They prefer to be able to seek shelter and hide, and although their name implies that they stay together, they can also be very solitary fish. Their coloration and ability to change hues and shades to identify with their surroundings give them that ambush capability.
Anglers find that medium heavy bottom fishing tackle is the best way to approach the grouper. Conventional reels in the thirty- to fifty-pound class teamed with a medium heavy boat rod will do the trick.
Grouper feed on other small fish, crustaceans like crabs or crawfish, and squid. When an easy opportunity swims buy they rush out, inhale their prey, and quickly return to their lair.
A good rod and reel, with fifty-pound test monofilament line, can handle almost all the grouper you may encounter. The terminal tackle consists of a sinker, leader, and hook arranged one of two ways.
Even when the rig is dropped right into the bottom structure, it seldom hangs up, something charter captains love. More serious grouper anglers will opt for the second approach, called a live bait rig.
Advertised as virtually invisible to fish, it does seem to draw more strikes than regular monofilament. Grouper run out, grab a bait, and head back for cover.
Serious grouper anglers will crank the drag down on their reel as hard as they can, often using a pair of pliers to lock it down. The idea is to stop the grouper from taking the line and returning to his structure home.
When a grouper strikes, anglers will lay their rod on the rail and start winding as hard as they can. When a grouper makes it into a rock or reef, many anglers will simply break off the line and try again.
In the Gulf of Mexico, grouper anglers use magnum diving plugs that will go as deep as thirty feet or more. Strip baits are cut and attached to a double hooked trolling feather.
The wire line method is popular in and around south Florida in the winter when big black grouper move into the shallower reefs. Sometimes thirty yards in diameter, they are an ideal habitat for black grouper.
When one occurs, the boat moves directly away from the reef to drag the fish away from its hole. A head boat that provides the bait and tackle is an ideal way to bring some home to eat.
Now that you have your rod, reel, braided line and leader material it's time to put it all together. This involves terminal tackle: swivels, snaps, weights (sinkers) and hooks, as well as spooling the reel.
Over the years I have settled on three types of knots and a configuration that allows me to change weights and hooks on the fly. The approach also allows storage of the rig parts easily and conveniently Let's see what is involved.
Purchase swivels that are salt water rated and have a breaking strength in the 90-125lb range. Circle hooks are designed to lodge in the corner of the jaw as opposed to gut-hooking a fish.
The non-offset circle hook complies with both federal and state regulations so get those to be safe. It is debatable whether this is needed for most grouper fishing but the little advantage it brings won't hurt.
Tie the end of the braid to a spool of mono (15-30 lb test) using a double uni knot Continue winding until the reel is full. Finally, tie the end of the mono from the last step on to the reel you want to fill and wind it on.
The result is a reel backed by mono and filled to the max with braid. Finally, we will tie the snap swivel to the end of the leader, make up some interchangeable weight connections and tie some hooks to separate sections of leader.
SINKER Attachments: I find it convenient to be able to switch out weights while fishing without having to retie anything. To accomplish this, thread a sinker on to a 6" section of leader and tie a regular swivel on one end and a snap swivel on the other end using an improved clinch knot.
Tie this knot so that the line is going through the hook eye in the direction of the point (the opposite of the demo link). On the other end of the leader attach a regular swivel with an improved cinch knot.
Are tough as heck fighters Can be found in most regions/depths Grouper provide some of the most popular fish-eating meat in America… Makes them a very popular fish to both offshore and inshore anglers (and tourists looking for a good Grouper sandwich).
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.
By the end of this article, you’ll be extra prepared for your next grouper fishing trip. As with most predatory fish, using live bait for grouper will be your best bet as long as local regulations allow.
If you’re targeting a rock pile or wreck, anchor your boat up current and throw some old cut bait in the water. This technique works great for both bottom fishing and spearfish, as long as you have a solid pair of free diving fins.
We like using a 6 to 7-foot long heavy action rod paired with a bottom-fishing reel and 50 lb test braided line. Like we mentioned earlier, we usually fish for grouper off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, so these are the species you’ll most likely encounter there.
They are gray and brown and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage. Gag groupers will even hang in water only a few feet deep if there are structure and bait fish nearby.
Their massive size means you need to fish with an extra heavy-duty set up in order to stand a chance. One of the first mistakes amateur grouper fishermen make is keeping their drag at a normal level.
This is a big mistake when fishing for grouper due to their tendency to retreat back to rocky holes and tunnels after they take your bait. IF your drag is set high, it will be much harder for them to make it back to their rocky hideouts before you can reel them away.
Drifting allows you to cover more water and get your bait in front of more fish than if you anchor your boat. Since oftentimes the difference between catching a grouper and not is just finding them, drifting allows you to maximize your chances enticing them to bite.
As long as the current isn’t too strong and your lures aren’t down too deep, you should still be able to keep your live/dead bait right where you want it. Since they live at deeper depths than other sports fish, they still enjoy feeding when the surface bite is off.
This is why it’s always a good idea to have a bottom fishing reel and rod ready for off days. Now that you know what the proper grouper bait is and how to fish it, you’ll be prepared next time you get out on the water.
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GrouperHook, Tin Size 13/0Gamakatsu's Grouper Hooks are just as the name suggests, for use in pulling big grouper from the depths. Built super strong and sharp to hold up the pressure of enormous, hard-fighting grouper.
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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.
Shaman has developed one of the most innovative systems to fish vertical jigs. The good old trusty stand by Buck tail jigs can also be fished on these rod and reel combos.
A 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leads to a circle hook, with the size depending on the bait. The Canal connects directly to Lake Rousseau (inland) and Withlacoochee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Deep Sea Charter Fishing from Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida, with offshore permitted Professional Captain, Craig Best. The first and most experienced Gulf of Mexico deep drop offshore charter boat.
In the Gulf of Mexico, grouper anglers use magnum diving plugs that will go as deep as thirty feet or more. The Gulf has fairly calm water most of the year (except for our new 11-month recent hurricane season).
1) Fort DeSoto Park in south St. Petersburg leads the list on Florida’s left coast. Top Southwest Gulf Coast Fishing Charters & Tours: See reviews and photos of fishing charters & tours in Southwest Gulf Coast, Florida on TripAdvisor.
Crystal River, Florida offers the best fishing for grouper, without the long boat rides, that you will ever experience. We have been fishing Pulley ridge and beyond since 2007 Specializing in limited pass deepwater multi day trips.
The closest boat ramp is about half a mile away, with access to the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Along the gulf coast, anglers will be catching grouper, snapper, trigger fish, and amber jacks that fight hard and are delicious to eat.
Fish the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico off Fort Myers Beach and Daniel Island for grouper, grunts, King and Spanish mackerel, cobra, amber jack, sharks and more! Renowned for prolific freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities, Franklin County is every angler’s paradise.
The grouper were so thick and hungry, even I managed to catch a few, including this one, on a (way-too-light) little Obama Helios So spinning reel with 12-pound braided line. Gary Golden, Strike Zone, 27 Ocean Masters, Clearwater We all pretty much use an egg sinker with molded-in … There is an abundance of fishing locations along with untouched natural scenery in every inshore charter.
Exceptional tasting and hard fighting, grouper in Florida are most often found in deeper waters as these broad, heavyweights favor rocky bottoms, outcroppings and … First he's on the all new Andres Offshore 32 with Andres president Andy Eggebrecht, this is a sleek, purpose built sports craft, armed with all the electronic gadgets you could wish for and it soon gets them into an area teeming with a variety of big species. The grouper season in South Florida closes for four months on January 1, so time is running short to catch one of the hard-fighting, great-tasting fish.
Catching grouper, snapper, shook and triple tail, plus hunting hogs, on Florida’s unspoiled west coast. We’ve curated a list of some of our favorite Florida fishing spots to help you decide which place to check out next.
* Zero bag limit for captain and crew of for-hire vessels applies to gag, black, and red grouper only. So close that you giggle as a pod of dolphins plays in your bow wave in the Indian River Lagoon, near Stuart, Sebastian or Titusville.
The Forgotten Coast is home to an array of experienced captains who can take you out on a guided offshore fishing charter. Gulf Coast RV Resort is located in Levy County, with access to waters in the North Central region, among others.
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