On June 1, American red snapper weren’t the only fish to have their season opened. Flying a bit under the radar for offshore anglers has been the simultaneous opening of gag grouper. Warm summer months are not ideal for gag grouper. They become more difficult to target, with fewer fish schooled on shallower structures anglers love to target in the winter.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be caught. With the opening of red snapper, many anglers running deep have run into big gags, and none were bigger than the beast that Brian Turner and crew of team Haulin’ Grass caught 80 miles offshore in 200 feet of water.
“We were snapper fishing at night, just using a little piece of squid,” Turner said. “That’s when we caught the almost world record gag.”
The world record gag grouper of 80 pounds, 6 ounces was caught in Destin in 1993. Turner would find his a few pounds behind, somewhere in the mid-70-pound range, one of the biggest gags I’ve ever heard being caught from Bradenton. Turner said the light line was not designed for big fish.
“It was caught on a Shimano Talica 30, with 30-pound test and 60-pound leader. It’s not what we were fishing for but that’s what makes it fun,” he said.
Not knowing the true weight of the fish, Turner went to the place so many check their daily weight changes, where shopping is a pleasure, Publix.
“We went to two of them. The first one was just over 70 pounds; the other was up to 75 pounds. It wasn’t quite the record but was close,” he said.
Turner has a new challenge ahead this week, targeting billfish in Cuba. Joining him aboard Turner’s 42-foot Yellowfin will be fellow local marlin expert Scott Rickert to fish the 66th Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament. The tournament is expected to last five days.
“The fishing has been good from reports. Most say they are catching three to five blue marlin a day. They only need to fish within two miles of Havana Harbor, where it’s several thousand feet deep.”
Those interested in keeping up with Turner’s team and how they do can do so on most social media sites by finding the Haulin’ Grass Fishing Team.
For those wanting to see big fish locally, head over to the Bradenton Yacht Club today for the weigh-in of the Fire Charity Fishing Tournament.
The weather has been nearly perfect this weekend and the bite, compared with last weekend, has been fantastic.
I can say that as our four-man crew limited on American red snapper in 30-minutes during the short two-day extension. We also came across a few tuna, yellowtail snapper and big red grouper as well before heading in to beat the storms.
If that’s any indication of the bite in deeper water, I expect to see some awesome fish weighed in.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data