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.
There are quite a few other species of grouper that are found in deeper waters and throughout the Bahamas and other locations. For the most part, their habits are very similar and will be treated all the same when it comes to tackle and techniques.
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.
The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, channel edges and large bays such as Tampa Bay, and coral reefs of the Caribbean are prime spots to troll for grouper. 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.
Here is an overview of the content of this tutorial, feel free to jump to any section you care about: Characteristic features: a large head with a huge mouth, the lower jaw is advanced, a massive, laterally compressed body.
A giant grouper (Red Sea and Indian Ocean) grows over 400 kg. All groupers, from an early age, active predators, food addictions do not exist.
The fish sucks in its victims, creating a vacuum around the object of the hunt, widely opening a huge mouth of a rounded shape. They do not form large groups, they can come close to the shore, although they often live at great depths, about 100 m or more.
For representatives of the serranidae family, to which belong groupers, a certain feature in the method of reproduction is characteristic. In the Gulf of Mexico, during the spawning period, there is a massive production of groupers with nets and hook gear, which greatly affects the number of these fish.
In general, fishing occurs at sufficiently large depths at the bottom or at a complex rocky terrain. With any method of fishing, they use either heavy baits or special deep-wellings, as in the case of trolling.
In order to select the correct wiring, consult with experienced local fishermen or guides. Groupers, due to their size and temperament, are considered a very interesting opponent for trolling.
For fishing on ocean and sea open spaces, specialized vessels equipped with numerous devices are used. The main ones are the holders of the rods, in addition, the boats are equipped with chairs for fishing, a table for making baits, powerful echo sounders and more.
In the case of fishing for groupers, an important element of equipment are various sinkers (deepened). Trolling, especially when hunting for marine giants, is a group type of fishing.
In most cases, fishing is carried out by professional guides who are fully responsible for the event. It is worth noting that the search for a trophy at sea or in the ocean can be associated with many hours of bite waiting, sometimes unsuccessful.
It is worth considering that the size of trophies can be very significant, which requires special training from the fishing organizers. In most cases, fishing is carried out with the lure of predators by various bites of animal composition.
Among the natural ones, it is worth noting small live fish, for example, juvenile barracudas, sardines. For fishing on a spinning rod, “kickback” or trolling, various cobblers and artificial silicone imitations are used.
These beasts of the deep hit like no other fish in the world and will strain even the strongest fisherman. There is a reason that many people in South Florida seem to give up on all other species and target grouper specifically.
While some people describe the fight as “like a large catfish,” this is like saying that a monster truck is “like a car.” The initial hit will bury the butt of your rod in your gut and leave you breathless. It doesn’t matter if it’s a man made reef or natural, this is the preferred habitat.
You can also find them near drop-offs, rock structure, and the steeper sides of shipping channels. No matter the size, the grouper is a stout fish with a lot of strength.
Their strength combined with their massive mouth makes them an outstanding ambush predator. Normal foods are mostly baitfish, but they have been known to feed on crustaceans, squid, and just about anything else that gets too close.
These makes bait selection for grouper quite easy as they will eat most anything if it gets close enough. In the cooler months, grouper are likely to move closer to shore but there is no season that you can’t land one.
Even a 50-pound grouper is very capable of tearing apart a rig used for other similarly weighted fish. The reel needs to be heavy and capable of holding 80 to 100-pound test line.
You will need the strength of this setup to get the bests off the bottom or out of the holes they often run to when hooked. You can successfully fish groper with a spinning reel as long as its heavy duty and can hold the right line.
I’m pretty sure that even the largest wire hook would be straightened by a large grouper. Either braided or mono main line works as long as it’s strong enough and you have a good leader.
Being more abrasion resistant is a bonus when your quarry lives in rocky holes. The following three are general purpose rigs that will work well for Grouper or any other bottom feeding species.
This simple setup uses a three-way swivel with one loop attached to your mainline, one sinker, and one to your leader. A heavier leader is preferred but the line to the sinker should be relatively light so it can be broken off if need be.
Your swivel and line weights should be the same as the above rig and your leader should be less than 10 feet. This takes any slack out of the leader and gives you a shot at setting the hook before the fish darts back to cover.
This rig offers any live bait more room to move and works well to draw out reluctant feeders. In this case, the sinker is attached to the mainline above the swivel, usually by simply looping the line through.
The main downside of this rig is that it gives a grouper plenty of time to get back home before you get the hook set. Sardines are probably the most successful live bait, especially if caught fresh with a net or bait fish rig.
Due to the noise they make, many fishermen swear by using live grunts as an at tractor for grouper. Blue Runners are another popular fish if you are after larger grouper species.
Grouper are not a picky species and will most anything including lady fish, menhaden, squirrel fish, and thread fin just to name a few. Crab is a less popular bait for grouper but can work well of a bottom rig, especially for shallower water species.
One of the biggest problems with using lures is getting down deep enough without getting hopelessly caught on the structure they call home. Buck tails fished the same way can produce some good hits, especially with juvenile or smaller grouper.
Patterns that imitate sardine, mullet, and pinkish are probably the most popular and successful options. I will admit that I am a big fan of fishing spoons in general, I think they are an underrated lure option.
Getting hung up is a real concern with spoons but if you drag one in front of a grouper, there is a good chance he is going to take it. Grouper are not a fast fish and may ignore lures that move by too quickly.
Moderate your speed and pauses, you can expect more hits when the bait is left idle for a second. Though normally associated with open water fish, trolling is an excellent tactic to cover a lot of ground in your search for grouper.
You will have to factor in fuel cost but you may find it worthwhile to spend the extra money for a more likely catch. Off the coast of Miami, trolling for grouper has become a big part of the local fishing scene.
The idea is to get a large lipped diving plug and send it down to skim the sand in 20 to 30 feet of water. Your trolling speed should be slow and your lure should be running less than 20 feet from the abundant rock structure in the area.
If you pass your lure close by a waiting grouper, it is more than likely that he will rush out to grab it the moment he sees it. The Tampa fishermen will run the sides of shipping channels with a live bait suspend just along the steep edge.
Controlling your depth to keep it in range of the channel wall without getting it hung up requires some skill. The boat will easily haul them out of range of their cover and all that’s left is the fight.
If there are grouper, trolling is an effective tactic provided you can get a lure down deep enough. Usually, you will see fishermen using either live bait or large lipped diving plugs when trolling.
You will have to get them down to the bottom and that can be rough on live bait but may be worth the trouble. Keep your speed low, your lure deep, and stay close to structure.
If you get a hit from a large grouper, it may feel like you are hung up until it yanks hard on the line. That critical moment of the bite is your only shot at a solid hooks set.
After the shock of your first large grouper catch, the first order of business may be shaking some life back into your arms. It will surprise you just how hard a 20-pound grouper can pull compared to any other fish you have ever hooked.
Unless you are a guide that depends on the gear for your livelihood, it may not be worth the money. Few denizens of the deep have brought as many fishermen to their knees or humbled as many experienced sinker bouncers as monster gags determined to make it back to their lairs.
I’ve been there and each time I locked up and held on, pushing my tackle to its very limits in an attempt to prevent the fish from rocking my world, I emitted strange moans and groans reserved for only such occasions. Fortunately, the tables have turned and the majority of my recent hard-fought grouper encounters have left me on the winning end, but that wasn’t always the case.
Years ago I was one of those lost souls who mistakenly believed he could get away with inferior tackle better suited for open water king mackerel fishing than beating industrial-strength bottom brawlers. Powered by wide broom-like tails and muscular shoulders, the large profile of a hefty gag grouper alone spells trouble.
These dominant bottom feeders thrive in forage-rich habitats ranging from relatively shallow rock piles to ledges and peaks sitting under hundreds of feet of water. Stout tackle suitable for the task is an absolute must if you want to head back to port with a big fish in the box.
Heavy-duty outfits are required not only for slamming the breaks on determined adversaries, but also for dealing with heavy sinkers, big baits and deep water habitats. Cranking Power While no one reel is ideal for all gag grouper applications, large fish and heavy terminal gear require high-quality conventional.
The 6/0 isn’t the fastest reel, nor is it the prettiest or lightest for its size, but it is tough as nails with plenty of line capacity and substantial cranking power. Modern two-speed lever drag reels are also a solid choice, with the Died Saliva SALD60 and Shaman Tyros TYR20II at the top of the list.
However, while these modern winches are much lighter than a Penn Senator, they do require a chunky investment and may not be the ideal choice for relatively inexperienced anglers unfamiliar with lever drag systems or the benefits of two-speed reels. Also, be sure to select a rod with a relatively long butt section for added leverage when heaving back against misbehaving fish.
While I believe in custom rods built for the way you fish, Cousins Tackle manufactures an excellent off the shelf graphite grouper stick, the Lb 8050. If you’re looking for gags on near-shore rock piles and ledges of the Atlantic Coast, or fishing the Middle Grounds deep in the Gulf of Mexico, 80 to 130 lb.
Grouper will easily exploit the weakest link in your terminal connections and its critical line and leader are free of abrasions. Remember that proper rigging is all about balance, so if you’re specifically targeting jumbo gags with beefed up gear, then upgrade your hook to ensure it can withstand the extreme stress associated with fishing heavier line and leader.
If you can stop a big gag before it enters a cave or ducks under a sharp ledge, then you may get a chance to enjoy fresh grouper for dinner. Call your chiropractor and get ready for a spine adjustment because we are going to give you some sweet tips on how to get the box full.
There are three main ways to double over your rod on these hard pulling bottom dwellers. Five pound boxes of Spanish Sardines and Cigar Minnows are a great way to get the ball rolling when bottom fishing for grouper.
The most common live baits are pinkish, grass grunts, and squirrel fish. Leader material ranges from 50lbs to 100lbs depending on the depth and the size of fish that you are targeting.
And listen, unless you’re trying to be the little drummer boy, patient don’t bounce the lead on the bottom. Over the last five years, vertical jigs have made their way to many of the top grouper anglers' arsenals.
Braided line is the key component to making this system work. The good old trusty stand by Buck tail jigs can also be fished on these rod and reel combos.
Grouper are often targeted because their flesh has an amazing texture and consistency that people love on sandwiches, blackened on a plate, or in a salad. If you haven’t had a grouper sandwich, you’re missing one of life’s true pleasures.
Most anglers don’t realize it, but there are actually 17 different species of Grouper swimming in the waters of Florida. Only three species cannot be caught and eaten, you can see in the black cells in the chart below.
You’ll find the adult fish around 60 feet deep and more. And stay at the bottom (3 to 230 feet deep) eating crustaceans and smaller fish.
Coney Grouper have color variations including hues of red, brown, and yellow. Body with many small blue spots unless in bright yellow phase coloration.
Identification isn’t difficult when the Goliath Grouper is mature at 400 to 800 lbs. Goliath Grouper Identifying Features Can grow to 8 feet in length and over 800 lbs.
Grays by Groupers are best identified with series of spots below dorsal fin. Operate with 3 flat spines (by anus) 4 dark or white spots at base of dorsal fin.
Misty Grouper Identifying Features Easily recognizable by 8-11 dark bands, similar to Sleepyhead fish. These Red Grouper spawn more than twenty times between February and June each year.
Lives on rocky reefs and feeds on crabs mostly and fish secondarily. Rock Hind Grouper Identifying Features Coloration varies, but overall tan color with large oval/circular spots of reddish brown, red, and dark gray and black that get larger toward the ventral side (belly).
Scamp grouper have almost decorative fins, which can make them easy to identify. Scamp Grouper Identifying Features Scamp Grouper have a brown or reddish body, sometimes it is light gray Lateral (sides) are covered with dark spots, sometimes in small groups.
Upper and lower caudal fin rays are long in a spot, giving appearance of an oriental style fish. Tail is also unique with top and bottom having lengthy spines.
Sub-adults are dark brown and have white spots in vertical rows on head and body. Speckled Hind Grouper Identifying Features Adults (15 inches +) are dark reddish brown and covered all over by small bright white spots.
These are beautiful fish to see in real life, the illustration isn’t bad either. Yellow fin Grouper Identifying Features The outer one-third of the pectoral fins are bright yellow.
IUCN Realist Status: The Goliath Grouper is listed as Vulnerable and populations declining. Other Grouper species in Florida State waters are plentiful and not in danger of being overfished.
Appearance: Grouper have a thicker body than some other fish with respect to length. Some Grouper are found in the Caribbean, Cuba, Portugal, Trinidad, Brazil, and the West Indies.
Young grouper spend their early years near submerged rocks and other structure close to the beach, so they don’t become prey for Shook, Jacks, Redfish, other Grouper, Tarpon, and Sharks. Diet: Pinkish, mullet, other bait fish, crabs, squid, octopus, lobster.
This section was easy to write because all three grouper world records were caught in Florida, so they’re the same. The Biggest Gag Grouper was caught in 1993 in the waters off Destiny, Florida and the big fish was 80 pounds, 6 ounces.
With the average adult Goliath Grouper weighing in at around 400 lbs., you know the biggest one recorded is going to be huge right? The Biggest Goliath Grouper was caught on hook and line in 1961 at Fernanda Beach, Florida.
I remember talking to some people who’d seen a massive Goliath Grouper at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that they named Hitler. The Biggest Red Grouper was 42 pounds, 4 ounce fish that was caught on hook and line off St. Augustine, in the Atlantic side of Florida in 1997.
Grouper is one of the most often targeted species of fish by anglers all over the USA for a couple of reasons. If you’ve never had a blackened grouper sandwich at a restaurant along the coast in Florida, you’re missing an incredible experience.
Grouper is thick and juicy and has an odd texture that most fish don’t possess. Besides being great for a meal, Grouper takes your bait and immediately pulls hard when it realizes it is attached to your line.
It’s a real fight to get a grouper up off the bottom of the sea, especially if it’s down 100 feet or more. They’re heavy, strong, and tough fighting fish that will give you a workout.
Small grouper can be found generally inshore, and in water 15 feet deep or more usually. I’ve caught small black, red, and gag grouper in shallow areas near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in south Pinellas County.
To find adult grouper you’ll need to take a charter off the coast and ride out for a while to reach deeper water. Around 60 feet deep is a good starting point, and any structure, wrecks, or rocks will probably hold at least a grouper or two, but bigger areas will hold dozens, possibly hundreds.
Don’t get me wrong, you CAN find grouper in shallower water when it’s cooler, and I’ve seen them pull 12 lb. Gag Grouper out of 10 feet of water off the Gulf Coast.
If you’re fishing with artificial, you can get some larger Your Minnows with 2 treble hooks and try those retrieved at a fast (but not blinding) rate. Hit the piers, wrecks, rocks, and fallen trees to try to find some Grouper in the shallows if you are in a Kayak fishing or other small boat.
Every year there are some good size Grouper pulled in at most of the big piers in Florida. Big Grouper bait casting reels and strong rods are essential if targeting fish over 50 lbs.
Bait casting / Trolling Reels This PENN REEL (at Amazon) for Inshore Fishing (Grouper, Redfish, Cobra) Made in America (Philadelphia, PA.) The easiest way to set up a Grouper Rig is to use a simple egg sinker, swivel, and leader on the end of your braided line.
Mono with an 8/0 Circle Hook holding live bait like a Pinkish, Pilchard, or other similarly sized fish. You don’t set a circle hook, you’ll likely just pull it free of the mouth before it has a chance to work itself into the jaw of the fish.
You can Troll for Grouper in the Gulf, and that works well for people who feel like they have to be on the move and want to fish shallow water. Hook and line, and spearfishing are legal options for harvesting most Grouper Species.
Grouper species are regulated differently, and it’s quite daunting to try to comb through the official website and figure out what you can and can’t catch, when and where. We’ve combined all Grouper Laws into this graphic to make it easier, but to be honest, it’s a bit easier, but you still need to read a lot to understand how to take Grouper legally in Florida and in International Waters.
If fishing from 3 to 200 nautical miles off the coast of Florida, Georgia, South or North Carolina, you can use this mobile application to stay up to date on the fishing rules on the Atlantic Coast. Grouper are farm raised in some areas of the world, primarily Asia.
Here’s an interesting and informative article about some challenges Grouper farmers faced in Thailand. The best way to cook Grouper is to blacken it with some Cajun spices or something that adds some spiciness or other flavor to it.
I always bleed the grouper immediately after catching by cutting the gills with scissors or a knife after I’ve put him out of his misery. Trying to bleed a fish after icing, is an exercise in futility as not all the blood comes out easily.
I also coat each side in some finely ground black pepper because I love the taste. Put the Grouper Fillets in the pan and cover, leaving room for the steam to gather, and escape.
Cut your Italian bread into sandwich-sized portions and smear butter and minced garlic pieces on them. Put in oven on top shelf on Broil until lightly brown, remove quickly.
However, whenever they sense danger, they tend to make power run to the bottom of the water. If you have ever tried catching a Goliath Grouper, then you can bear witness on how it canton you around and how easily they can snap thick rods.
They are roughly at the top of the food chain since they tend to eat all types of fish, whether they are rays, permits, and even smaller sharks. Some anglers have also observed that Goliath Groupers have a habit of stealing fish that has been hooked by them.
They are a bit rare, therefore before you begin looking for one, ensure that you have confirmed sightings of these fish in that particular water source. However, these large members of the grouper family tend to like shallow waters that range from 5 to 15 meters.
In other areas, they have been fished out, the odds of coming into contact with one are slightly thin. At the beginning of this article, we did mention how you must use a specialized technique to catch a Goliath Grouper.
Most anglers who go for Goliath Grouper fishing end up breaking several rods due to the energy used in catching one. Fortunately, on the market, there are rods built and designed for Goliath Grouper fishing.
It is highly recommended for you to invest in heavier gear both for your sake and that of the fish. You will be surprised at the massive number of them which swim around with a hook in their mouths due to use of light gear.
Ensure that you keep enough distance that gives you the chance to pull them away before they make a run for it. If you observe that your bait isn’t being noticed byte grouper, then you can bounce it off the bottom and create some form of movement.
The good news is that Goliath Groupers eat a variety of fish. Rays are also excellent bait for catching Goliath Groupers mostly because they do give off a lot of scents that attractGroupers.
Note that the peak season for catching this species is in between June to August and remember that it is illegal to keep. Tackle specifically for these large fish can make catching it relatively less hectic.
You should shop for Goliath Grouper fishing rods and lines prior. Big live fish is the ideal bait to use, and even the heaviest tackle or line/drags cannot hold Goliath.