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Old 06-06-2016, 07:36 PM   #1
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Default First Week of Gag & ARS Season

First Week of Gag & ARS Seaon

For the first time in years both American red snapper and gag grouper season will open June first. The Florida Fisherman ll, Hubbard's Marina, will be leaving on a 39 hour Middle Grounds and vicinity trip Tuesday, May 31, in search of American reds, gags, and a lot more. Providing pictures for this highly anticipated trip will be the fine folks at 'Head First Fishing.'
We are ready, let's go!
The before dawn Wednesday morning bite was strong. Look at the size of those mangrove snapper:







What an honor having ladies on the Florida:



One more gag before the sun comes up:

We have been waiting a long time for this:








We may not be able to keep AJ's, but they sure are fun to catch:

Did you know that vermilion (beeliner) snapper can be caught in waters from a little over 100 feet to almost 1,000? Talk about good eating, they are GREAT!


The deep water kings run big:


Huge mangrove snapper are a real prize night or day:

Guys, I will be the first to admit...I do not know what kind of fish this is. HELP!

Thanks Head First Fishing. The pictures are great and really appreciated.
OK! My turn. Friday, June 3. Let's go get 'um!
Now that looks good:


Mr. John Martin is the resident fishing advisor on the extended Florida Fisherman ll trips. Guys, I have know many excellent fishermen in my 50+ years of offshore fishing. John Martin is as good as they come. How much is John appreciated on the Florida? Take a look:
"Two high lights of the night for me came first when I worked with a whole family (husband, wife and son) that were fishing together and had never done this type trip before. After about 10 minutes of work they began to catch Mangos. By sun up they had about 20 nice Goozers between them along with some Porgies and a nice Scamp. They were here on vacation and were so happy that when they saw me Friday afternoon they shouted at me from across the street, crossed over and thanked me for my help"
'High lights' number two:
"The second experience happened as I was walking around checking with people when a gentleman stopped me and said “I hear you are the Gag slayer” I told him well I’ve caught a few. He asked me if I’d show him so I started giving him some pointers. He said no show me by catching one. I went and got my rod and as big of a Threadfin I could find. As I dropped it down I said Gags bite better during the day so no promises. After what seemed like 5 minutes Bang! I kid you not I reeled up a Gag in the 20 LB. range. The guy was speechless but was very happy when I said here’s your first now the next three are on you. Thank you fish Gods =) " Mr. John Martin
THONAS J. RYAN likes this.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:37 PM   #2
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John teaches and leads by example:

Let's catch a few more mangos before the sun comes up:

I love hunting every bit as much as fishing. As with fishing, I demand only the best. My late wife, Thelma, and I were members of Buck & Boar Hunting Club for twenty years. Family owned and operated B&B was, and still is, the best of the best. The Todd family originated and still runs this premier hunting club. It was a real honor to welcome son, 'Little Bill' Todd, on the Florida this weekend.

Talk about shows, Little Bill put on one few will ever forget. Bill wanted a nice gag grouper so bad he could taste it. Finally! An opportunity. Oh No! Half way through the fight Bill's trusty rod breaks. This is going to require a total team effort:

Bill pulls the mighty fish in, inch by inch, by hand; Captain Garett reels in the loose line; Will is on gaff duty. Finally! color. Just as Will 'attempts' to gaff the large gag, the line breaks; barotrauma brings Bill's trophy to the surface; it floats away. Instantly Captain Garett makes an accurate cast hooks the large grouper and reels it in. Will gaffs the beautiful gag. Talk about total team effort. (watch Little Bill's great fight 4:02 minutes into the video at the end of this report:

Wow! talk about a big smile. There is one happy camper:

Once again, Mr. John Martin leads by example. What a welcome edition to our total fishing experience. Want to learn from the master? John is always more than willing to help in any way he can:


We learned our lesson well:






Now there is a sight to behold:

Looks like the 'toothy' critters are hungry also.
Nice king:

Nice Wahoo:

Now there is a scamp anyone would be proud of:

Look at the color on that red grouper:

And we thought the vermilion snapper we saw earlier were big:

The mangrove snapper are getting even bigger. No! That's not a cubera:

The 'First Week of Gag & ARS Season' has really been great. Unfortunately ARS season is, once again this year, short, but we can keep gags for the rest of the year.
Late Saturday evening. The heavens are on fire:


After a 'Jersey Girl' Tammy seasoned to perfection center cut pork chop dinner it's time to hit the bunks:
Hold on! One more great fight before bed time. As he so often does, Mr. Eddie Sumrall is at it again. Watch the great tuna fight 8:40 minutes into the video:

Take us home Captain John. Next stop Madeira Beach, Florida.
Now that was one quick, comfortable, night. Here goes the smiles again:

Let's check on the 'in the money' jack pot winners and head home:

Be sure to check out the short, action packed, video of our trip:

https://youtu.be/TPhXVQhV7sU

Thanks again to Head First Fishing for providing such excellent pictures of the Tuesday 39 hour first day of ARS & Gag season opener.
Bob Harbison Florida Outdoor Writers Association
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:19 PM   #3
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Absolute beatdown on the fish!!!
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:25 PM   #4
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That looks like a scamp or maybe a yellow mouth grouper to me.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:26 PM   #5
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Great catch.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:22 AM   #6
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Thanks! What an honor sharing with our North Florida friends.
I am familiar with both scamp & yellow mouth grouper. I do not believe this fish is either. I will ask my FWC biologist friends & share what they have to say.
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:17 AM   #7
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Just curious Bob, what makes you think that this isn't a scamp? I'm interested to see what the biologist says!

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Old 06-07-2016, 12:07 PM   #8
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Good Question! Thanks for asking.
To me the mystery fish is awfully dark for a scamp. I was not on that trip; someone else took the picture.
However, here is what the biology department of the FWC says:
"This looks like a scamp to me unfortunately we cant see the complete tail or the branchiostegal rays so positively distinguishing it that way from from a yellowmouth is hard to do. The scamp usually has a pointed anal fin and that is also missing."
I took this picture of a scamp last weekend:



Scamp and yellowmouth look very similar. However, the tails are different. We catch scamp often on both the Middle Grounds & Elbow. Seldom do we see a yellowmouth.
To me the coloration is more like a black grouper:
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:23 PM   #9
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I agree that it's a bit darker than most scamp I've seen, but the pattern on it isn't a true box like that of a black grouper.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:45 PM   #10
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FWC agrees: "Coloration of the fish can vary quite a bit depending on the bottom they are fished on. Black grouper do not have yellow on them and the spots are different colors ( more reddish) and they have marbled blotches on them. The tails are also different"

These guys are experts. They are calling it a scamp.
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