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.
I can still remember the high-pitched noise as line played out and deckhands came running to help Grams as he struggled to land a 321-pound goliathgrouper. The battle lasted nearly an hour, and for the retired bank messenger who had moved from Cleveland to Siesta Key, it was the catch of a lifetime.
Three or four irregular faint vertical bars are present of the sides of individuals less than 3 feet in length. The rear half of the caudal peduncle of these small individuals is covered by another similar bar.
The juveniles inhabit mangroves and brackish estuaries, especially near oyster bars. This fish is solitary by nature, with the adults occupying limited home ranges.
Goliath groupers are territorial in areas of refuge such as caves, wrecks, and ledges. As a warning to intruders, the Goliath grouper will display an open mouth and even create an audible rumbling sound from their swim bladder.
Goliath grouper feed largely on crustaceans– spiny lobsters, shrimps and crabs, and fish including stingrays, parrot fish, octopus, and young sea turtles. Though they have sharp teeth that are adapted for seizing and preventing escape, the meal is usually simply engulfed and swallowed whole.
The Key West Aquarium is part of the Historic Tours of America® newsletter. Fish buster Charters’ Captain Dave Hanson reported,”Monday, 4/28, I fished a full day offshore with Bob Donelson, Kent McCarthy, Chuck Babcock, and Skip Hamilton.
We also wrestled with a big shark for a while, but it had bitten on one of the smaller rods, and eventually broke the line before we identified its type. The guys also released three 27-inch king mackerel, five yellowtail snapper to 13 inches, and white bone porgies, along with a dozen red grouper shorts.
Angler Clement Wong with a 22-inch black drum caught on a shrimp in Estero Bay on a recent inshore Fish buster Charter. He and Eddie Alfonso headed out twenty miles from New Pass with me to fish for grouper and snapper.
We added to the fish box ten yellowtail snappers to 15 inches, some white bone porgies and grunts. I fished inshore Wednesday morning with Bob and Jo-Ellen Ex by on a catch-and-release trip that yielded ten stingrays, five mangrove snapper to 11 inches and an18-inch shook, all caught on shrimp and released.
Thursday morning, 5/1, frequent customer, Scott Save raid, and friends, Brian Betting, Tim Chen, and Ron Wesley, hoped to have fun battling some big fish. We set out for goliathgrouper catch-and-release fun, but the two-foot seas NOAA had predicted were actually four-to-five foot seas, mostly fives, with a steady 25 mph wind, and all the Goliath spots we could access, which had recently supplied fun battles for several recent customers, yielded no Goliath bites at all.
All was not lost though, since a rig baited with a blue runner and crevasse jack, intended for a goliathgrouper, brought us a nine-foot tiger shark, which Brian battled for 45 minutes before getting it to the surface and releasing it. The guys also released a 28-inch cobra, a dozen blue runners, a couple of crevasse jacks, and four mangrove snapper shorts.
We're glad that federal regulators have hit the pause button before requiring the removal of some 600 abandoned oil and gas rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll let the Chronicle's Matt Treasure paint the picture: “low the surface, clams, corals and sponges cling to the platform legs, while goliathgrouper and red snapper swim around the steel crossbeams” (“Rigs abandoned by man may be key to boosting Gulf fish,” Page A1, July 20).
Whether all 600 inactive platforms should stay is a matter yet to be decided; but it seems apparent that some if not many deserve to be preserved and developed as reefs in sandy, silty waters where not many of these assets occur naturally. The major question appears to be whether the presence of the rigs creates additional aquatic resources; or is simply drawing creatures that would otherwise thrive in natural habitat.
The outcome matters from Florida's coast in the eastern Gulf to Texas waters on the west. Groupers are one of many prized fish that we can catch along all coasts of Florida and the Bahamas.
Groupers are a firm, white meat fish that makes a spectacular onion-garlic sauté for your dinner table. Grouper are aggressive strikers, so right when they inhale the bait, they will normally go right into the rocks or structure that is surrounding them.
NOTE: GoliathGrouper, formerly known as Jewish, are totally protected from harvest in Florida waters. The bottom structure that you're near tends to pull them in closer, housing a variety of species of fish, including tons of bait.
You will find that most baits that live primarily on the bottom will not be suitable for trolling, but will be good for bottom fishing or even mid-water fishing if the boat is at anchor or drifting slowly. Sand perch are also good bait when filleted or steamed and used as chunks.
Sardines and live pinkish are good grouper bait and can be purchased on the dock before sailing each morning. Keep an eye out for birds sitting in the water because they're on top of the bait, and all you have to do is wait a few minutes for Mr. Grouper.
Grouper are aggressive strikers, so right when they inhale the bait, they will normally go right into the rocks or structure that is surrounding them. In the winter and early spring, black grouper and red grouper make their way up from deeper water to the relative shallows of near shore patch reefs to spawn.
Some patches climb almost vertically, and all have holes and caves serving as home to a variety of fish, including our groupers. What you want to do is see which way the tide is moving and go to the side where your bait will go away from the pier or boat, find a good rock pile, and just keep letting line out until you know your bait is right in front of our groupers' dinner table.
The majority of the time if there are grouper on the structure where you are, you will have a hook up fairly quickly. So trolling their dinner behind the boat will be our way of catching & hooking up these fish.
When a fish hits, Let go of the line, count to five, snap the bail closed, and start cranking. You don't want to get a 40 lb fish back to the boat until he's quieted down a bit.