The one thing that all groupers have in common is that they are bottom dwelling, structure oriented fish. Seldom will one be found high up in the water column or on sandy bottom with no structure.
Penn is THE name in saltwater tackle and makes some excellent equipment at reasonable prices. This can handle most the bottom fishing situations as well as some light tackle trolling.
Anglers fishing in hundreds of feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean with heavy lead will need a stouter outfit than those fishing in 40 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers fishing in shallow, clear water sometimes find that lighter spinning tackle makes a more natural presentation.
Some anglers simply prefer the comfort and feel of a spinning outfit. This mostly occurs in the shallow waters of the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa.
Therefore, anglers anchor or drift a decent distance from the spot and cast live baits or lures in towards the structure. A 7-8 foot heavy action rod with a 6000 series real is a good all-around combination.
While the initial cost is higher, braided line last much longer than monofilament. This is very important when grouper fishing as it allows anglers to feel the take as well is get the grouper away from the structure.
Braided line is also thinner in diameter, which allows it to sink faster when fishing in deep water. Many use a strong black swivel to connect the leader to the main line.
A sliding sinker is often placed on the main line and then the swivel stops it from going any further. Leader length and strength varies greatly, depending on the fishing situation.
In very deep water, just reeling and coming tight as is done with circle hooks works the best anyway. The weight is generally placed on the running line ahead of the swivel that attaches the leader.
With this rig, the sinker slides on the leader and rest right on the eye of the hook. Also, when snagged up, the sinker jerking up on the line then banging the eye of the hook will often free it.
With this rig, multiple hooks are tied off of dropper loops on the main line. The bank sinker works well as it tends to walk and bounce off of rocks and other snags.
While most grouper are caught on live or natural bait, there are a few situations when they can be taken on artificial lures as well. Trolling with deep diving plugs is an incredibly effective technique when grouper are in fairly shallow water.
It allows anglers to cover a lot of water over a large piece of structure in search of fish. Trolling is effective anywhere that there is submerged structure in the 50 feet deep or shallower range.
They are categorized by size, giving anglers a good idea of how deep they will go. Papal and several other lure manufacturers also make quality deep diving plugs for grouper fishing.
With the boat idling along at 4 to 5 knots, the plug will dig down to the maximum depth, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. A down rigger is a device with a cable and a heavy ball which takes the lure down deep.
This technique is used extensively in the Great Lakes region for walleye and salmon. Grouper can also be caught by anglers casting artificial lures, though there are limited situations where this can occur.
Basically, when grouper are holding over structure in fairly shallow water, usually 10 feet deep or shallower, casting lures over the structure and retrieving them back in can produce jarring strikes from grouper. Plugs will dive to a determined depth, while jigs can be worked through the entire water column but are extremely effective when bounced on the bottom right on top of the structure.
White buck tail jigs are often used and can be tipped with a strip of squid or cut fish. There are basically four types of grouper that are found in good numbers in the United States.
Gag grouper are very aggressive and are the species most often targeted by anglers fishing with artificial lures. Black grouper are normally found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and down around the Florida Keys.
Surprisingly, they are often encountered in the inshore waters, as shallow as five or 6 feet deep. Many a large Goliath grouper has surprised an angler casting to the mangroves for shook or redfish.
Eddie sat down on the deck and braced his foot against the rail, I figured we were into a big one. When his hat fell off, and he started to make grunting sounds, I was sure of it.
Eddie looked up at me with a twisted smile and was just hanging onto the rod for dear life. Something was living in this wreck 10 miles off southwest Florida, and whatever it was had already beaten us up several times.
But on this day we were maxed out on gear big enough to crank one of these monsters up ... if only Capt. This started out innocently enough a few weeks earlier when a couple of fishing buddies and I dropped a live pinkish on 30# mono down on a wreck 50 feet deep looking for a grouper dinner.
Something big grabbed it, screamed out about 40 feet of drag, got into the wreck and cut the line on something sharp. Something wolfed down the pinkish and took line like the rod was tied to a dragster.
It had to be a big grouper, a shark, a giant ray, or maybe a huge barracuda. The rod bent over 180 degrees, the back of the boat went down 6 inches, and the 150# braid snapped like a rifle shot.
I asked the guys in the local bait shops if they knew any captains up for the task of fishing for seemingly unwatchable monsters. The Goliath, once called the Jewish, is the biggest member of the grouper family.
Goliath's can live 50 years and grow to behemoth size. The winds of spring kept us inshore for a couple of weeks, so we enjoyed the opportunity to fish the bridges for pompano and sea trout.
It finally took a rig spooled with 150# braid, a 500# mono top shot, and huge #16 circle hook under 2 ounces of lead to bring a Goliath to the surface. Eddie's wreck, and he pulled a big Spanish mackerel out of his cooler, the one bait he said Goliath can't refuse.
It was a short, furious, and profane battle, a hard fought back-and-forth fish fight, exciting to watch with an uncertain end. Eddie prevailed, and suddenly a giant brown fish appeared on the surface and lay at the side of the boat as exhausted as Capt.
On the next calm day I returned to my wreck lying now in water so clear you could see its dark silhouette on the white sand bottom 50 feet below. I went over the side to find an old shrimper torn apart by hurricanes and fishermen's anchors, its wheelhouse barely recognizable.
And then they appeared, slowly emerging from the shadows of broken masts and rigging. A fearless giant Goliath carries the remnants of three different rigs ripped from fishermen.
Three fishing rigs hung from his mouth, one still with its sinker, medals of recent battles won, and then I recognized one of my rigs, the 150# braid to a black swivel to 200# mono, hanging out of the left side of his mouth. There was the proof: These were the bad boys that had beat us up, and a few other fishermen, too, by the looks of it.
I returned to the surface knowing those hooks will soon rust and the line will fall away, and these Goliath's will own this wreck for many years to come. Goliath grouper can be found across the Caribbean from Central America, around the Gulf, and up the Atlantic to the Carolina's, but they are most plentiful in Florida.
If you are looking for a great fight and even better table fare, when in season, grouper bottom fishing can fit the bill and then some. 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 grouper bottom fishing 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. 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.
Found nearshore around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges; young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars; more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters. Spawns over summer months; lifespan of 30 to 50 years; feeds on crustaceans and fish.
CLOSED TO HARVEST OR POSSESSION IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC EEA (FEDERAL WATERS) SINCE 1990. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has provided additional guidelines on release techniques for Goliath grouper.
Note: Goliath grouper and Nassau grouper must be released by cutting the line and NOT removed from the water. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has provided additional guidelines on release techniques for Goliath grouper.
At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Descending Device Requirement: Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species; Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.
Descending Device Requirement: Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species; Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.
These fish are the largest of the Grouper family and their size has rightfully earned the name GOLIATH ! If you find a five hundred pound Grouper at the end of your line you are going to be pretty sure it is the GoliathGrouper.
Over the last 30 years that these fish have been under protection their populations in the Florida area have rebounded quite well. Many anglers are targeting these fish on a catch and release basis only.
It is not illegal to catch them but you do have to abide by a few guidelines when releasing the fish as to protect them as much as possible: The fish must be returned to the water immediately free, alive, and unharmed Photographs can be taken but only during the active act of release.
The skeletal structure of large Goliath grouper cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage. If a large Goliath is brought on-board a vessel or out of the water, it is likely to sustain some form of internal injury and therefore be considered harvested.
Removing smaller Goliath groupers from the water to remove hooks is not necessarily a bad practice, but this process must be done with care, using proper fish handling techniques, and the fish must be returned to the water as expeditiously as possible. Like any wild animal, GoliathGrouper are most dangerous when they feel threatened or when they are hungry.
GoliathGrouper have huge mouths and can swallow large fish whole. This exact scenario is actually the basis for a lot of shark encounters as well for divers and spear fisherman.
If you do catch a GoliathGrouper and jump in the water with them for a picture, remember, their sheer size and strength can injure you if they were to start slashing around. You will find them near reefs, shipwrecks, rock ledges, old phosphate docks, etc.
They live in shallow water up to around 150 feet deep and hold tight to the structure mentioned above. In the Atlantic Ocean They range from Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, The Bahamas, through the Caribbean, and down most of the coastline of Brazil.
Well, they are believed to grow to over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 800 pounds making this the largest reef dwelling fish in the world! The current world record for GoliathGrouper is 680 pounds and was caught off the coast of Florida at Fernanda Beach in 1961.
There have been a lot of very large GoliathGrouper caught since 1961 when you were allowed to harvest and weigh the fish. Many anglers argue new world records have been brought to the edge of their boat.
Since anglers are not allowed to remove large Grouper from the ocean it is impossible to know their exact weight unfortunately. One of the reasons GoliathGrouper populations are so threatened is because of their slow growth and re-population rates.
GoliathGrouper males reach sexual maturity around the age of 4 – 6 years old. At this age these fish are already around 4 ft long and would look like adults to many fishermen.
The big guys can definitely pull you off the boat and have been known to break lines and even rods! GoliathGrouper feed mostly on crustaceans like crab and lobster, fish, rays, and even sharks around the reef.
They are opportunistic feeders and will eat live or dead bait as long as it is fresh, they really aren't all that picky. Outside the US these fish are harder to find as they taste great and are not hard to spear.
They are not shy and unlike most fish, will not be in a hurry to swim away, making them an easy target. Bouncing your rig off the bottom a little to create some commotion will help them notice your bait.
Make sure you have some good leather gloves when hand lining these massive fish. Rigging for GoliathGrouper isn't difficult just takes some heavy-duty line and crimps, about 16 ounces of weight and a 20/O Circle Hook.
For GoliathGrouper you will want 600 pound test monofilament fishing line. You can do it relatively close to shore with a live Sting Ray and a hand line if you don't have heavy-duty gear.
One of the world's largest groupers, this species can grow to over 7 feet long, exceed 750 pounds, and live at least 37 years. Goliath grouper grow slowly, mature relatively late (4-6 years old), and aggregate to spawn.
The status of the species throughout its entire geographic range is unclear and there are many factors that increase goliath's susceptibility to overfishing. While their primary diet consists of slow moving, bottom-dwelling species, they are opportunistic predators that occasionally feed upon a struggling fish being reeled in by anglers.
As with many reef fish, angling at deeper depths may result in gas expansion and extensive boat-side handling that can cause injury or mortality. To quantify the long-term behavioral patterns and residence times of Goliath grouper within the study area.
Acoustic telemetry and conventional tagging will be used to assess both immediate and long-term effects of catch-and-release angling and to provide data regarding residency and behavior of this protected species. Goliath grouper are known to remain in the same area for extended periods, and they have a tendency to aggregate around habitat such as shipwrecks.
The monitored shipwrecks in this study (Figure 1) have been chosen based on ongoing research that indicates consistent goliathgrouper presence. Quantitatively assessing the effects of catch-and-release angling for goliathgrouper, in addition to continued investigation into population dynamics, movement patterns, and stock structure, will provide valuable information for future management or regulation.
Once at the surface, goliathgrouper are left in the water and positioned at the side of the boat so that they can be measured, photographed, and fitted with tags. Goliath grouper are tracked manually immediately after release, which provides information regarding short-term survival and behavior after a catch-and-release event.
Conventional external ID tags are attached to each goliathgrouper to provide recapture/relighting data through diver surveys and angler recapture reports. Continued underwater surveys will provide further information regarding abundance, size distribution, and seasonal patterns for goliathgrouper within the study area.
It is the goal of this project to synthesize these data for a better understanding of goliathgrouper biology and ecology that can support the development of responsible and effective management. Acoustic receivers were placed at designated shipwrecks shown in previous research to be frequented year-round by goliathgrouper. Depths ranged from 40 to 105 feet.
Receivers positioned strategically around the shipwreck maximize the monitored area and ensure adequate detection of tagged fish. However, no matter which species you target, or what their size, you'll find they're great challengers worth squaring off against.
Grouper Hiding Out Near its Lair Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don Maria Collection, Flickr We were fishing at about 800 feet, and the task of drifting over the hole where the snowy grouper were lurking, combined with the need to keep the hook off the ocean floor was an awesome challenge.
40 Pound Snowy Grouper Caught On Marathon Fishing Charters Trip Dan Sheehan, Todd Render, Captain Eldridge The level of skill needed when deep sea fishing is immense, and the fishing gear required is far greater than the normal person owns.
As A Fishing Booker Affiliate I Can Earn Small Booking Commissions At No Extra Cost To You Want To Go GrouperFishing ? This means you have to fight, drag and pull this unwilling heavyweight up from its dark depths.
To prevent this from happening, immediately crank down hard on your drag so the fish can't take more of your line. Then begin to reel the fish in as quickly as possible so it can't get back into it's hiding spot.
Hoisting one of these fish up can feel like raising the Titanic, or at least a cement truck. The Goliath have learned that this is the perfect opportunistic moment for a quick and easy meal, and will often attack and eat your fish before you reel it in.
Two Large Hooked Black Grouper Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don Maria Collection, Flickr The sheer prospect of lifting that amount of weight through that much water, is a recipe for pure exhaustion.
Deep drop fishing is where you use a heavy duty electric reel loaded with lots of heavyweight line. You also set up multiple hooks at different lengths with strobe lights attached to attract the fish.
You then attach live or freshly cut bait to the hooks and set the line so it's vertical in the water. The best choice for bait is squid because this is the most common food source for fish living at these greater depths.
Of course this rapidly catching on technique means evolving into an additional fishing tackle line which is necessary if you want to have productive results grouper fishing in Florida. Traditionally, deep drop equipment has been quite expensive, but it has begun to come down in price making it more affordable.
This has increased the number of people who are now actively pursuing this exciting, productive, and challenging form of fishing. The electric reels and rods that you can use run the gambit in terms of usability and price.
You also won't want to forget employing some critical components that pull this all together such as the strobe lighting. When grouper fishing Florida Keys deep waters, it would seem that your objectives would be obvious.
The key to this method is to drop your line vertically and keep it tight. Once you feel that first bite, give it a good solid jerk, and immediately begin to try and retrieve the fish.
Trolling Can Be A Very Productive Florida Fishing Technique www.photolib.noaa.gov Photo Derek Snodgrass, NOAA/NFS/SE FSC/SD Trolling for gag, black and other grouper species is another popular technique when fishing in 15' to 25' of water.
Knowing this, anyone sport fishing Florida Keys can expect the same kind of action whether targeting gag, snowy, black or even Warsaw. However, once that mission is accomplished it may feel more like a spiraling, downhill, roller coaster ride, rather than a Florida fishing trip.
When looking for the best grouper bottom fishing 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.
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.