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How To Catch Red Grouper

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Friday, 09 October, 2020
• 8 min read

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.

grouper gulf mexico catch
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Contents

Overall light or rusty red with whitish spots and large blotches. No black mark on caudal peduncle fleshy area between tail and posterior dorsal fin.

Although Reds will “hole up” like other Groupers, many are hooked on light and fairly light tackle in areas where cover is well scattered, and this gives them the chance to demonstrate their toughness to best advantage. TACKLE AND BAITS: The standard tackle is a boat outfit with 40-pound line or more, but heavy spinning and bait casting tackle with 15- or 20-pound line can easily do the job in water less than 100 feet deep.

Reds will hit all the baits and lures recommended for Gag and other Groupers, but they are also very fond of crustacean baits, particularly shrimp and crab. They are ready strikers on Deadhead jigs, fished with light tackle.

HABITAT: Widely distributed from close inshore in many areas of Florida to ledges and wrecks in up to 300 or so feet of water. Great majority of sport catches are made in 10-100 feet.

Key Colony Beach Red Grouper

Red grouper are beautiful fish that can weight very heavy on the hook, even when caught in smaller sizes.

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They’re tough predators, can put quite a fight and can provide the angler with a lot of thrills. 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 you can 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 you can. 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.

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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. Miles of mangroves and pristine waterways lead to the Gulf of Mexico where the saltwater fishing for red grouper can be as sizzling hot as the summer temperatures.

One can pretty well set a clock by the afternoon thunderstorms in this area, but they serve to cool down the atmosphere enough for the natural world to come alive before sunset. Riding two hours from port into the Gulf of Mexico to reach the fishing grounds, Captain Rick Polio positions the 35-foot vessel over a live bottom area before anchoring the boat.

Once a bite is felt, any hesitation by the angler gives the fish an advantage, since it will move into the underwater structure and cause the line to part. If the rod is doubled over, anglers can bend their knees and use their body to generate more upward force, moving the fish away from any rocky outcrops.

grouper
(Source: www.youtube.com)

The season on Regrouped in Florida is year-round, but the limit to keep is two fish per person, and they must measure 20-inches in total length or be returned to the estuary. The coloration of the red grouper make it a compelling species to photograph, with a brownish- red body that is accented by irregular white blotches that serve as underwater camouflage.

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.

They engulf prey whole by opening their large mouths, dilating their gill covers, rapidly drawing in a current of water, and inhaling the food. 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. Annual catch limits are used for red grouper in the commercial and recreational fisheries.

These fisheries are closed when their annual catch limit is projected to be met. Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper.

grouper gulf mexico catch bite
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

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.

Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers. Whether red, gag, black, yellow fin, or Warsaw, a good grouper in the ice chest means a successful day for lots of folks.

Some species of grouper range from New England to southern Brazil and Texas. 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.

Grouper will chase a bait occasionally, but by far they prefer to ambush their prey. 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 florida sportsman offshore
(Source: www.floridasportsman.com)

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. 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.

grouper florida morio epinephelus catch
(Source: www.floridasportsman.com)

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.

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Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_grouper
2 thefishsite.com - https://thefishsite.com/articles/copepods-the-live-feed-that-could-revolutionise-grouper-aquaculture-nutrition
3 reefspecies.com - https://reefspecies.com/moalboal/species/coral-grouper/
4 www.whatsthatfish.com - https://www.whatsthatfish.com/fish/coral-grouper/158
5 www.saltcorner.com - http://www.saltcorner.com/AquariumLibrary/browsespecies.php
6 www.publish.csiro.au - https://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/CrossrefCites/MF09056
7 animal-world.com - https://animal-world.com/encyclo/marine/groupers/miniatus.php
8 www.fishbase.se - https://www.fishbase.se/summary/6465