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Old 08-03-2012, 07:12 AM   #1
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I decided that I would like to try some spearfishing in Destin and was wondering if anyone could suggest a reef to try.

I have been been fishing here for a few years but most of my fishing spots are over 100' and I rather try some shallower spots so I have more time to shoot. I have done some pole spearing before but not in this area.

I'll be using a speargun and on Scuba so anything 90' and shallower would be great. I would like to target grouper (Gag, red, scamp). Appreciate any recommendations and advice. I'll probably start diving next week or so as I am on my home from Afghanistan right now.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:36 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ucf_motorcycle View Post
I decided that I would like to try some spearfishing in Destin and was wondering if anyone could suggest a reef to try.

I have been been fishing here for a few years but most of my fishing spots are over 100' and I rather try some shallower spots so I have more time to shoot. I have done some pole spearing before but not in this area.

I'll be using a speargun and on Scuba so anything 90' and shallower would be great. I would like to target grouper (Gag, red, scamp). Appreciate any recommendations and advice. I'll probably start diving next week or so as I am on my home from Afghanistan right now.
Eglin Landing Craft, Janet, Miss Louise, Liberty Ship, Mohawk (right at 100'), are a few.

http://floridasportfishing.com/magaz...resetfilters=0

Here is the reef locater. Just put in Okaloosa county and it will show you all artificial reefs, locations, and depths.
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Old 08-03-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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Thanks I know where to find those. I wasn't sure if they held many grouper. I haven't had much luck fishing on any of them. I'll give it a shot and report back.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:40 PM   #4
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Grouper are arguably the hardest fish to shoot in our area. You may be setting your sights too high in starting with them. From easiest to hardest:

Flounder
Spadefish
Sheepshead
Red Snapper
Scamp
Lane Snapper
Mangrove Snapper
Red Grouper
Gag Grouper
Black Grouper

This is a super-simplified list, and I intentionally left out Aj's that are easy to shoot, but can literally kill you if you're not careful, and Cobia, who are easy to shoot if you find them, and can literally kill you whether you're careful or not

Some folks will have different opinions on that list, but it boils down to getting close enough for a kill shot. Grouper have very sensitive lateral lines, and can detect your excitement level. You have to force yourself to stay relaxed, and to not display predatory behavior. Don't look them in the eye, don't swim directly towards them, don't make rapid movements.

Above all, keep an eagle-eye on your gauges. You're basically driving drunk when you're spearfishing at 90ft, so take it slow, and get OCD on checking your gauges and maintaining situational awareness. We lost two diver's last year in our area, one lobstering, one spearfishing.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:44 PM   #5
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Not up to speed on the wrecks around destin but peeps and the other guys know their stuff so you are in good hands!
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by El Kabong View Post
Grouper are arguably the hardest fish to shoot in our area. You may be setting your sights too high in starting with them. From easiest to hardest:

Flounder
Spadefish
Sheepshead
Red Snapper
Scamp
Lane Snapper
Mangrove Snapper
Red Grouper
Gag Grouper
Black Grouper

This is a super-simplified list, and I intentionally left out Aj's that are easy to shoot, but can literally kill you if you're not careful, and Cobia, who are easy to shoot if you find them, and can literally kill you whether you're careful or not

Some folks will have different opinions on that list, but it boils down to getting close enough for a kill shot. Grouper have very sensitive lateral lines, and can detect your excitement level. You have to force yourself to stay relaxed, and to not display predatory behavior. Don't look them in the eye, don't swim directly towards them, don't make rapid movements.

Above all, keep an eagle-eye on your gauges. You're basically driving drunk when you're spearfishing at 90ft, so take it slow, and get OCD on checking your gauges and maintaining situational awareness. We lost two diver's last year in our area, one lobstering, one spearfishing.
I value your opinion and advice. I find some of it a bit hard to digest though because when diving I have always been surprised at how close i could get to grouper without them running off. It always seemed to me that they were very territorial and would stand their ground till you were about close enough to touch them. Maybe this was because I wasn't actively spearing them and I guess you may be implying that they won't be so brave once I have a speargun in my hand.

I would like to target grouper as Snapper are out due to the season, AJ I feel were like you said more capable of hurting me and the smaller snapper I have only had luck catching in much deeper waters that I wouldn't want to dive in. Plus grouper are delicious.
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Old 08-04-2012, 01:34 AM   #7
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When you put a gun in your hand, grouper know what's up. Not to say you can't get close, but kabong is right. You have to present yourself in a certain manner. Also if you don't stone a grouper, they go straight down and bat shit crazy.
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:45 AM   #8
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If you are after specifically grouper the timber holes or some other natural bottom areas would be your best bet.
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:55 AM   #9
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If you have a boat try finding stuff on your own..unknown runovers we call them. Private wrecks that no one has dove. When spearfishing..keep in mind..literally that the fish are your best buddies and your there to protect them. Dont look em straight in the eye and keep your gun lowered ..until your ready to shoot. Ive had to literally move grouper back with the end of my riffe to get the shot. Just avoid a "seek and destroy" mentality.
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Old 08-05-2012, 06:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ucf_motorcycle View Post
I value your opinion and advice. I find some of it a bit hard to digest though because when diving I have always been surprised at how close i could get to grouper without them running off. It always seemed to me that they were very territorial and would stand their ground till you were about close enough to touch them. Maybe this was because I wasn't actively spearing them and I guess you may be implying that they won't be so brave once I have a speargun in my hand.

I would like to target grouper as Snapper are out due to the season, AJ I feel were like you said more capable of hurting me and the smaller snapper I have only had luck catching in much deeper waters that I wouldn't want to dive in. Plus grouper are delicious.
I've had grouper bump my camera before.

Spearfishing is a different story. Some folks say grouper are sensitive enough to pick up your heartbeat, and they certainly appear to know what a speargun is. I've seen grouper and mangroves swimming up to investigate divers on the way down the anchor line, turn around and flee to the closest hole. Personally, I think they respond more to your body language, movements, and heart rate, than they do to seeing the gun.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you see a shark lazily circling a wreck, paying no particular attention to you, it's pretty cool, heck, you want to get closer! But that same shark swimming directly at you, giving you the stink-eye, triggers a reaction that makes you want to swim to the closest hole

YMMV, you may be able to easily whack a grouper every time you try, I know a few magic people that can do that, but generally, grouper are harder to stalk and kill then the other similar-sized fish on my list. It is an art and a science. I don't have the art, so I concentrate on the science. You won't hurt my feelings by proving me wrong. I mention difficulty only so you won't be discouraged if you find it as hard as most people do.

I've shot 20+pound snapper in 65ft of water, don't think you have to go deep for any fish worthy of your plate. I usually don't see AJ's in shallower water, but they usually don't qualify as edible

Mangrove snapper, and lane snapper are still in season, and both are arguably more tasty than red snapper. Lane snapper are easy to spot, but they're a bit skittish. The usually stay in the open, but they seem to know how far you can shoot. Mangrove snapper are a little skittish too, at least the bigger ones are. The smaller ones are easy to target, but most people (including myself) have trouble being sure a mangrove isn't a red, as they look very similar at depth (within a certain range of sizes).

I may have left triggerfish off my earlier list. They are super-easy to shoot, but be sure you only shoot the ones that appear HUGE, as they're measured at the fork, so you need something like a 17-19" fish for it to measure out as legal.

I've noticed more and more red grouper over the years, and less and less gags. Reds are a little less skittish than gags, so they should be easier to target. Personally, I find it hard to shoot gags for environmental reasons. They're severely overfished (or at least I don't see many) certainly more than AJ's or red snapper. I haven't shot any in a few years, but I'll cut your regulator hose in order to beat you to a scamp or red grouper and I won't turn down a filet when it's time to split fish at the end of the day. It's a personal decision, and I don't fault someone else for shooting them as long as they do so legally.

I only wish a hurricane would blow some hogfish into our area. Man, those things are tasty!!
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