The long awaited Gag Grouper / American Red Snapper Fishing Season has Finally Arrived!!
Couple notes and points before I get into my Offshore St Petersburg, FL / Tampa Bay Fishing Report..
Like last year, American Red Snapper Season has Two Separate Seasons for Fishing outside state waters, and remember, there are no Re Snapper inside State waters anywhere Near St Petersburg Florida..
First The recreational season
– Begins June 1st and ends June 9th.
Secondly, Charter Captain Season
– Begins June 1st and Ends July 19th
– ONLY FOR Charter Captains with a Valid Federal Permit!
For Both, the minimum Length is 16″ and Each Angler is permitted to keep 2 American Red Snapper. The Size Limit on Gag Grouper is 24″ and Each Anger is also allowed to keep 2. The Season on Gag Grouper is June 1st to December 31st for both recreational Fishing and Charter Captains.
As for the Offshore Tampa, FL Fishing Report…
The 1st 3 Days of the season the bite for Red Snapper (ARS) has been Sluggish West of the 40 Fathom (240ft) Break. The fish have been chewing, however the Moon Cycle has made Currents a little Stronger and the fish lethargic. On my offshore trips we have been Targeting the ARS around the Morning Solunar then peeling off to Hunt Gags when finished. The key to success has been Getting Lines on the fish and doing so While the fish are chewing early in the AM Around or before first light. Even though Gags and ARS live together on Most of our spots, Take the Time to Get the ARS in the box. Water Clarity West of the 40 Break has been spectacular. Fluorocarbon Leaders, Lighter weight (Which also poses a problem when fishing the currents) have been helpful. We have been fishing Dead Bait Exclusively for ARS.
Gag Grouper has been easy to target. Same rules as years past. Dead Bait to start, Live Bait to seal the deal. I like using a 100+ Pound Leader to keep from changing out knicked leaders all day. Scamp in this area have been easy targets. Dead or Live Sardine will get the job done.
One thing to note is Shark Activity has been an issue on some areas. Nothing worse then having a 8ft Lemon Shark pull up behind a 25 pound ARS just to rip it in two. Bring Plenty of Cold water to stay hydrated as the weather has been HOT and the Winds have been almost non existent the last three days. Eating a banana will keep any dehydration cramps away.
/ Capt John
Island Lure Fishing Charters St. Pete Beach, FL
And Now some Photos: