Low 53, High 82
Yesterday the fishing fleet returned to the Gulf of Mexico for the last weekend of Grouper season, until it re-opens April 1. This time I joined Jerry on his Sailfish 1900, along with his friend John, for John's first fishing trip into the Gulf. Subaru Jim was joined by a new guy named Bob, on Bob's 22 Robalo, and Al brought a boatload of 5 on his Bayliner 23 Trophy.
Al is selling his Bayliner, as it is a cuddy cabin, walk around style hull and he wants a center console. The CC is a better hull configuration for the type of fishing we do around here. I helped him out by creating a craigslist ad that generated a prospective buyer, who joined us on this outing.
We launched from Gasparilla boat ramp at 8 AM. It was a chilly start, at 50* but it warmed to the upper 70's while we fished. The seas were a little rough going out to the fishing grounds, 25 miles off shore, banging the hull against the water and even getting airborne on a few rouge waves. Once we stopped it was quite comfy. We had a highly productive day, catching more keeper size Red Grouper than I ever had before. Between Jerry, John and I we boxed 11 Grouper, ranging in size from the minimum 20" to a big pig of a 26" fish Jerry hauled in. There's a 4 fish per angler limit on Grouper, so we were just 1 shy of limiting out. I also kept a really nice Lane Snapper and a big ol' Grunt, all good eating. We fished as far out as 29 miles, in depths ranging from 80-100 feet.
We released quite a few short Grouper, as well. Subaru Jim and Bob landed 2 keepers and I'm not sure what Al's tally was. The ride back in was about 90 minutes and it was rough early but settled down as we got closer to shore. We rode in the Robalo's wake for a while and that helped. I was riding up front in Jerry's boat and took some sea sprays to the face but was able to shoot this little video (below), along with some still shots.
We arrived back at the ramp just before 5PM. I'm sad to see the Grouper season end for a few months, but for us...it went out with a bang.
Video clip, running the Gulf
Where we fished: