No joke, just gags - Grouper is back on the racks

Clint Gough of Cypress, Texas, holds up one of the many grouper caught on the Phoenix Wednesday with Capt. Scott Robson.

The only gag being pulled at the docks is grouper — and lots of them.

"It's the real thing … like Coca-Cola," said Capt. Kelly Windes of the Sunrise as he looked over at his rack full of gag grouper and scamp Wednesday afternoon.

Windes and his group of local anglers came in from an all day trip about 5 p.m. Wednesday, amidst the rain, with a pile of gags.

But they were not the only ones to catch grouper, which just became in-season on July 1.

Texas anglers on the Phoenix with Capt. Scott Robson came in during the drizzle with grouper and scamp.

Anglers on the One of a Kind with Capt. Casey Godwin pulled in a big grouper, a couple of wahoo, mingo and white snapper. Word is they caught one of the wahoo on the way out and one on the way in. Not a bad way to start and finish a fishing trip.

Capt. Neill Finkel of the Shock'n Y'all, who is always so kind to offer a bottle of water to this reporter on those hot scorching days on the docks, said they hooked up with four shark — two nurse shark, one tiger and broke off a big bull shark, all on a four-hour fishing trip.

The New Florida Girl's American Spirit with Capt. Jim Green at the helm came in with tubs and tubs of mingo and white snapper.

Game On with Capt. Eric Thrasher pulled in 82 mingo and white snapper and one bull shark.

Capt. Brandon Wright on Destin Bay Charters came in with a nice catch of red snapper. Anglers have through July 14 to land red snapper in state water aboard boats that are not federally permitted.

Alabama and Florida anglers on the Fish In Daze with Capt. Robbie Broestler reeled in a limit of red snapper, black snapper, lane snapper, mingo and white snapper.

Louisiana anglers on the Cutting Edge with Capt. Steve Regan landed several grouper, scamp and a couple of wahoo. The anglers were all excited about the wahoo they caught on the way in, trolling a high-speed lure.

"That reel was humming," said Mike Peterman of Cincinnati, who landed the larger of the two wahoo. "The captain cut back on it, so we could get some of that line back in."

Once they got the wahoo to the boat, Peterman couldn't believe the array of colors on the fish.

"The color on it was gorgeous. Blue and gold … it was incredible," Peterman said.

The Starfire with Capt. John Geisbrook came in with king mackerel. Capt. Bernie LeFebvre on the Windwalker II pulled in king mackerel and white snapper as did the group on the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes. The Full Draw with Capt. Justin Destin came in from an afternoon trip with a rack of mingo and white snapper.

Texas anglers on the Perfect Shot with Capt. Brady Bowman and deckhand Greg Meyers came in from an eight-hour trip with six gag grouper, red grouper, eight scamp and some big mingo. The largest of the grouper, weighing about 30-pounds, had four hooks in its mouth, "and none of them are ours," Meyers said.

The JustinTime with Capt. Chip Godwin backed in with a grouper, scamp, wahoo and mingo.

Capt. Ed Shields on the Silver Lining and his group came in from a four-hour trip with a couple of king mackerel, mingo and white snapper.

Capt. Gary Jarvis aboard the Backdown 2 pulled in some big mingo, white snapper and amberine.

The Daybreak with Capt. Judah Barbee and his group reeled in 13 king mackerel, grouper, lane snapper and a bonito.

From what this reporter could see, almost every boat that went for more than four hours had a gag on the racks, and that's no joke.

See you on the docks.