Move over snapper, make room for grouper

Tina Harbuck

With a smartphone in most everybody’s hand nowadays, a weather forecast is not hard to come by.

But what about a fishing forecast?

Well here’s a fish forecast according to one of the deckhands on the docks, “It’s looking brown with a good chance of red.”

And after I saw the fish they threw on the docks Thursday afternoon, his forecast was correct.

Missouri anglers on the Un Reel with Capt. Justin Destin loaded up on the “brown” grouper and “red” snapper on a 12-hour trip.

They had enough gag grouper, red grouper and scamp to fill the racks and then tossed the red snapper on the dock below. Now that’s a lot of grouper, but anglers can keep up to four per person. Grouper goes by an aggregate per person. Out of one person's four, only two can be gag grouper or red grouper. However, if a person wanted just scamp, they could keep four scamp.

All grouper is good. How can you tell them apart on the racks? Well the red grouper has a red tint to it and the scamp has yellow lips. Those are the two easiest ways to tell. Either way, the Missouri folks are going to be eating good for a while.

They weren’t the only ones to get in on the grouper action. Capt. Judah Barbee on the Stelluna and his group from Tennessee came in with three grouper, a couple of scamp, black snapper, white snapper, red snapper and some big mingo. Sarah Carathers pulled in the biggest on the board, weighing 20-plus pounds.

Capt. Jason Hallmark on the Sea Fix and his group from North Carolina had a good showing of brown. They had four grouper and a scamp to go along with their limit of red snapper. Hallmark said the grouper bite has been really good of late.

As a matter of fact, some folks have said that Hurricane Michael might be the culprit for the good showing of grouper. Usually when a storm blows through it moves the fish around. And it appears the grouper got moved into the hot spot.

Capt. Kyle Lowe and his group from Illinois on the Special K snagged one of those grouper to go along with their red snapper, mingo and black snapper on an afternoon four-hour trip.

Grouper didn’t just show up on Thursday, folks reeled in a good many on Wednesday as well. Capt. Tommy Carter on the Blue Runner II and his group pulled in three gag grouper, a limit of red snapper and black snapper on Wednesday.

Nashville anglers on the Al-Lin with Capt. Harold Staples reeled in four grouper, a limit of red snapper and mingo on Wednesday.

Capt. Bill Watson on the Sweet William III and his group from Tennessee and Georgia got in on the grouper, snapper combo on Wednesday as well. They had two grouper, mingo and red snapper on the racks.

Capt. Casey Godwin on the Suzie Q came in from a six-hour trip on Wednesday with a great looking rack of fish. They had red snapper, red grouper, scamp and gag grouper on the board. Godwin said the tide was running pretty strong, but the fishing was good.

The party boats are even getting in on the grouper, snapper action. Capt. Jim Green on the New Florida Girl’s American Spirit pulled in Wednesday with four tubs filled with fish. In the mix was red snapper, mingo, white snapper, grouper, Almaco Jack and a king mackerel.

Fishing is good right now and I’m thinking the forecast will remain the same “brown with a good chance of red.”

See you on the docks.

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