper spots out past 35' that were completely devoid of fish during the bloom. I wasn't able to get out much until around Thanksgiving because of motor problems and weather issues. But we were able to get a few trips in near the end of the season where we checked out some of the previously dead bottom areas. The good news is that there were plenty of really nice gags out there in 45-55 ft of water. The bad news was 2-fold: They were only in specific spots rather than spread out like they were before the bloom. And the number of red grouper was way down.

The lower number of reds actually made it easier to catch the gags. The trick to finding the gags was to check out a lot of different areas with good relief and only fish the ones with bait showing. Wherever we saw bait stacked off the bottom we caught gags. So it appears that they weren't affected nearly as much as the reds. I don't know if they were able to move away from the red tide better or if they just happened to be mostly in deeper or shallower spots that weren't hit as hard by the bloom.

There are still keeper sized red grouper out there. Just not in the numbers we had become accustomed to see. A lot of the flat hard sea whip covered areas still seem to lack fish. We brought up lots of sea whip skeletons on the anchor. It will be interesting to see if they come back in good numbers next Spring.

Here's a few pictures:

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Replies

  • bonebone Officer Posts: 1,139 Officer
    I think the water got cold too fast in Nov. to really get a handle on the red grouper situation. There are areas with no fish, I think, but most of the reds either migrated out to warmer water or were effected by the tide? Hard to tell. By May we will have a good idea. Seems the gag bite was enhanced by these circumstances.
  • nicknick Captain Crystal RiverPosts: 4,815 Captain
    Is that les claypool in the last pic?:rotflmao


    Nice feesh!
  • kingkong954kingkong954 Officer Posts: 658 Officer
    While I have no idea what it was like fishing for red group before the red tide, what I experienced during it was completely insane. Stacks of hungry reds at non-traditional depths, and them disappearing as the red tide got closer. To the point where we were catching multiple 12+lb red grouper in state waters.

    The behavior seems to suggest the ability for large quantities of red grouper to move around rather quickly. But it seems the question now is (based on your post): where have they settled at?
  • RedbonzRedbonz Captain Posts: 4,538 Captain
    Thanks for the report Doc...
    If it don't fit force it. If it breaks it needed replace anyways. :banghead
  • capt louiecapt louie Moderator citrus countyPosts: 9,995 Moderator
    Nice gags ,will be interesting to see if the fish were able to skirt the worst areas of the bloom.
    "You'll get your weather"
  • SlackerSlacker Captain Posts: 1,560 Captain
    I found that the red grouper moved in to 30' in large nos. and held there till the red tide left. Not very many by the end of November. I think they did not get slaughtered by the kill and instead moved in or out deeper to avoid it. The reports I read and my personal experience was that there were only limited nos. of red grouper seen dead and most of those under 20".
  • Riptide31Riptide31 Deckhand Posts: 478 Deckhand
    I'm just glad it didnt seem to hurt the gags.........this was the best gag season I've had in a year or two, from Oct -close. Plenty of fish.
  • kingkong954kingkong954 Officer Posts: 658 Officer
    Riptide31 wrote: »
    I'm just glad it didnt seem to hurt the gags.........this was the best gag season I've had in a year or two, from Oct -close. Plenty of fish.

    Last year was way better for us in the ~25-35' range for Gags (Cedar Key)... insanely better. It was a bit difficult this year compared to last.
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Officer Posts: 599 Officer
    I can confirm that there was a massive school of reds out deep traveling along 20 fathom line. I'm talking 150 fish off of one spot thick. These fish were on the move and light colored from being over sand. The only way to get away from them was the wrecks springs or big breaks. Prior to these fish moving in there were a lot of gags out there. Those fish were running 15-25lbs but they moved on and there were only homesteaders left.

    As I said before, I never felt like the red tide was as much of a sky is falling event as some made it out to be. Did some fish die? Yes. But they have tails and they move. Things should be back to normal by spring, especially once the bait run hits. It doesn't take long to establish life on a spot. When a boat is sunk it's amazing how many fish you'll have in 6 months.

    Long story short, don't just go fish your number, go fish the shows of fish.
  • releasegearreleasegear Officer Posts: 727 Officer
    nice gags and report!
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  • kingkong954kingkong954 Officer Posts: 658 Officer
    I can confirm that there was a massive school of reds out deep traveling along 20 fathom line. I'm talking 150 fish off of one spot thick. These fish were on the move and light colored from being over sand. The only way to get away from them was the wrecks springs or big breaks. Prior to these fish moving in there were a lot of gags out there. Those fish were running 15-25lbs but they moved on and there were only homesteaders left.

    As I said before, I never felt like the red tide was as much of a sky is falling event as some made it out to be. Did some fish die? Yes. But they have tails and they move. Things should be back to normal by spring, especially once the bait run hits. It doesn't take long to establish life on a spot. When a boat is sunk it's amazing how many fish you'll have in 6 months.

    Long story short, don't just go fish your number, go fish the shows of fish.

    Was this recently?
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Officer Posts: 599 Officer
    3 or 4 weeks ago
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