The most effective method is trolling slowly over their prime habitat or reef area, because their instincts naturally tell them to chase their prey and make a quick bite. Grouper lures are more effective than bait because the fish like to stay close to their reef home.
That is because they are predators that love the chase and catch the action of a fish in the water. This ideal grouper lure for deep trolling whether you are inland or way offshore can reach depths up to 30 feet and speeds of 13 knots.
The transparent design with an internal cast system means that you will throw it a good distance. Corrosion resistant parts mean it will endure through lots of fishing trips and use.
Since early 1952, Salas jigs have been helping fisherman catch albacore, perch, and grouper. This jig is a popular seller, because it really works to hook those big grouper fish.
With 7 times the light and a 3/0 hook size, you are sure to land some big grouper with this great lure from Salas. For over 50 years, Your has been making quality lures in Japan and shipping all over the world.
Their advanced technology means they lead the industry in products that are among the best in artificial baits in the country. Your Crystal Minnows have a bright holographic finish that reflects light and attracts big game fish even in murky or unclear waters.
Whether you are using a stop and go or steady retrieval, these minnow lures from Your get the job done when it comes to catching big grouper. Whether you are using a stop and go or steady retrieval, these minnow lures from Your get the job done when it comes to catching big grouper.
With one of the above grouper lures, you will be sure to catch a great tasting fish on your next outdoor adventure. They are found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and points south.
While they are a powerful fish that puts up a strong battle, grouper are prized by many anglers for their flaky white fillets! 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. Reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, areas of rocky bottom, and ledges are the top spots where anglers catch grouper in open water.
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.
With this outfit, anglers can cast lures and live baits towards structure as well as have a decent chance of landing a big fish that might be hooked when bottom fishing. In water much deeper than 50 feet, conventional outfits are simply a better choice.
While the initial cost is higher, braided line last much longer than monofilament. 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.
The weight is generally placed on the running line ahead of the swivel that attaches the leader. However, there is another rig that works very well for grouper fishing, particularly in water shallower than 100 feet.
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.
Many a large Goliath grouper has surprised an angler casting to the mangroves for shook or redfish. This is because grouper like to live near the bottom close to underwater structures like rocks and wrecks.
The Your Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Trolling Lure is a great option when trolling for grouper (and other saltwater fish like Spanish mackerel) as it’s realistic 3D eyes mimic an actual bait fish’s eyes. The X-Rap has been a trolling favorite for years and works well for many species (like halibut, lake trout, and more) of fish besides just grouper.
If you find grouper that are close to shore or in shallow water, your best bet for a trolling lure is the Papal Shadow Rap Shad Shallow Trolling Lure. These lures look and feel more like the fish grouper are used to eating, and are an excellent choice for trolling.
The rubber tail’s action imitates a frantic bait fish trying to escape a hungry grouper. The rubber tail flutters in the water at all speeds and mimics a scared shrimp or shad.
Grouper love feeding on both small crustaceans/bait fish and find the Each Fat Swing Impact Rubber Shad irresistible. If you aren’t getting any bites on your soft plastic lures or the diving plugs, we recommend trying out a fishing classic: metal spoons.
Metal spoons imitate sardines, mackerel, and other small shiny fish that grouper like to eat. These chrome-covered spoons have been catching many types of fish for years, including grouper.
They have a simple action that when trolled with a down rigger looks like a small bait fish that has been separated from its school. It has a more aggressive action than the Clark spoon which can entice reclusive grouper from where their hiding in underwater structure.
The Huntington Stainless Steel Drone Spoon works for many saltwater species (such as smaller yellow fin tuna and bonito) along with grouper, so it’s a solid addition to any tackle box. Keep in mind that we typically fish for grouper in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, so these are the species common to those areas.
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 is structure and bait fish nearby.
You usually won’t catch Goliath groupers while trolling because they live in deeper waters and go after larger bait. While this can make figuring out where to fish for them easy, you need to be extra aware of your lure depth and how fast you’re trolling.
This might seem counter-intuitive when trolling, but you don’t want to give a hooked grouper any chance to swim back into the cover it darted out from. If it gets back to the hole it lives in, chances are your line will scrape against the rocks and snap.
A tight drag will not only prevent this but also act to set the hook with the movement of the boat. Some grouper grow to over 500 lbs, and can often be caught with a simple hook and sinker style rig.
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.
Trolling for Grouper is not a common method known to many fishermen, however it is extremely productive and can also be employed when the wind is blowing hard making it rough offshore, but inside on the reef it is nearly flat. This is a great way to make what might be a “weather day” in the Bahamas very productive and fun.
Start with preferably Dacron or braided line, with second choice being wire, and third monofilament. The more flexible the rod, the better to take shock on strike and to keep from pulling hooks.
Rig a 50' 250lb mono (trace) leader behind each sinker with a heavy duty snap swivel. Connect your favorite Tormented lure with a 6' wire leader (as Yahoo & Judas love this rig too) to the snap at the end of the 250lb mono trace.
Let your line out steadily applying pressure to the spool with your (glove protected) hand. Let it out quickly but not too fast until you feel the lead hit the bottom and then lock the drag up IMMEDIATELY.
Troll STRAIGHT with only SLIGHT turns as you are dragging your lure only feet above the reef bottom. Any turn will allow your lead and lure to sink and probably (not possibly) hang the reef.
After you have pulled the fish a bit, you might be able to back the throttle to idle but STAY IN GEAR! Pump and reel (giving ZERO slack) until you see the fish on or near the surface behind the boat.
At this time, if needed, you can pull the boat out of gear as long as your angler will not slack the line. Grab the leader when you get the sinker to the tip and ease your Grouper to the boat where you should have your favorite gaff handy.
Sidebar: On my very first captain's job when I was 19, getting ready to fish the Bacardi Tournament in 1979, the marlin fishing was slow, so I gave my mate the wheel, and went to the pit to make up these really strange rigs (strange to everyone else on the boat anyway). It was around 3:00 in the afternoon when we (I) deployed these rigs and climbed back to the bridge.
I yelled to the mate to reel up the second line quickly as my Boss Lady wasn't pulling very hard and I would need to slow down. “It's a rock” she said (repeatedly), I kept telling her it wasn't until she stopped reeling and the fish found a nice hole to wedge itself into.
I had schooled my skeptical mate on what to do when he got the leader (beat the grouper's head against the rock until he gives up). Well, he wasn't even going to try it seems, but lucky for him, the fish felt some slack and swam out of the hole.
Add to Cart Ship to Address These large fish are typically caught in the two to 12-pound range, though they can be found up to 20-30 pounds.
You can find them along the East Coast of the Americas from Brazil through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to as far north as New England. Juvenile fish take shelter on the inshore glass flats and shoals until they mature.
During most of the year, mature gag grouper like to hide around any type of structure that can give them shelter. They can be found in ledges and holes and love to populate offshore reefs and shipwrecks.
As winter approaches, a massive migration of gags head for the warmer protection of the inner shores, especially within the Gulf of Mexico, to spawn. During the late fall and early winter, they’ll show up a few miles off the shoreline along with Spanish mackerel, king fish, speckled trout, blacktop and spinner sharks that are chasing the schools of bunker and herring close to the beaches.
Many anglers catch lots of gags on spinning and plug tackle, but live bait tends to be the best option. By law, you’re required to use a circle hook when bottom fishing in much of Florida’s cost, including the Gulf of Mexico.
When hooked, these are very powerful fish that want nothing more than to run back into a hole or ledge and take you with them. You’ll need to have heavy gear with you to prevent the fish from taking your line.
Most anglers crank the drag on their reel down all the way to prevent the fish from reaching a hole. This is where the grouper will run into a hole or under a ledge and spread its gills locking itself in place.
To prevent that, keep the drag tightened so it’s almost impossible to pull line off of the spool. Keep your rod held low so you can immediately lift it as soon as the fish strikes, turning it away from the rocks.
Start to cautiously reel in all slack to the point that your rod is low to the water and tight to the fish. I am currently on the field staff team for Penn Reels from Pure Fishing.
In the past I’ve had sponsorships from Died, Bull buster, Eagle Claw, and I’m currently helping promote Mons ta fishing apparel. Plenty of anglers try tackling big bottom dwelling fish with poor results.
Shipwrecks, ledges and rock piles are marked on modern GPS chart plotters. Don’t make the figurative mistake of bringing a knife to a gun fight when looking to catch big amber jack or grouper off a ship wreck.
These fish will try and get back into the structure, whether it's a coral head, rock ledge, or shipwreck. Here's a great site, FloridaGoFishing lists wrecks in Florida by county with depth, description and GPS coordinates.
Almost all the big groupers we catch off Miami already have a few hooks in their mouths… These fish are capable of hard runs, often right back into the wreck to cut you off. Keep in mind that in Miami it’s necessary to use heavy tackle due to the large and aggressive shark population around the many of the wrecks.
The majority of black grouper we catch have hooks with 20-30 lb line attached stuck in their lips. Choice baits include large blue runners, goggle eyes, speeds and pinkish.
For more information on black grouper or amber jack, click the links to our species profile pages. Also feel free to check out our article on Miami Wreck Fishing to see the best time of year for targeting different species.
1 At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, silver trout, sleepyhead, bonnet head sharks and a few mangrove snapper were caught over the weekend. Sleepyhead are also biting around the pilings, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
2 At Madeira Beach, the nearshore dogfish bite is very good in water 30- to 80-feet deep. Black fin tuna numbers are increasing past 110 feet for the pelagic anglers, reports Capt.
4 At Fort De Soto Park, sleepyhead are thick at the marina and the bridge. Whiting, silver trout and some pompano are biting in Ounces Pass, reports Capt.
Free lined pinkish over shallow structure and the reefs have been producing fish in the 25- to 30-inch range, reports Capt. The gag grouper bite remains strong around the rock piles and ledges in the 14 to 25-foot range and also deeper along the shipping channel.
The pompano bite has been very good around Terra Can and Anna Maria Sound, reports Hunter. 7 At St. Petersburg, gag grouper are biting along the shipping channel from Port Manatee to the Skyway and on the artificial reefs in the bay.
Pinellas Point is good for trout on the deeper grass flats and cuts. Weldon Island is still holding some shook and good numbers of redfish, trout and sleepyhead, reports Mastery’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
8 In the north end of Tampa Bay, sleepyhead have moved in thick on most structure, the reefs and around the bridges. A few redfish are biting around the Andy and Weldon Island area, but there’s better numbers in the upper bay.
Some cobias is biting around the markers and areas with warm water runoff, reports Andy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551). Fresh dead or live shrimp are the best bait and if the grass porgies starting biting, it's time to move to a new spot, reports Capt.
• At Fort Pierce, the offshore bottom bite at 80 feet is steady for lane snapper with a few buttons and mangroves mixed in. Spanish mackerel are biting in 30 feet of water to the north around the Very Cove.
Sleepyhead, black drum and sand perch are active inside the inlet and around the bridges, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).