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 toucan 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. Don’t let them do that, and the first thing to do after hooking one is crank the reel and lift the rod up as much as toucan.
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.
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. Since groupers in general, have a big mouth, sizeable circle hooks are the best for these fish.
The red grouper is one of the most important species of fish caught off the southeast coast of the Unite States. Color is variable and can change, however the head and body are generally dark brown with a reddish cast, shading to pink or reddish below, with pale poorly defined pale areas and small black spots around the eye.
Although some populations are below target levels, U.S. wild-caught red grouper is still a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. Fishing gear used to catchredgrouper rarely contacts the ocean bottom and has minimal impacts on habitat.
Large sharks and carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper. Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil.
Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect red grouper during their peak spawning period.
To reduce by catch, there are restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish. Minimum size limits protect immature red grouper.
Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers. Groupers are a species of fish that belong to the Epinephrine subfamily of the family Serranidae.
If you are casting in the shallows, use jerk bait and retrieve it erratically to lure the fish out in the open. You will need heavy tackle, especially if there are a lot of rocks under the water where you are fishing and a braided line that can withstand the powerful pull of a caught grouper.
If you are using spinning tackle, make sure that the reel is heavy enough to withstand an 80 to 100-pound test mainline and a low gear ratio to give you more control. This tackle will come in handy when the panicking grouper fish tries to swim under a ledge to break the line.
For live bait, use pinkish, grunts, blue runner, sardines, and mullet. The grouper is a lean and moist fish that has a mild flavor, and the flesh is firm and flaky.