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Daily fishing report
By ED WALKER
Published September 12, 2006
As the days get shorter and the nearshore waters of the gulf begin to cool, anglers from north Pinellas to Crystal River are preparing for the fall gag grouper season. Technically there is no "season" for grouper, but during the spring and fall the gags move in from distant offshore waters to feed along the shallow reefs and rock piles. Last year the fall grouper bite was nearly nonexistent south of Hernando Beach because of the effects of the 2005 Red Tide outbreak. Early indications this year suggest that things will be better.
Last week, a group of versatile anglers reported that although the grouper fishing had been slow in 15 to 20 feet of water off Tarpon Springs, diving on the same spots revealed good numbers of legal-sized gags that were simply not biting. John Peppe of Holiday saw "quite a few big grouper moving around the rocks, but the visibility was so poor I had no chance of getting one with my spear gun. It was good to know that some big grouper have returned to this area."
It is not uncommon for gags, which are usually in cool, deep water, to be reluctant to strike in water warmer than 80 degrees. Water darkened by the heavy summer rain runoff from the rivers and creeks also holds back the action. As fall approaches, the visibility will improve, and more suitable water temperatures should spark excellent grouper action in depths of 10 to 35 feet.