It’s been a busy June for everyone at the Sea Hag Marina. The fishing was exceptional, there were some great tournaments, and we had a new addition to the Sea Hag family. Colby Eugene Snyder , son of Brittany and Derrick, was born, appropriately enough, on the 21st, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. All are doing well, and congrats to the proud parents. The month began with the Doug Johnson Reeling for Kids tournament and in spite of tough offshore conditions, there were some great catches. I got to fish with Paul Michas and Noah Brindise and we found some nice reds, including a 26 ½ inch fish. There were over 100 boats fishing this year and in spite of some dicey weather, we had a great time. The NautiGirls tournament was held on June 16th with some excellent fish brought in. Missie Schneider and Ray Hedgecock show off a great catch of June offshore fish: red snapper, red grouper, blackfin tuna and kingfish. Late in the month, Nuts & Bolts of Fishing had their Fish ‘n Fest event. We managed to dodge Tropical Storm Debby and get in two great days of fishing. People came from as far as Minnesota and in spite of some tough offshore weather, there were some great catches. On the first day I fished with Dan Myers and Sherman Harris. Sherman scored with a big red on topwater early in the day, and Dan got some fine trout. On day two, Jason Dempsey found a few nice trout along with John Wooten, the Wildman of Minnesota, and I found this nice red as well.
July 2012 Fishing Forecast
For the July forecast, there are two huge events occurring as of July 1. Scallop season opens, and gag grouper season opens as well. And this year the scallop season will again be extended another two weeks until September 25th. The Sea Hag is getting ready for scallop season with our great rental boats, lots of accommodations (although they are going fast) and diving and fishing equipment you can use for both events. Scallop season in Steinhatchee has to be experienced, and we cordially invite you to share it with us. Our own Capt. Tommy Thompson has just written a great column that has everything you need to know about scalloping here. And just before publication time, the NOAA Fisheries people have extended the red snapper season six days. The season now will end on July 17th, so you’ve got an extra week to get some of the best-tasting fillets anywhere. Because gag grouper season is opening, we’re going to try something new this month. I’ve asked the offshore captains to provide a little inside knowledge about how to target and catch gag grouper.
Captain Steve Hart (www.legallimitscharters.com) notes that gags tend to like more substantial structure than red grouper. Reds are not so picky; they will spread out and can generally be found around edges of live bottom. After some major weather like the storm we are having now with Tropical Storm Debby, he recommends really working your best rocks and ledges for gags. He uses a 4/0 Penn or equivalent and prefers 60 lb. mono rather than braid just for the tangle factor. Steve suggests using an 80 lb. leader and normally a 6 ounce sinker depending on current and depth. His first choice in baits is a live pinfish. While frozen bait works well on reds and will work for gags as well, if you have it available he would always suggest taking live bait. While trolling works in colder water, Steve prefers bottom fishing, especially during the warm months.
Captain Wiley Horton (www.tunersportfishing.com/) also likes to use the old style Penn 4/0 with the chrome spool, mounted on a seven foot rod with a quick taper and some backbone toward the butt section that gives you some lifting power. He uses mono for bottom fishing, 40 lb. test with 80 pound leader inside of 80 feet, and 60 lb. test with 100 pound leader in deeper water. He suggests fishing with the rod tip near the water to maximize your ability to get a nice fish off the bottom, and keep them out of the rocks. Wiley feels either dead (pogies or squid) or live baits (pinfish, small grunts) can be effective, but also frequently trolls lipped diving plugs as a great option to break up the day. He uses braid for trolling to help get plugs deeper while keeping them closer to the boat. He asks that all grouper fishermen keep a dehooker and venting tool available to release the abundance of red snapper you are certain to catch after the season closes.
Remember that our Ship’s Store has literally everything that you will need for this month, from rods and reels, line (both braid and mono), terminal tackle, diving plugs and both live and frozen bait for gag grouper fishing, and masks, snorkels, dive flags, ladders, and even fishing licenses for scalloping. Most of our guides do scallop trips, and they will also offer split trips with a half-day of fishing and for a later cool-off, a half-day of scalloping. Take advantage of the broad range of services and equipment available at the Sea Hag Marina Ship’s Store.
Breaking news…we delayed posting this report to find out how things were looking on the first day of scallop season. The day started with a comfortable west wind, slightly tannin-stained water, and lots of floating grass (courtesy of TS Debby). There was concern about the amount of fresh water close to the river, but apparently the scallops didn’t notice. Jim and Joyce Hunt, sitting on their balcony, decided to count the number of boats going out. Between 6 AM and noon, over 400 boats came by their house at Marker 41. Scallops were easily available, with quick limits. For more details of the first day, see Capt. Tommy Thompson’s report below.