Grouper, Grouper and more Grouper
Tuesday, the fog stayed offshore giving us a "Chamber of Commerce "day inshore. Dale and Elaine vacationing from Northwestern Alberta Canada had all the sunshine and 80 º temperatures they came south to experience. When I told them we would target inshore grouper and snapper they found it hard to believe we could do this inshore. I assured them that we would never venture into the gulf. Today was a special tide day in that we only had one a low tide at 7:45 AM and no high tide at all. Five minutes from the ramp we started trolling. Within 15 minutes of first dropping a plug in the water Dale had his first grouper of the day, a nice 21 inch Gag Grouper. After another 15 minutes of trolling we gave up on that spot because of the excessive floating mats of weeds fouling our plugs. We then started working some of my inshore rock piles and a few docks. Dale hooked another nice 19 inch grouper on the "bike reef". Then we moved on to one of my favorite docks. Dale again hooked up first with a big 5 or 6 lb Sheepshead that bit a select shrimp. I moved us around to the other side of the dock and it turned in to the "Elaine show" as she began to hook up on just about every cast with 15 to 20 inch gag grouper and a few very nice snapper. She put on a clinic catching over a dozen plus fish to her husbands 2 fish. We next took a shore lunch break and saw a big manatee before heading out to a pelican rookery to look for redfish. The redfish were not home so we went a couple of miles and once again began trolling our plugs. This time Dale hooked up first with another 21 inch gag. I was working very hard to get Elaine a big gag when Dale hooked up again with a 20 inch fish. Then all of a sudden it happened, Elaine's rod bent and the reel began to scream loudly. By the time I kicked the boat out of gear her rod had a steady bend and no sign of a fish on the other end. One of two things may have happened, either the plug hung on some obstruction on the bottom or the grouper had found a hole or rock to get under. I took the rod and motored back to the spot keeping the line tight all the time thinking that we had hooked the bottom. Once the boat was over the hung plug I put slack in the line and less than a minute I could feel the head shake of a fish. I tightened the line and I could tell that it was a big boy as the rod once again bent double and jumped like a bucking horse. I tried to hand the rod back to Elaine but she wanted nothing to with this fish. Once the grouper was onboard it measured 24 inches. End of a great day of fishing on the West Coast of Florida for two cold Canadian visitors. The couple gave the Captain the catch because Dale is allergic to some sea food and didn't want to take a chance and ruin the balance of their vacation which meant that the captain and his family had a great dinner of gag grouper, snapper and sheepshead. I can not begin to tell those that have never had the opportunity to eat real fresh caught seafood how outstanding it tastes.
Captain Little Jim Fesperman
About The Author: Captain Jim Fesperman
Company: Hook Setting Charters LLC
Area Reporting: West Coast, Tampa Bay
Bio: THE CAPTAIN: I grew-up around Tampa Bay with a dad and grandfather who also loved the outdoors. They freely shared their love of the outdoors with my brother and me. We were truly blessed with great parents and grandparents……Sure, the old timers didn't like the Snook to eat, because they prepared it the wrong way. They would scale it instead of filleting the fish and removing the soap tasting skin……Pop would take us fishing and camping all the time. Even our vacations would revolve around camping and fishing. I remember a vacation when we camped on the famous sand dunes of the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. We were catching fish during the day and fighting the swarms of mosquitoes at night. On another vacation, we took an old leaky wooden flat-bottom boat down the Homosassa River to an island camping and fishing away the week while battling mosquitoes all night long. But I think our best vacation was to the Florida Keys. This was pre-campground days…..We just drove in Pop's big, old Hudson until we found a place by one of the bridges we liked overlooking the water. We pitched our tents right there between the road and the water. We fished all day and fought the mosquitoes all night. Let's go fishing! Tight lines Captain Little Jim Fesperman Fulltime guide on Tampa Bay and Gulf Beaches