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Gag grouper season adds to normal summer pattern

Published:   |   Updated: July 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says fishing is pretty much stuck in the summer pattern, with the only news being the opening of gag grouper season last week. Offshore anglers have been doing well on the gags in 65 to 68 feet of water, using live and dead bait for some big fish. They also are reporting very large mangrove snapper in those same depths. Inshore, the snook action continues on the beaches, with a good number of fish at Anclote Key. Honeymoon Island is holding some big fish, as well, and Capt. Griff’s son and a fishing buddy hit the northern end there Saturday night, taking 10 fish 38 to 44 inches using live grunts in the surf. All were released unharmed. A few tarpon have been popping up between the south end of Anclote Key and Three Rooker Bar, and good numbers of large and small sharks are being found on the flats at Howard Park, and around Anclote Key.

Tarpon Trading Company, (727) 937-1488: Pete says anglers are finding some tarpon off the points at Anclote Key. Other reasons to visit the key are the snook still on the beach and the reds gathering in the mangroves on the east side of the island. The mouth of the Anclote River and the spoil islands are holding snook and reds. The grass flats around Fred Howard Park, in Tarpon Springs, are giving up some nice trout, and some sharks are being caught there. Offshore, anglers have been taking advantage of the opening of gag grouper season. Reports have been coming in of keeper-sized fish being taken in as little as 12 feet of water out to 120 feet.

One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610: Joe says gag grouper diggers have been heading to deep water, fishing beyond 60 feet for their fish. There have been a number of cobia reports from offshore anglers, with fish showing up on the artificial reefs and rocky bottom patches in as little as 25 feet of water. The back sides of Anclote Key and Caladesi Island have been holding good numbers of reds. Trout fishing has been good early in the day on the deeper grass flats, with the fishing slowing down during the heat of the day. Cobia have been on the inshore flats, and a chum block is the best way to call them in. Anglers fishing the sandy bottom around the barrier islands have been taking fair numbers of whiting. Frozen shrimp on the bottom is all you need.

The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398: Anglers continue to score tarpon off the end of the pier at Redington Shores using live bait on pier outriggers. Other catches include black drum, flounder, and some pompano. Schools of mackerel are cruising by the pier at times, proving good action for those using live shrimp, spoons and Gotcha plugs. There are a fair number of snook clinging to the pilings at the pier, and the trout bite has been after dark. Some small blacktip sharks are being landed.

Pier 60, (727) 462-6466: Kelli says mackerel fishing on Clearwater Beach has been on, with fish being taken daily. Mangrove snapper, flounder, jacks and trout are being taken on shrimp, and a number of snook are being hooked.

Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.

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