Black/Gag grouper in the bay around Destin - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 08-23-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
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Default Black/Gag grouper in the bay around Destin

I'll be heading down for two weeks come September 12th. I only have access to a 22' party barge, so I have to pick my conditions for going outside. I usually fish the Bridge, Coast Guard jetties and the ends of the east and west jetties with good luck but was hoping that someone might enlighten me on the topic in question. If you're not comfortable giving the info to the public, please send me a PM. I know how to keep a secret, and I live in Arkansas!!!!!
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:01 PM   #2
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I definitely don't know all the secrets about Choctawhatchee bay but I've always been told that there are very few legal sized grouper in the bay due to the rather shallow nature of East Pass. However, I have heard stories of a few being caught around the Midbay Bridge.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:39 PM   #3
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Thanks. My BIL was down there about 3 seasons back, mid June, and caught two legal size gags trolling big rattle Traps not too far NE of Crab Island, if you can believe that!!!!

I know that most of the grouper species either like deeper water or head that way when the water temps warm with spring, but Gags and blacks are a different animal at time from what I've read.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:44 PM   #4
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The area your BIL caught his gags is where they used to park the barge full of granite boulders when they repair the East Pass jetties. At night, some of the locals (ahem) would roll a few of the boulders off the barge, thinking maybe the barge was sitting too low in the water and they (ahem) thought they were helping out?

Ease around in the 19 -22 ft depths with your eyes on the bottom machine. There are some ARS there that won't have to be vented and they're too big for Flippper to eat in one bite.

You may also get some large (4#) black sea bass, also. Sweet meat.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:31 AM   #5
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Man, great tip, thanks!!!!! I was down the year after that with my boat and sonar and found nothing in the bay, at least where I went and covered. That of course leaves 99.999% of the bay unsearched, but that's why I thought I'd ask folks that have 10,000% more time and experience down there than myself!

Even where the "Baycones" were supposed to be, all I could find was a VERY SLIGHT rise in the bottom, as if they may have silted over or just sunk into the sand from the current sweeping by.

The party barge that I'll be using doesn't have and sonar, but I was thinking of buying a unit for it. Even a cheapo like those which clamp onto canoes and kayaks would show anything rising above the bottom. I was out fishing over some of the tanks and so forth last year, using my GPS, but I know from past experience that you can be right on the coordinates and still not be right on the structure.............................. very frustrating!
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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The bay cones are in a circle about 100 yards across and can be good for free diving but fishing is hit or miss. Most of what I've seen are spadefish and black snapper. Most any structure in the bay will hold some grouper they are just usually to scattered to target them with a lot of success. The winter time would be the best when they move in shallower, a majority of the ones I've caught in the bay have come off the destin and midbay bridge and east pass jetties and have been undersized. They have hit everything from live pinfish to soft plastics for me. Good luck and let us know.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:55 AM   #7
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Again, thanks for the info. This is helpful stuff, and the best side of forums. I've been reading for years now that some better fish move inshore during the cooler months and would also like to take advantage of the sheepshead spawn. Sounds like we need to plan a trip down for March!

Those gags that my BIL caught really puzzle me; I know that a rattle trap doesn't run very deep and he was trolling with his Johnboat and 10 HP. Even at that I'd be surprised if the lure was getting to 10-12', and the water in the area he showed me is deeper than that by a good bit. All I can surmise is that he was in the right place at the right time!

I forgot to add that I'd be more than happy to share expenses with anyone looking for a fishing partner while I was down. I like fishing the tanks, rubble and such but it's a real PITA in a gas guzzling party barge, and of course the wind and wave conditions make that pretty iffy in said craft on most days at that time of year, mid/late September that is to say.

Last edited by sailmaker; 08-24-2012 at 11:04 AM.
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