Okay, I have to admit the name made me chuckle. Nevertheless, the All-American Grunt Hunt is a legitimate Tampa Bay area fishing tournament that not only offers a cool, family-friendly competition, but it also bespeaks a very important truth of saltwater fishing—there’s a lot of fish in the sea it's not just the headline species that deserve our attention, respect, effort—you know what I mean.
Brief background: In the Gulf of Mexico, offshore fishing charters that don't fare so well often are called "glorified grunt hunts." The implication is that you could only catch grunts—rather than grouper, snapper and the sexier species.
But hold on just a minute. If you've ever eaten fried, baked, broiled or grilled grunt fillets you most certainly asked for seconds. I know I have.
Serve them side by side with mangrove snapper and a lot of folks will not be able to distinguish.
And, if you've ever gotten the big grunts fired up—not exactly challenging—you know that a sporty tussle is an every drop kinda deal.
So, abundant fish, good fight, tasty on the dinner plate—um, problems?
I see none.
What I see is a great example of how open-minded fishing—the kind that considers all the options—can enhance good trips and salvage the slower ones.
It's not just grunts. Ladyfish and jack crevalle have saved many inshore trips when chilly, windy or otherwise inclement conditions have the snook, trout and redfish pouting.
Offshore, triggerfish, porgies and even some less-publicized snappers like lanes and vermilions join grunts on the list of willing and worthy participants.
1. They take the pressure off high-demand species.
2. They offer less challenging targets whose cooperative nature bodes well when teaching kids and other beginners. (Lots of action typically trumps long waits for one rock star catch.)
3. They help justify fuel bills when top-shelf game fish are out of season.
4. They give you sporty alternatives when the big-namers play hard-to-get.
So, no one's suggesting we diss those upper-tier species upon which much of sport's interest is based. Just give the B-team a shot now and then and you might be pleasantly surprised how often they'll knock it out of the park.