Regardless of what you're hoping to catch, tailoring the bait to the type of fish is common sense. Grouper also prefer large live bait fish, but they tend to be less picky than RedS napper.
You can opt for either frozen or fresh fish purchased from your local bait shop. These fish flit through the water quickly, easily attracting a predator's attention, plus they're shiny and oily, making them even more visible.
Other options include squid, blue runner, mullet, pinkish, and grunts. Drop your baits (ideally cigar minnows or pilchards for red snappers or sardines for groupers) down deep into the water column.
Many of the trophy sized fish are in holes and covered areas where they tend to rest and stay safe from other predators. The more robust currents demand larger tackle in order to get down to the bottom.
Also, make sure that you have to hooked your live bait securely; it can be a long way down and you do not want them coming off. If you fail to do so, your live bait may come loose on a heavy current.
RedS napper love this and tend to strike the bait before it even hits the bottom. Simply cut a strip of Bonito (we leave the skin on), attach with both hooks on your double Snell rig and slowly drop the bait to the bottom.
Vertical jigs, in particular, can trick the fish, which confuse the shiny objects with an easy bite. Diving plugs are ideal for groupers if you're fishing in reef areas, allowing for deep trolling at depths of 20 to 40 feet.
Finally, you can try a butterfly jig, a thin but heavy lure that moves erratically in the water. This movement mimics a real fish as the lure free falls through the water.
Jigging requires you to snap or pop the rod tip as you move the lure up and down in the water column. This guide gives you the tips and tricks you need to enjoy a successful day on the boat.
Note that the state and federal legislation may govern when fishing is permitted. Generally, Southern California, the Gulf of Mexico and around Florida are great places to fish for grouper and red snapper.
Isolated areas are also preferable and the Florida Gulf Coast is a great location. Red grouper are beautiful fish that can weight very heavy on the hook, even when caught in smaller sizes.
They’re tough predators, can put quite a fight and can provide the angler with a lot of thrills. They prefer muddy and rocky bottoms, but can be caught in a variety of habitats such as open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, coral reefs, rocky shores, sandy shores, estuaries waters, intertidal flats, intertidal marshes, coastal saline lagoons, coastal freshwater lagoons, and karts.
In colder months they move back inshore, and sometimes you can get big ones in water as shallow as 20 ft. Like most predator fish that feed close to the bottom, when a red grouper grabs the bait and feels resistance, it will try to run to the nearest hiding place.
However, they are also interested in lures, and catching them with jigs and jerk baits in shallower water can be very entertaining. A red grouper will basically gulp any fish passing by, if it looks appetizing and it can fit in its mouth.
Make sure though that you hook them by the dorsal fin or their lower jaw, to live longer. Cutting bigger bait fish in half at a 45° angle seems to have quite a great effect on the presentation, resulting in more bites.
If you want to catch red grouper with lures, best jerk baits and jigs are always a good call. Some lures to try out are Your Minnows, Mirror Deep Divers (red, orange and black silver), Salas Jigs in Green / Blue Sardine, or squid imitating jigs such as the ones from Charities.
Shakespeare makes quite a few Ugly Sticks for this purpose, with an OK price / quality ratio. So, equip your rod with a 4/0 Penn Senator or Abu Garcia Seascape bait casting reel.
It’s always best to go with braided line for groupers, because it gives you a better control of the fish right away, as it doesn’t stretch. Depending on the bait used, depth and fish size targeted, your line can be between 40-60lb.