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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Outdoors: Fishin’ with the Gov

His dad, captain Scott Moore, was fishing guide to three governors, so maybe it comes naturally.

But captain Justin Moore, 33, admitted he was a bit nervous when Florida’s governor stepped on his boat ready to go fishing a few weeks back.

Gov. Rick Scott took three hours out of his schedule on Oct. 12 to join friends Carol and Barney Barnett aboard Moore’s boat. And the young skipper — who already has built a national name for himself by catching and releasing on video a tarpon of more than 300 pounds this summer — managed to find plenty of fish for the anglers despite the short time frame.

“First we went off the beaches and put some Spanish and kings in the boat, and then I found out he had never caught a snook, so we ran back into the Tidy Island area and put out some sardines, and before long he had caught several,” Moore said. “He also seemed to enjoy seeing the bird life back in there, particularly the white pelicans.”

Moore said being followed around by a couple of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boats loaded with law enforcement officers was a bit daunting at first. However, as soon as he started fishing, it was like most other days on the water as he concentrated on putting fish in the boat.

“I guess he enjoyed himself,” Moore said of Scott. “He said he’s coming back for a full day in the spring.”

Moore had encouraging words for local anglers, as well.

“We’re in prime time in this area right now with the cool-down,” he said. “All the bait is here, all the migrating fish are here, and the snook and reds and trout are on fire inside.

“It’s just a great time to be on the water.”

Moore said he is seeing enormous schools of threadfins and other bait off the beaches, spanning football fields and 30 feet deep. Spanish, kings, bonito, spinner sharks, jacks and a bit of everything else seem to be running with the bait.

“If you get out there on a calm day with the sun up high, you can see just acres of black water,” Moore said. “That black color is caused by the bait swarms. It’s amazing how much of it there is right now.”

In inside waters, Moore said he has been encouraged to see good numbers of 2- to 3-year-old snook showing up throughout the lower Tampa Bay/Sarasota Bay area this year, an indication that the three years of closure did some good in helping the species recover from the 2010 cold-kill.

“Even then, I’m not encouraging my customers to keep snook,” Moore said. “We limit it to two per trip, no matter how many anglers are aboard. If they want fish to eat, we go catch some gag grouper.”

He said there’s no need to head far offshore to put some 30-inch gags in the boat.

“There are a lot of really nice grouper around the channels and on wrecks and rocks inside the larger bays and just off the beaches,” Moore said. “You have to know where they are and how to get them to bite, but they’re there.”

He said his anglers use heavy spinning tackle loaded with 65-pound-test Power-Pro braid, 80-pound-test leaders, and jumbo live threadfins to lure the fat reef fish to their hooks.

“A big grouper in shallow water is a whole different critter from offshore,” Moore said. “Most people can’t believe how strong they are. You need every bit of that 65-pound-test no-stretch line to pull them away from the cover, and you lose a lot of them anyway.”

For more on fishing from Justin Moore, visit www.moorefishing.com.

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