Many exciting events happen near the end of September. The temperatures cool, the rainy season comes to a close, and winter species of fish reappear. Although we’re permitted to keep specific grouper species beginning in June, local anglers will tell you they aren’t usually big enough until November. But here in Terra Ceia Bay, it’s grouper season!
Grouper is one of the harder species to catch, and in turn, one of the highest in demand. You’ll find it on almost every restaurant menu and can’t miss the “Best Grouper Sandwich” claims on the beach.
Because grouper is a member of the Black Seabass family, the texture is firm, and the taste is sweet. Large flakes and a prominent bone structure make this fish great for eating in any recipe, and the restaurants know this. They charge a pretty price for such phenomenal table fare, and the only way to have a better experience is to cook it yourself.
Inside Tampa Bay, we mostly catch Gag Grouper. You can keep up to four per person or aggregate depending on the species.
Grouper are reef fish which means you’ll mostly find them around pylons or nearshore structure. Every angler seems to have their secret spot and tips for catching them.
Grouper hit hard, and fast. They’re ready for a fight at the slightest sign of weakness. In that moment where you’re unsure whether you’ve been hit or snagged – there’s a good chance you’ve been “grouper’d.”
Charter Captains who are catching grouper can save you weeks learning locations, bait, and techniques to catching this specific species. If you have the winter to figure it out, you can utilize our location to test the waters.
Tips we suggest for any angler are as follows:
- Know your water. Tampa Bay is shallow. Along with shallow waters come many different habitats. Seagrass, sand flats, and piers will all bring with them different species and bait. Because each fish has its own habitat, you’ll need to know where to go to find these locations.
- Know your fish. Knowing how your fish behaves is key to learning how to catch them. Where do they rest? Where do they go when they’re not feeding? What do they feed on? These clues will lead you to your closest source for catching if you let them. Pay attention.
- Know your vessel/gear. Knowing your vessel and/or gear is paramount in making sure you can reel in the next big fish. If you don’t know how to set the drag, use the tension of the rod, or allow the weight of the boat to help you – you’re leaving your catch up to chance. Although we love gambling and invite you to join our weekly poker night at the clubhouse – we’re pretty sure you’ll want to avoid gambling when it comes to a chance at your personal best.
We invite you to meet them and explore all our area has to offer while you’re here. Whether you’re here to catch fish, enjoy the sunshine, or simply avoid the snow, we hope you get a chance to try this mighty fish – for the sake of your spirit and ours.
Here at Fisherman’s Cove Resort, we’re offering water-side RV spots, a private boat ramp, and a community of anglers who look forward to sharing in your big fish story. See you soon!
Written by Janel Jungels at FishLikeUs.com
Photo credit: Fishlikeus.com