Max limit for 2 from 17 ft skiff using the leader rig shown below. But a problem with grouper fishing (and targeting other species when bottom fishing) is that many anglers don’t put much thought into making their leaders… They simply get a weight, a hook, some line, and perhaps a swivel or two and start tying their favorite knot for all the connections.
And a majority of the time, that lack of thinking about all aspects of what they’re targeting leaves the following two problems: The weakest point in the overall system (most often at the knot that connects the lighter main line to the top of the heavier leader assembly) is up above the weight.
And since grouper are structure oriented, the odds of them getting stuck to the bottom due to the weight getting snagged are high which will make them easy targets to the next shark that cruises by. Knowing that grouper and most other bottom fish seek comfort in structure when the feel threatened, we need to account for the fact that there will be break-offs in our decision for how we make our leader assemblies.
When targeting strong fish that live in and around heavy cover, the likelihood of getting snagged on the bottom is high. So my preference is to set up the overall line system to have the weakest point be the knot that goes directly to the hook while also beefing up the line most exposed to getting weakened from bumping rough patches on the bottom (directly above the weight).
The Orris knot is my preferred choice to tie to the Perfection loop because it’s extremely fast to tie and is very strong (not quite as strong as the Palomar, but it’s stronger than any Loop knot I’ve tested so it’ll not be the weakest link). Note: Different line brands/types of course have different breaking points, so these values are just to serve as a rough estimate.
Grouper fishing is a fantastic way for a group of friends or a family to get out on the water and enjoy nature together… And given their popularity, we need to pay extra attention to take the best possible care of them so our future generations can continue to enjoy this great game fish as well as other structure oriented species that also be harmed by poorly designed leader rigs.
By the end of this article, you’ll be extra prepared for your next grouper fishing trip. As with most predatory fish, using live bait for grouper will be your best bet as long as local regulations allow.
If you’re targeting a rock pile or wreck, anchor your boat up current and throw some old cut bait in the water. This technique works great for both bottom fishing and spearfish, as long as you have a solid pair of free diving fins.
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.
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 setup 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.
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.
Grouper put up a great fight and taste delicious if you prepare them correctly. Now that you know what the proper grouper bait is and how to fish it, you’ll be prepared next time you get out on the water.
I try to up my odds of landing grouper by building leaders that can withstand the line-gnawing reefs. My grouper rig is simple; it consists of a 6 to an 8-foot-long leader of 300-pound-test monofilament with a 9/0 to 11/0 circle hook.
All swivels and the hooks are attached to the line using 1.9 mm crimp sleeves. Slide your weight onto the line, and then attach the opposite end to the swivel on the long leader.
A fighting rod of 5’8” or longer, rated for line up to 200-pound test will do in most cases. My reel of choice is the Shaman Thorium 30HG spooled with 65-pound-test braided line.
The 6.2:1 gear ratio makes it fast and powerful enough to move big grouper in a hurry. The goal is to keep them out of the reef, but if they do get back to their hole, you’re prepared with a leader that can survive the fight.
When I hooked the gag grouper in this picture, he immediately ran back into his hole in the reef. Randy Not is the co-publisher of Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine’s Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition.
Just so you know, Track Fishing may earn an affiliate commission from the links on this page, at no extra cost to you. Often considered a classic bottom fish, grouper is one of the most popular species to go after for beginners and experienced anglers alike.
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.
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.
Corrosion-resistant and perfect for saltwater use Has a large spool capacity A versatile and strong reel 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. You can add a backlight side plate, for instance, to make it perfect for commercial use.
Great for hobby or commercial use Excellent for saltwater use Has six stainless steel bearings Known as the Saliva Lever Saltwater Reel, this product has six separate corrosion-resistant ball 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.