Cedar Key trip in pursuit of first keeper gag
Last week we made the trek over the Cedar Key in pursuit of my first keeper gag before the close of season.* Two previous trips to Crystal River produced only a few shorts.* After having a few too many Monday night, which was my birthday, my fishing crew ( mom, dad, and wife) and I headed out Tuesday morning 12/27 around 10:30 a.m., a little later than planned. We went north to an area I call my mountain dew rock piles in 30 foot of water.* During a previous trip in October, *I was able to find this area thanks to someone who tied off a mountain dew bottle as a marker.* I was able to identify this poor man's fishing marker and found this spot with a bunch of rock piles within close proximity to each other.* We trolled through the area at about 4 knots with dorado and fire tiger colored 30ft.xraps and immediately hooked a few shorts, with one just missing the 24 inch mark.* After going a while with no strikes, we moved out a little further to about 33 ft. We had no luck with the gags so we decided to let the girls catch us some sea bass and grunts on squid for dinner.* After getting enough for a fish fry, we went back in pursuit of my first gag out close to 40 ft. We only caught one short gag and a few more sea bass in the 40 ft. depth so we decided to head back to the mountain dew rock piles.* We caught a few more shorts and I was starting to think my first keeper gag was going to elude me again.* With the sunset starting to get lower in the sky and Dad complaining about how they needed to get back soon so they could walk the dogs, I knew we only had a few more minutes to fish for the day when suddenly...wham! Both rods bend over at the same time.* A couple minutes later my dad and I brought aboard keeper gags. *27 and 26 inchers.* Check mark on my first keeper gag and a nice cold one for the ride in.
Next day, Wednesday 12/28, we got another later start, but this time due to the fog that lasted all day.* Dad and I headed out while the girls went shopping.* We went back to our mountain dew rock piles and started the day with a double hook up on the same lure.* Done this a time or two with bass, but this was a first with gags.* Unfortunately, both were a little less the 24 inches.* Ended up catching one keeper gag at 27 inches for the day and probably 15 shorts, including a 22 1/2 incher on a trout rod with 15lb. braid, 30 lb fluro, and a jig head with a gulp 4 inch new penny shrimp while bottom fishing. **
Some observations: We only used a few different color lures, but dorado color xrap seemed to be the best. Also, the xraps say they use 3x's hardware, which I assume means their split rings and hooks. However, we had two of the keepers stretch out the split rings. One ripped it off the lure completely. Luckily it was stuck by both hooks, otherwise, it would have gotten away. Anyone have this issue and a solution or different type of split ring they use?
After a fun night eating fresh fish and having a few celebratory drinks, we headed back to reality Thursday morning.* Great trip over to Cedar Key.* Next on my list, sheepshead.