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Alex CrawfordCaptain Alex Crawford is a full time sport fishing charter guide who has fished Florida's Forgotten Coast for twenty-one (21) years. Alex Crawford's full bio and more articles

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Get Gagged in the Gulf with Gag Grouper

Current Rating: 3.05 / 1,848 rates      

Get Gagged in the Gulf with Gag Grouper Get Gagged in the Gulf with Gag Grouper
By Alex Crawford

Get gagged in the Gulf!!! Tis the season to go Grouper Grabbin' in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Gag grouper fishing is arguably the best of the best on the Florida Panhandle's unforgettable coast. Just ask the Keys guides that come all the way to the Panhandle to go grouper fishing. The fishery is extremely healthy both in quantity and quality of fish, regardless of what you may hear from Government agencies.

A few days ago this Captain/Writer accepted an invitation to go way out to the deep South Grouper Grabbin' aboard the Miss Loretta. Owner Aaron Taylor's 35 Luhrs has the range and seaworthiness to venture out 38 miles in search of back buster Groupers. A flat calm day revealed itself as we cleared the granite boulders of the Sikes Cut. Captain Dave Giddens set the auto pilot on due South, as the crew readied several bait catcher Sabiki rigs. The crew for this day's adventure included Mr. Aaron Taylor, Mr. Billy Howell, Mr. Bubba Gander, Captain David Rich and mate, Captain Alex Crawford.

Our first stop produced a bait well full of frisky livies. Pinfish and grunts are irresistable Grouper candy. A couple bags of cigar minnows thawed in the bucket for backup reserve baits.

The tackle for the day's mission was strong and reliable. Penn 4/0 Senators hooked up with Electra-Mates would easily handle the 130 foot retrieves. Terminal tackle included 80 pound leaders with 12/0 Mustad circle hooks and 12 ounce egg sinkers. Stout fish require stout gear.

Not being much on electrics, my trusty Shimano 25 TLD and Penn Tuna stick were my weapons of choice. Past trips with this group of wise men prepared me for the inevitable harassment, when I gimballed my rod in the gunnel holder to pump on back breaker fish. Better to endure the verbal jabs, than the lower back pain I decided.

Bubba Gander jump started the action with a bruiser Red Grouper easily over 20 pounds. What a pure adrenalin rush to hear the Electra-Mates whining their unmistakable music with spools rolling backwards under heavy pressure. Staying on the power button will put the rod tips in the water everytime. Just hang on for dear life and forget about pulled hooks.

Aaron and Billy were next with giant Gags. Pandemonium broke out in the huge cockpit with multiple hookups. Captain David Rich and I were on the leaders, boxing and releasing shorts and rebaiting at light speed. If this action does not turn you on, you are not breathing. Fishing(catching) is FUN!!!

Captain Dave in the tower was turning the big agile Luhrs to keep us on the fish. The outsized Furuno bottom machine was lit up like a Christmas tree. What an absolute art it is to keep the lines vertical with wind and current. Captain Dave is a master of it.

The catch for the day's work included tasty scamp and black seabass, as well as Gag and Red Grouper. We had a few 20's, several 10's and a mess of 5's. Another spectacular day on the big pond and a chance to get a tug on the line with friends. The fishing stories and comraderie is always what makes the whole experience so special. My personal thanks to everyone for allowing me to join in the fun.

Until next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,
Captain Alex Crawford

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