Grouper are biting near Skyway bridge with some two-for-one specials

As I scrolled through social media feeds on Wednesday, my eye was drawn to a very unique picture.

It was from Capt. John Gunter, who has been fishing successfully quite a bit inside Tampa Bay. Most of his reports have been of the excellent mangrove snapper bite with plenty of big snapper and quite a few gag grouper mixed in.

But this picture was a bit different.

“Two on one plug at once,” Gunter’s caption said. While trolling a red and white Mirror Lure 25+ in Tampa Bay, both the front and back treble hooks locked onto a gag grouper, netting the unusual two for one.

“I thought we were stuck in bottom,” Gunter said. “It wasn’t moving at all at first. Then when Rob Wright grabbed the rod, he felt head shaking and I thought we had a big one.”

The big one was actually two good ones. The fish on the front set of hooks was a healthy 28-inch gag grouper, legal sized and headed for the ice. The fish on the back was 23 inches, just shy of the 24-inch requirement for gag grouper.

“That’s the second time I’ve had that happen,” said Gunter. “It was almost a year to the date, two on one plug on September 20, 2018.”

Those two grouper were a few of the nearly 30 that Gunter landed Wednesday. He landed another keeper at 26 inches all within sight of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

“Normally I don’t really try fishing for gags until Halloween in the bay, but we’ve been getting so many while snapper fishing,” Gunter said. “When the snapper fishing was slow one day we started trolling the channel edge and almost immediately doubled up on big gags. ... Just trolling the hard bottom channel edges we’ve caught gags up to 32 inches this year and it should only get better.”

After seeing Gunter’s story I kept scrolling through pictures. Then I saw an eerily similar picture. I thought perhaps it was the same fish from a different angler with Gunter, but this time it was Capt. Brian Lambert. On the same day that Gunter landed his two fish on one plug, Lambert posted something with a bit of resemblance.

“Have you ever hooked up a double grouper on a bomber?” Lambert’s caption asked.

Below was a picture with Lambert showcasing two big gag grouper on the same lure.

“One was 25 inches and the other was 22 inches,” he said. “Thought we had a good one! We caught three keepers. I love to use black and gold broken back bombers when trolling. ... I always troll the ditch or deep side of the channel pulling planners on Shimano TLD 2-speeds.”

Lambert’s fish were also landed within sight of the Skyway, so it seemed the grouper were very hungry this week. A couple anglers and captains have a story of the time they landed two fish on one lure. The next step is trying to land three on one, which should prove quite difficult!