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Old 08-25-2017, 08:09 PM   #1
CuzzA
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Gags on Scuba...

Maybe it's because at 24"+ and being prayed upon in the past they are a little older and wiser, but man I can't for the life of me get one on the stringer. It's not even an issue of closing the gap. Hell, most of the time there's no gap to close, they are gone.

Even today, in really poor viz just calmly cruising along a ledge as soon as we see each other they bolt, never to be seen again. Not even a leisure swim away, nope, they are flying out of dodge like they just saw the grim reaper, which I guess is true, but it's a frickin' fish.

What gives? Typical? Get used to it? I recall when I first started diving they would give you a brief window to take a shot, but now it seems I don't have a split second to line 'em up.

The only thing I can come up with is my Shark Shield is actually having an effect on them.

Any advise would be appreciated... and yes I know, free diving is a solution, but I love the hour long dives.

Last edited by CuzzA; 08-25-2017 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 08-25-2017, 08:30 PM   #2
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Same thing for me today and I never had my Shark Shield on.
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Old 08-25-2017, 08:57 PM   #3
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Well I guess that rules that out.
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Old 08-25-2017, 09:39 PM   #4
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Hot water fish are quicker.
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Old 08-25-2017, 09:55 PM   #5
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

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Hot water fish are quicker.
That's a good point, Gene. I've had most of my success with them in the latter part of the year when the season is still open, but the water has cooled down.
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Old 08-25-2017, 10:10 PM   #6
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Bigger fish are usually smarter, but are you sure that you are not "hunting" more aggressively? Were you shooting "easy" little fish more in the past and now are targeting gags?

Gags are skittish, but they can also be curious. Possibly slowing down more? Gags are often around and you are not really seeing them - because they are too smart. If you stop and shoot a porgy or snapper or a lionfish, sometimes the gags will notice the activity and begin to creep in and try to see what is happening.

Also they depend on each other (and other fish) to signal danger. If there are many gags around, even small ones, then the larger gags will tend to be calmer.

Don't underestimate the importance of people shooting and hunting gags in the area recently. They can and do learn.

I don't have any thing too concrete, but stalking gags is definitely challenging.
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Old 08-25-2017, 10:29 PM   #7
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

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Originally Posted by jfjf View Post
Bigger fish are usually smarter, but are you sure that you are not "hunting" more aggressively? Were you shooting "easy" little fish more in the past and now are targeting gags?

Gags are skittish, but they can also be curious. Possibly slowing down more? Gags are often around and you are not really seeing them - because they are too smart. If you stop and shoot a porgy or snapper or a lionfish, sometimes the gags will notice the activity and begin to creep in and try to see what is happening.

Also they depend on each other (and other fish) to signal danger. If there are many gags around, even small ones, then the larger gags will tend to be calmer.

Don't underestimate the importance of people shooting and hunting gags in the area recently. They can and do learn.

I don't have any thing too concrete, but stalking gags is definitely challenging.
I don't think I'm more aggressive, in fact, if anything I'm much more comfortable and calm in the water than when I started a few years ago, but perhaps that comfort level is translating into more aggressive hunting? Hard to say. I know the correct techniques, but maybe I'm not applying them like I should.

I've always targeted the mix bag of fish, including gags, but of course with the size increase on gags I've been careful to make sure I'm only targeting legal fish. Which are in the 24-34" range.

This year I haven't experienced any curiosity, they just bolt immediately. We have tons of skittish Mangrove Snappers and I don't doubt they are tipping off the gags when I approach. I know there's quite a few divers that are diving the areas we typically hit, so it's very possible the fish know the deal.

They are indeed challenging. Maybe I need to do a little less swimming and see if they'll come to me. I don't know.
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:38 AM   #8
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Sounds kinda dumb but I would lie on the bottom near a gag lair and scratch a rock and fan a little dirt in the water. When they slowly stick their head out I would fastly stick them. This trick gets the attention of other dwellers also. And way less air usage.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:09 AM   #9
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Swimming makes you appear as a predator ,do it as little as possible and as low as possible.And slowly.
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:58 PM   #10
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

There are a couple different approaches with gags you can take. A lot of guys like stated above like to lay still and wait or put your stringer with a couple fish out and let the gags come investigate. This definitely works sometimes and I use it when they are curious. Always have a light and investigate any hole or crack you think a gag could squeeze into sideways .If you see big mangs going in and out a lot of times they will show you the gags hole. They will hole up before you ever see them a lot of times. Another option that I use a lot for pressured shallow water gags 35-70 ft is kinda a freedive approach on scuba. I will swim 25 feet off the bottom and stay above the gags lateral line then drop down a little or just extend my gun and shoot from there. You have to have a gun that will sling a shaft pretty far for this approach but it works great on skiddish gags. They do not see you as much of threat way above them. A lot of times if you see a gag running if you can raise up higher in the column while chasing him he will slow down and let you get closer to take a shot. Also breathing out bubbles really scares them quite a bit. If you are not getting many gags try doing more drops maybe 15-20 min dives instead 1 hour. That way you hit more spots and have more opportunities at more fish.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:47 AM   #11
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Thanks for the replies. There's no doubt I try to cover some ground and though I swim calmly I can see this being viewed as predatory.

I never put my stringer down either, because I don't want to get robbed by a shark or Goliath, but I will start trying some different things you guys have suggested.

Friday wouldn't have been the best day to lay the stringer down though. Man vis is crap right now.

This is a shot of hog I landed. Can't even see it. Lost a shaft too.

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Old 08-27-2017, 11:33 AM   #12
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zackistre View Post
There are a couple different approaches with gags you can take. A lot of guys like stated above like to lay still and wait or put your stringer with a couple fish out and let the gags come investigate. This definitely works sometimes and I use it when they are curious. Always have a light and investigate any hole or crack you think a gag could squeeze into sideways .If you see big mangs going in and out a lot of times they will show you the gags hole. They will hole up before you ever see them a lot of times. Another option that I use a lot for pressured shallow water gags 35-70 ft is kinda a freedive approach on scuba. I will swim 25 feet off the bottom and stay above the gags lateral line then drop down a little or just extend my gun and shoot from there. You have to have a gun that will sling a shaft pretty far for this approach but it works great on skiddish gags. They do not see you as much of threat way above them. A lot of times if you see a gag running if you can raise up higher in the column while chasing him he will slow down and let you get closer to take a shot. Also breathing out bubbles really scares them quite a bit. If you are not getting many gags try doing more drops maybe 15-20 min dives instead 1 hour. That way you hit more spots and have more opportunities at more fish.
Great advice, Zack. Most of my gags have been taken at the beginning of my dive as I'm descending. "Death from above" I call it. James is correct as well about the viz - ack, it was bad. Hoping this blow right now will finally clear some crap out of here.

BTW, Zack - email me and let's try to get together again for some diving, either down here or up there - I'm wanting to do more diving in Hernando and Citrus if possible.
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:36 PM   #13
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Increase in bull shark population may have something to do with it.
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:55 PM   #14
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

They are smart as cats from what I understand and have proven such to me. Act like a predator and they'll bolt. Act uninterested, smash up some shelled critters on the bottom, throw some sand around and you'll gain their curiosity. Of course, avoid predator eye contact.
Go in like a predator and they'll surely key in on it and bug out. Most of them are out in the sand off the reef watching you. They are the watchfish.
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Old 08-27-2017, 02:20 PM   #15
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Re: Gags on Scuba...

Marcus is correct we shoot a lot of our gags in the sand 20-75 feet off the structure. A lot of times they blend right in and will bolt if your not above their lateral line.
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