Seas: 1-2 feet
Winds: 5-10 SSE
Temp: 85 F
Viz: 10 feet
Today wasn't very different with respect to the conditions over the past week. We have had picture perfect weather with completely clear skies, literally next to no wind whatsoever (5-10mph) and virtually calm seas over the past week. But unfortunately as perfect as the weather has been is exactly how bad the water conditions have been as well. It has been a very laborious week because the viz has been so limited. Having to dive to the bottom just to see what is there and subsequently having to chase any fish you may see that is worth shooting is a process that can really take it out of you by the end of a day.
Luckily today, we hit one of our traditional grouper ledges before high slack to see if we could finally land another grouper (seeing as we have only landed one all week). We started our drift about 200 feet away from the ledge when my buddy says he chased a grouper that he could not catch up to and he thought it had headed in the direction of our target ledge. We arrived at the ledge and I dove down to inspect the open areas to see if anything was sitting out in the open. I was only able to observe a decent size hogfish hovering by the ledge, but decided to leave it alone since my target really was a grouper.
I descended to the ledge with the flashlight in hand to see if I was actually going to be able to see anything since this ledge is usually inhabited by two (2) goliath grouper in addition to any blacks that may be co-residing with them. To my surprise, when I peered under the ledge with the flashlight, I saw no goliath grouper, but something did stir up the hole before I was able to get a completely identifying look at it. I was hoping it would be a black and not the typical goliath that hangs in and around this ledge. After waiting some time for the dirt to settle, I looked under the ledge once again to clearly see that there were no goliaths inhabiting the ledge. But I couldn't get sight of the black I was hoping for either. I kept scouring the ledge to see if I had overlooked any spots when I remembered there was a small opening along this ledge that opened up in the back big enough to house some sizable groupers we had landed here before. I shined the light into this hole to see that it was considerably stirred up so I was hopeful the black was sitting in this hole as it was not big enough to hold some of the goliaths that frequent this ledge.
Being patient and waiting once again for the hole to clear up a little, I looked once again with the light and this time I was able to make out the tail and pectoral fins of a black grouper along the far wall of this hole. Upon seeing this, I was determined to land this fish as even the limited view I had of the girth of this fish was enough to demonstrate she was legal. I lined up the flashlight to shine on the area I believed the head was and went back to the surface for another breath. Upon my next descent I inserted my gun into the hole pointing it in the direction of the shining light.
Just as I was about to pull the trigger, I saw the tail move and knew the fish had moved possibly out of line with my gun, but I had already made the subconscious decision to pull the trigger. Thinking I had missed my mark, I reach in the retrieve my shaft when to my surprise, I get considerable resistance to retrieving my equipment. Lo and behold, I not only didn't miss, but I was able to pull off a shot that nearly hit the lateral line and the grouper came out of the hole with only a minimal struggle. I was happy to see that I hadn't misjudged the size of the fish and raised my recently rare quarry to the boat with more than a little jubilation. It's nice to get a larger fish every once in a while when we seem to be stuck in a rut with a species or as a result of the conditions as we have been recently. Either way, I was happy my persistence paid off.