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Scamp is considered the prize of all groupers because of the excellent flavor and texture of its delicate, white meat, and there is no better time to boat a few.
In the fall and winter scamp migrate close to shore and take cover around rocky bottom, ledges and wrecks. Pay attention to dips and mounds around hard bottom. Scamp start showing up in 45 feet of water and continue out to the Elbow. Scamp in shallow water tend to be smaller.
Scamp often are misidentified as small gag grouper. Take a close look at the tail to tell the difference. Scamp have elongated rays on the caudal fin, giving it a broomtail appearance.
Spin tackle in the 20-pound range is adequate when targeting these bottom huggers. Lead jigs without a leader are effective. Small strips of bonito or squid will sweeten your offering. Small scamp are pushovers for the gold-hook bait-catching rigs used for sardines and threadfins.
Because scamp are in the grouper family, they count toward your aggregate grouper bag limit. Check the regulations on size limits because they vary in state and federal waters.
Catching scamp is often a surprise when fishing for other groupers, such as gag or red. But with the right tackle, location and bait, your odds of catching a few will greatly increase.
-- Tom Turke charters The Mixed Bag out of St. Petersburg. Call (813) 854-5779.