Tampa It’s Gag Grouper Season! July 1-Sept. 16

Three GagsBy Mark Platau, Owner of Thunder Coast Custom Spearguns

I know you all are just as excited as I am about Gag Grouper season finally being open. Now is the perfect time to get out there and shoot some fish. In a few weeks, the Gag Grouper will start getting wise to the fact they are once again, on the chopping block. The water is not too warm for these fish yet. However, in the next couple of weeks a lot of the larger fish will be moving further offshore into deeper water where they are less likely to be bothered by those with hooks, lines or spears. Some fellow spearfishermen and I have come up with a few tips and tricks that can help you to increase your chances of landing some of these Gag Groupers now that they are in season.

1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm!

The first trick that can give you a competitive advantage over your buddies on the boat is to make sure you are the first one in the water. The best way to do this is to make sure all of your gear is set up before you get to the dive site. Given the option, I have my gear on before the boat is in neutral. I try to roll when the captain throws the jug if I get the chance. Ultimately, the first person on the bottom is the one most likely to get the grouper. Gags seem particularly sensitive to bubbles so as more divers enter the water, the more likely they are to leave that spot and cruise out into the sand. Freedivers have an advantage in this particular case, as they do not have to worry about bubbles as much as scuba divers. If you’re interested in learning more about our Freediver course with Performance Freediving International (PFI) instructor, Bill Van Deman, contact us at adventuretampa.com.

2. Invest in Your Equipment

The second trick is to make sure you have the right gear to land these fish. I am not saying it is impossible to land these fish with a pole spear, but there are some qualities of spearguns which make landing these fish easier. A longer speargun that gives you a few extra feet of range makes a huge difference when it comes to landing Gag Grouper. I prefer a speargun that has a minimum of fifteen foot of range when hunting these fish. To learn more about what spearfishing equipment you need, contact us at info@adventuretampa.com.

3. Look Beyond Your Visibility

The third trick is to always look to the edges of your visibility. This is a great trick for all spearfishing, but in my experience this habit is critical when hunting Gags. Fish have a number of senses that humans do not have which allows them to sense your presence in the water before you can see them usually. Gag Groupers tend to take advantage of these adaptations more than some other commonly hunted species like Hogfish and Mangrove Snapper. In order to have the best chance to land one of these elusive groupers it is important to keep attentive on your dive.

Good luck to all of you speros out there and always remember to stay safe! No fish is worth dying over – we can buy these things at the grocery store if we really need to.

To learn more about Gag Grouper season regulations, visit the Grouper page on the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission website.

Thunder Coast Custom Spearguns is a Custom Speargun and Diving Accessories Manufacturer and Distributor. For more information about Thunder Coast Custom Spearguns, getting your own custom gun or about any spearing equipment, contact us at info@adventuretampa.com.
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