Or the anglers’ battle trying to pull the grouper up before it gets to the structure puts more pressure on the line than the weakest point can handle (typically the very top not), leaving the anglers with just a bare end of the main line and the grouper with an entire leader stuck to them… 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.
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.
“Sometimes it’s hard to grouper fish with Mali swimming around your boat, but our stretch of offshore reefs can give up some really quality gags and scamps this time of year, particularly on spots deeper than 120 feet,” he said. 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. “If I’m fishing for gags, my favorite bait is a live golden spot or a pinkish,” said Johnson.
Johnson prefers the slip sinker rig, because fooling big grouper is all about presentation. 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. How to build three proven rigs for taking grouper, snapper and other bottom species.
Consistent success demands precise anchoring or drifting tactics, specialized rigs, a strong back and plenty of elbow grease, not to mention a little of luck. Should all of these elements fall into place, you'll find yourself muscling big fish out of the depths and into your cooler.
For many fishermen, the main selling point of fluorocarbon is that the material is simply less visible than traditional nylon monofilament. Fluorocarbon is also much stiffer and more abrasion resistant than nylon mono of the same breaking strength.
Therefore, in murky water, where leader visibility isn't a concern, fluorocarbon still offers an advantage that justifies its expense. If you're hunting monsters, make sure your entire terminal system can handle the strain.
For groupers and amber jack, I'll use a large, double-strength, short-shank hook in a size ranging from 8/0 to 11/0, one with a relatively wide gap if I'm dropping big live baits. Although there are numerous variations when it comes to bottom rigs, outlined on the following pages are three highly effective versions that will fool more big snappers, groupers, amber jack and cobra around reefs, wrecks and other structure.
The weight, usually a bank sinker, is connected to the third eye of the swivel via several inches of lighter line. This rig boasts many of the same advantages as the in-line version when using a long leader, plus the heavy sinker won't chafe the fishing line.
Furthermore, should the rig snag on the bottom, it can usually be freed by locking down the drag and winding tight until the lighter line holding the sinker parts. However, the short leader provides hardly any slack for a fish to dive back into the structure before or at the moment the hook is set.
Then I tie on six feet of 40- or 50-pound fluorocarbon and a 5/0 to 8/0 circle hook, based on the bait I'm using and size of the fish. It's also productive when fishing the bottom well up current of a wreck or reef. The long leader allows a live bait to swim relatively unrestricted, or a dead one to float more naturally in the current.
As the in-line egg sinker rests on bottom, the bait flutters enticingly above it some 15 to 25 feet back. Should a suspicious fish peck at the bait, the play in the long leader usually prevents it from detecting any resistance.
Modify this for flounder fishing with a Rocky Brook Sinker (www.rockybrooksinkers.com) made of actual limestone that’s cut, sanded smooth and fitted with a swivel. These are highly effective for walking, dragging or hopping across uneven bottom that ensnare jigs of more slender profile.
From jetty perimeters, to limestone outcroppings, to the underside of piers, football heads allow for more targeted casting and controlled movement in shaggy habitat. Slip a soft-plastic stick bait or a light finesse worm on the hook and the rig looks like an eel or small fish rummaging across the bottom.
But don’t stop your retrieve at the rocks’ edge; let your swim bait fall to the sandy perimeter and hop it around to imitate a wounded bait fish. ›› The “Right” Angle: The Flounder Fanatic (34- and 1 ½-ounce, www.bettstackle.net) comprises a lead disc molded with a specialized hook that protrudes nearly perpendicularly from one of the flat sides and then turns backward so the bend and the point lay parallel to the weight, and by extension, the bottom.
Made for drifting, trolling or casting, this rig keeps everything tight and compact, but the real sweet point is that paralleling the bottom practically spoon-feeds the flounder with just the right angle for its sideways mouth. A monofilament hook guard keeps the rig weedless, while a thin metal pin attached to the eye holds artificial in place.
Beats also makes a Flounder Fanatic Jig that takes a standard Deadhead design and gives the head/eye a quarter turn. Both conventional and spinning gear can be used, however conventional tackle is the norm for straight up bottom fishing with live or dead bait, while spinning tackle tends to be the go to when jigging for grouper. When looking for the best grouperbottomfishing reels, you will want to prioritize drag, line capacity, and most importantly gear ratio.
A gear ratio in the range of 4-5.5:1 is generally where you will want to be, providing the best blend of speed and torque to break the will of a bruising grouper. A narrow spooled reel will remain truer, resulting in a more consistent and powerful retrieve.
Some of the best options on the market currently are the Tali ca 12 and 16 single and two speed reels, Avert Ex and Haj G2 or Raptor Models, Accurate Boss Valiant 500 PN and 600 PN. The Penn 113H2 4/0 has also been a solid option for decades that does not have any of the modern features found in the reels above but continues to get the job done.
The only downside to braid will be its lack of abrasion resistance when compared to monofilament line, however a long fluorocarbon or mono leader will easily help you avoid that from becoming an issue. Fatties, or “doormats” when they get big, like their meals low and tight, so you’ll do best to keep a tempting bait in their zone.
Adjusting the bomber stopper up or down lets you lengthen or shorten the bait’s distance from the weight, thereby controlling how high it may rise in the water column. Modify this for flounder fishing with a Rocky Brook Sinker (www.rockybrooksinkers.com) made of actual limestone that’s cut, sanded smooth and fitted with a swivel.
These are highly effective for walking, dragging or hopping across uneven bottom that ensnare jigs of more slender profile. From jetty perimeters, to limestone outcroppings, to the underside of piers, football heads allow for more targeted casting and controlled movement in shaggy habitat.
Slip a soft-plastic stick bait or a light finesse worm on the hook and the rig looks like an eel or small fish rummaging across the bottom. But don’t stop your retrieve at the rocks’ edge; let your swim bait fall to the sandy perimeter and hop it around to imitate a wounded bait fish.
›› The “Right” Angle: The Flounder Fanatic (34- and 1 ½-ounce, www.bettstackle.net) comprises a lead disc molded with a specialized hook that protrudes nearly perpendicularly from one of the flat sides and then turns backward so the bend and the point lay parallel to the weight, and by extension, the bottom. Made for drifting, trolling or casting, this rig keeps everything tight and compact, but the real sweet point is that paralleling the bottom practically spoon-feeds the flounder with just the right angle for its sideways mouth.
A monofilament hook guard keeps the rig weedless, while a thin metal pin attached to the eye holds artificial in place. Beats also makes a Flounder Fanatic Jig that takes a standard Deadhead design and gives the head/eye a quarter turn.
This reef is home to a huge variety of fish, and lots of them are catchable and good table fare. That reef can be as deep as 100 feet in places and can be out of the water at low tide in other areas.
It’s easy to take the lower unit of your engine out on a shallow reef outcropping. When the animals die, the apartment houses remain and act as cover for fish and other marine growth.
Some coral formations look like fans growing up from the ocean floor. When you check out your chart, you will see that the water depth increases along the Florida Keys and Southeast coast as you move east.
That deeper water running inside the reef goes from Key West all the way north to Fort Lauderdale and beyond. It’s a great, mile-wide, protected pathway because, on a strong easterly flow of weather, the shallow reef protects the water and allows vessels to navigate in comparative calm.
Over the years numerous smaller cargo vessels used the Hawk Channel and in WWII, it was protection from German submarines. It’s these patches that hold the bigger sport fish that recreational and commercial anglers alike seek.
Black, gag and Nassau grouper, a variety of snapper, including mutton and yellowtail, porgies, and dogfish are all good to eat, fun to catch and live on the patch reefs. The bottom in the Hawk Channel is mostly sand or turtle grass, and it’s mostly flat.
Patch reefs stick up off that flat bottom sometimes as much as 15 to 20 feet. This round, up-cropping is full of nooks, crannies, and holes and is a perfect home for grouper and other bottom species.
I cast the rig with a live shrimp for bait so that it is on the bottom as close to the edge of the patch as I can get it. When the ballyhoo show up in the chum, I catch some of them with a small cane poll and use them for bait.
I’ll put a live ballyhoo on the bottom next to the patch reef. Keep what you plan to eat without freezing, and come back another day when you run out.
Catch and release is a good practice on these patch reefs, as it is anywhere in shallow water. Anglers in Florida recognize the grouper as a classic bottom fish and as a great catch for anyone who loves to fish.
The bank sinker should be attached to the 3-way swivel with 3 feet of 60lb mono using a perfection loop. Remember that when using live bait, be sure that the fish is rigged properly.
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A 113H special senator is fine but braid also allows you to lighten your tackle. I've got my Penn 706z filled with braid and several other spin fishers filled with braid and I grouper fish with all of them and it works great.
I would suggest at least 30lb rod, 80 lb braid line with 150lb leader(down to 50lb depending on water clarity), and the reel is personal choice. My favorite is my 20-something year old 113 Senators, just because that's one that my father passed down to me as a kid.
I also use this set-up and have been for years (I used to use mono main line and leader). Knocker rig w/ 60-100 # flour carbon leader (varies) I like to use live bait hooks unless I am in super deep water I'll use circle hooks....but looks like circle hooks will be mandatory on Florida reef fishing.
I have also been won over by braided line..... I use PowerPC 65#You can get this set up for right around $200 Offshorefisher7904-01-2013 06:14 Down in FL where I fish we use very heavy set up for Goliath groupers.
We use at least 125# main line with a leader that is equally strong. I use a Penn international 30W on a star rod 50-80 pound class.
We upgraded our gear because our regular grouper rods (80 pound braid) were not nearly enough to stop these big beasts. After some thought, and much research, I think I have an idea of how to set this reel up, please give me your opinions: my target is large Goliath, and I’m fishing in less than 80 foot of water here in Florida.