Any hope of catching keeper red grouper this year?

I am discouraged by the reports and my one trip out with no keepers. Has the red tide killed the bottom out there and they are gone?

Replies

  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,291 Admiral
    Most are still deep this time of year.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • kingkong954kingkong954 Posts: 637 Officer
    Slacker wrote: »
    I am discouraged by the reports and my one trip out with no keepers. Has the red tide killed the bottom out there and they are gone?

    Looks like most of the reefs in the 50'+ range were beat up really awful by the red tide, and the red grouper have not moved back. Could be years...
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,366 Captain
    I've only been out as far as 90 ft west of Homosassa, but except for a few small areas, the bottom went completely anoxic (no oxygen) and everything attached to the hard bottom died. I've been told by divers and a couple of commercial guys that the kill went all the way to the East side of the Middle Grounds. But I've heard conflicting stories. The most likely reason for that is there are small oasis areas that were not hit as hard the rest. Any surviving fish will be concentrated at these spots.

    I went out just yesterday with only the camera so I could look at as as many spots as possible without being tempted to fish. Even the area between 40 and 50 ft shows damage. The most striking thing is the near absence of sea whips and tube sponges in the hard areas that used to teem with red grouper. There were some fish in spots where the damage was incomplete. These were mostly grunts, triggers, and a few rudderfish. I never saw a single red grouper. I know that there are still a few around since we caught a couple of shorts the week before.

    It's really barren beyond 50 ft. Interestingly, we looked at one rocky area where we had caught gags and a single keeper red a while back and still saw a lot of damage. I'd estimate that only about 20% of the sponges and sea whips were still there. There was a fair amout of fish and bait right around the rocks, but the surrounding hard bottom was barren.

    As A#1 said, the red grouper should be moving into the shallower (40 - 70 ft) areas in May and June. But I don't know where they might be migrating from if everything is dead out to Middle Grounds. They are doing very well on red grouper south of Anclote, so it looks as if they are seeing the type of habitat compression we saw last fall when lots of reds were concentrated in the 25-35 ft zone. My guess is that most of the red grouper in our area were killed. There certainly were a lot of them floating around at the end of July and August. And only a fraction will float to the surface. The rest just rot on the bottom. The red grouper that were concentrated in shallow water in the Fall seem to have scattered back over the deeper dead areas. But there isn't much for them to eat out there until the food chain recovers and that's going to take a least another year. Maybe we'll see a mass migration from the southern areas that weren't hit. But most likely we are going to have to wait for recruitment of juveniles, which is going to take may years. I sure hope that I'm wrong.

    We sure had a couple great years of red grouper fishing though. I'm thankful that I got to participate in the bounty when it was available.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,291 Admiral
    Back when I fish trapped my 1st trip each year was in May. I usually started on the NW/W side of the grounds aprox 125' or so (some of the humps came up to 105'), and then gradually worked shallower as the summer progressed.
    In May lot of the fish still had egg sacs.
    The last 2-3 years of big RG numbers in 35-40' was unusual in my opinion.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 9,675 Moderator
    ANUMBER1 wrote: »
    The last 2-3 years of big RG numbers in 35-40' was unusual in my opinion.

    I was thinking the same thing. I don't fish that zone often but only caught a few shorts when I did over the years.
    "You'll get your weather"
  • Fish HaidFish Haid Posts: 8,119 Admiral
    Need a good Hurricane to stir things up!
    23895.gif
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,291 Admiral
    Fish Haid wrote: »
    Need a good Hurricane to stir things up!
    no.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • SlackerSlacker Posts: 1,472 Officer
    thanks, I guess we will see
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