Gulf temps still mild, but shallow water Grouper fishing is anything but.
<p>As the temperatures of January begin to plummet most of the Gulf Coast species should already be holding in their annual winter hideouts. But with temperatures still so mild myself and other guides in the area are still fishing for redfish, seatrout, grouper, shark, mackerel, and pompano in areas where we normally fish during the heart of the summer. With water temps still holding in the mid to upper 60ís many of the inshore, offshore, and freshwater species have stayed put because there is still plenty of bait, consistent water temperatures, a little boat traffic due to the holidays. All these three factors considered I expect 2008 fishing to be one of the best in years.
On a recent trip with RG Schmidt (a writer for the Florida Fishing Weekly) and Mike Baize (My fishing buddy) we were spoiled with NO wind, crystal clear water, tons of bait, and plenty of fish. All of which led to high expectations. Our target for the day was Grouper, but as to be expected with Gulf fishing this time of year, nothing is predictable. On most trips I make it a point to carry a variety of rod and reel combos rigged for what ever fish we may encounter throughout a day of fishing. On this day I could not of had enough rods rigged for all the variety of species we encountered.
I started the morning by pulling up to a rock pile I had marked a few years back just offshore in less that 8 ft of water. To my amazement there was life teeming all over this area structure. There was glass minnows that coved the rocks from top to bottom and as soon as I threw out a little bit of cut chum the area around the structure erupted. Grouper, mackerel, seabass, sheephead, and even bluefish came to find out what the commotion was all about. Myself and Mikeís first casts both led to keeper Spanish Mackerel. After throwing those two fish in the box, I quickly picked up my 8 wt fly rod to make the trip a little more interesting. To my amazement, my very first throw with a Gotcha cockroach fly pattern led to an undersized grouper jumping completely out of the water to devour my fly. What a sight! Some anglers donít realize how aggressive grouper can actually be, because they are usually targeted in such deep water. But when you sight cast to feeding grouper in shallow water it is a sight to see when you watch them jumpout of the water after a striped fly.
After catching and releasing a few Spanish mackerel, grouper, seabass and bluefish I decided to make a short run to one of many shrimpboat wrecks scattered throughout the area. This wreck was in a little deeper water (10-12 ft) and was just as full of life as the rock pile I had previously made a stop at. With in minutes of chumming the same result tons of bait fish and plenty of mackerel, bluefish, grouper, and seabass coming to the surface. Instead of picking up my fly rod I decided make a few casts with a larger Shimano 3500 BaitRunner combo that was equipped with an F-14 Rapala. My second cast on this particular wreck led to a beautiful 10 lb Grouper gobbling up my Rapala. Before I even had the opportunity to point out the particular area where I caught the Grouper both Mike and RG had both made perfect casts directly over the structure. Within 10-15 cranks of the reel both of my guys were hooked up. Mike brought in another beautiful 25Ē grouper and RG brought in another smaller grouper. After making a few more casts on the wreck we were thrilled to bring in grouper after grouper and a few scattered sheephead, mackerel, and sea bass.
All in all it was another beautiful day along shallow reefs, rocks, and wrecks of the Crystal River and Homosassa area.
If crystal clear water, sight casting opportunities, and long drag screaming runs is what gets your blood boiling all over again, Give Red Hot Fishing Charters a call today were in the Fishing Memories business.
Capt. Kyle Messier
About The Author: Captain Kyle Messier
Company: Red Hot Fishing Charters
Area Reporting: Crystal River and Homosassa
Bio: Capt. Kyle Messier is a full-time professional fishing guide with over 15 years experience fishing the inshore and offshore waters of Florida. Capt. Kyle's home waters off the world famous Crystal River and Homosassa area produce a number of speices including Redfish, Speckled Trout, Tripltail, Shark, Black Drum, and Largemouth Bass. Inshore light tackle fishing is his specialty, but as long as an area is wet he can figure out a way to catch fish in it.