The rig consists of an egg sinker sliding on an 18-inch piece of 100-pound mono between two swivels. A 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leads to a circle hook, with the size depending on the bait.
Keep the sinker pinned against the bottom swivel and at the first sign of panic in the bait, let him swim away from the weight unencumbered. Johnson says he’d always prefer to hook his live spots, grunts, and pinkish behind the anal fin, but cautions that you have to consider the current.
Some bait shops may have pinkish you can buy, but we recommend going out a day before your grouper trip and catching some above bait fish to store in your live well. If you’re targeting a rock pile or wreck, anchor your boat up current and throw some old cut bait in the water.
A regular bottom fishing tackle setup is a great place to start. We like using a 6 to 7-foot long heavy action rod paired with a bottom-fishing reel and 50 lb test braided line.
Like we mentioned earlier, we usually fish for grouper off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, so these are the species you’ll most likely encounter there. Gag grouper are the most popular type of grouper to fish for in shallower waters and are abundant all over the Atlantic.
They are gray and brown and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage. Gag groupers will even hang in water only a few feet deep if there are structure and bait fish nearby.
Their massive size means you need to fish with an extra heavy-duty set up in order to stand a chance. One of the first mistakes amateur grouper fishermen make is keeping their drag at a normal level.
This is a big mistake when fishing for grouper due to their tendency to retreat back to rocky holes and tunnels after they take your bait. IF your drag is set high, it will be much harder for them to make it back to their rocky hideouts before you can reel them away.
Drifting allows you to cover more water and get your bait in front of more fish than if you anchor your boat. Since oftentimes the difference between catching a grouper and not is just finding them, drifting allows you to maximize your chances enticing them to bite.
As long as the current isn’t too strong and your lures aren’t down too deep, you should still be able to keep your live/dead bait right where you want it. Since they live at deeper depths than other sports fish, they still enjoy feeding when the surface bite is off.
This is why it’s always a good idea to have a bottom fishing reel and rod ready for off days. Just so you know, Track Fishing may earn an affiliate commission from the links on this page, at no extra cost to you.
If you want to engage in fast and intense fishing for grouper, you will need a six or seven-foot spinning rod coupled with a heavy reel. Although heavy reels are not required for inshore fishing with live bait rigs, they don’t hurt.
This will allow you to exert more strength and precision when it comes to extracting the grouper from its hiding places. Shaman TLD 2-Speed Conventional Reel is durable, sturdy, and remarkably powerful.
It offers exceptional lever drag, a unique feature that should be praised for numerous reasons. The Shaman TLD has a unique design that includes a solid graphite frame as well as a side plate with an aluminum spool.
Shift gears easily with the two-speed effect of this reel and know that it has a maximum drag of 42 lbs. With a quick retrieval rate and a line capacity that is far beyond what you could ever need or want, the Shaman TLD is one of the best grouper reels for you to consider.
Easy to maintain with smooth drag Durable and corrosion-resistant Has a low gear ratio A slight upgrade to the Penn Squall series, this reel is not only robust but it’s also durable.
The Penn Squall Level Wind is corrosion resistant as it is designed for saltwater. Lightweight and strong, this powerful conventional reel is perfect for grouper along with other bottom fish and predatory species.
You aren’t limited just to grouper when you use this reel, however, as it can also be used for other bottom fish or large species, too. Built with a solid aluminum frame, this reel is strong, and resists rust and corrosion.
The Penn US Senator also has the HT 100 drag system, providing you with all the fishing power you might need. It can easily land fish past 50 lbs, offering power and user-friendly design.
It has a power handle that is comfortable to use and easy to hold along with reversible harness lugs. It has a durable gear train and is machine framed, making it more resilient and perfectly aligned.
Known as the Saliva Lever Saltwater Reel, this product has six separate corrosion-resistant ball bearings. You won’t have to worry about replacing any ball bearings any time soon, even when you fish daily in saltwater.
It also has a machined aluminum frame and plate that make it super strong and resistant even to being dropped! It has a precision ratchet feature for anti-reverse and a gear ratio of 6.3:1 or 3.1:1, depending on which option you purchase.
Several sizes and gear ratios available Massive stainless steel cut for smooth winding and awesome power Corrosion-resistant bearings It performs well on fresh and saltwater, offering greater versatility and strength than some smaller models.
A highly capable reel, it can hold a ton of monofilament or braided line. This reel has a bail wire made out of heavy aluminum along with an oversized line roller, giving you excellent performance for long term use.
Comes with a manufacturer’s warranty Reduces bulk and maximizes efficiency Comes with a comfortable EVA handle This is because grouper like to live near the bottom close to underwater structures like rocks and wrecks.
The Your Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Trolling Lure is a great option when trolling for grouper (and other saltwater fish like Spanish mackerel) as it’s realistic 3D eyes mimic an actual bait fish’s eyes. The X-Rap has been a trolling favorite for years and works well for many species (like halibut, lake trout, and more) of fish besides just grouper.
These lures look and feel more like the fish grouper are used to eating, and are an excellent choice for trolling. The rubber tail’s action imitates a frantic bait fish trying to escape a hungry grouper.
The rubber tail flutters in the water at all speeds and mimics a scared shrimp or shad. Grouper love feeding on both small crustaceans/bait fish and find the Each Fat Swing Impact Rubber Shad irresistible.
If you aren’t getting any bites on your soft plastic lures or the diving plugs, we recommend trying out a fishing classic: metal spoons. Metal spoons imitate sardines, mackerel, and other small shiny fish that grouper like to eat.
These chrome-covered spoons have been catching many types of fish for years, including grouper. They have a simple action that when trolled with a down rigger looks like a small bait fish that has been separated from its school.
It has a more aggressive action than the Clark spoon which can entice reclusive grouper from where their hiding in underwater structure. The Huntington Stainless Steel Drone Spoon works for many saltwater species (such as smaller yellow fin tuna and bonito) along with grouper, so it’s a solid addition to any tackle box.
Now that you know what the best grouper trolling lures are, let’s discuss the typical kinds of grouper you’ll catch if you use them. Keep in mind that we typically fish for grouper in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, so these are the species common to those areas.
They are gray and brown and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage. Gag groupers will even hang in water only a few feet deep if there is structure and bait fish nearby.
You usually won’t catch Goliath groupers while trolling because they live in deeper waters and go after larger bait. While this can make figuring out where to fish for them easy, you need to be extra aware of your lure depth and how fast you’re trolling.
This might seem counter-intuitive when trolling, but you don’t want to give a hooked grouper any chance to swim back into the cover it darted out from. If it gets back to the hole it lives in, chances are your line will scrape against the rocks and snap.