Jigging For Grouper

David Lawrence
• Wednesday, 27 October, 2021
• 16 min read

Randy fishes 8-ounce Mission Fishing jig heads with pink, chartreuse or glow curly tails. Randy targets “Swiss cheese” bottom, which is simply limestone rock formations with frequent sandy holes that give the appearance of a submerged dairy product.

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(Source: www.deepseafishingcancun.com)


Grouper take up residence in these holes and generally respond aggressively when a jig comes bouncing by their dwelling. Randy idles across the structure until he spots a show of fish on his bottom machine.

Randy advises dropping the jig/bait to the bottom and letting the boat’s drift move it along the structure. As the lure hops and drops into and out of the cheese holes, its buck tail skirt dances and pulsates to give the illusion of a living creature.

Swiss cheese bottom also attracts swarms of mangroves, lane and vermilion snapper. Keepers are a tasty bonus to the grouper routine, but mortar undersized bait steamers that often chew the tails off jigs.

This healthy red grouper couldn’t resist the tempting buck tail dropped to the bottom Randy is Vance Time, owner of Tight Lines Tackle in Tampa and founder of Brother Jigs.

Although specializing in Tampa Bay trolling, Vance is equally adept at offshore jigging. Very often, he said, jigs will outperform live bait and the fish you get are generally quality size.

grouper bait flounder jigging fishing
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

Vance figures the size of a jig and bait combination weeds out the little guys and appeals to grouper worth keeping. Grouper are reef-dwelling aggressive fish that are large and make a great addition to any outdoor grill.

Many lures on the market are developed to trick an aggressive predator like grouper. 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.

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(Source: www.delphfishing.com)

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.

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.

These are 3 of the best grouper lures which will make a great accessory for any tackle box. A large fish that is aggressive but will quickly bite down on a lure, is exciting to catch.

In addition, they taste great on the grill. Want to show your friends you can land a big fish? With one of the above grouper lures, you will be sure to catch a great tasting fish on your next outdoor adventure.

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(Source: www.thebassbarn.com)

When you know your favorite spot is holding them, but they are being finicky on baits, jigging can often be the ticket producing a reaction based strike that triggers their predatory instinct. Best places to jig for black, gag, red, and scamp grouper include hard bottom outcroppings, reefs, wrecks, oil rigs, and other structures that hold bait fish and provide hiding spots for ambushing their prey.

The Shaman Saragossa 8000 and 10000, Died Saltiest 5000, and Penn Slammer SLAIII6500 are all more than capable if you are just getting started. Black Hole Cape Cod Special 250g, Otis Fathom Blade 300g, and Shaman Arévalo 58XXH rods in both spinning and conventional models are all fantastic options that are super light weight with plenty of power and action to fool and whoop up on the best of them.

If you are using a buck tail, you can simply attach directly to the jig and avoid the rest of the terminal tackle. Otherwise, keep your jig at the bottom and reel in about 20-30’ towards the surface and then drop back down to stay in the strike zone longer.

The higher you get in the water column also increases the probability of hooking amber jack aka Reef Donkeys, king mackerel, and more. I've tried lots of jigs from shaman butterflies to Williamson, no hits.

If the Grouper are there, I found they will hit about anything as they are not picky but you cannot speed jig them. If the Grouper are there, I found they will hit about anything as they are not picky but you cannot speed jig them.

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(Source: www.thebassbarn.com)

That is not always true, last spring when hunting AJS we were speed jigging and had to move four times because we couldn't keep the gags and red snapper off our jigs speed jigging for AJS....(season was closed) I like the Bubble Parade V jigs for grouper and one of my favorite grouper jigs is the Hots Drift Tune in 80-200 g depending on the current and depth...in red and gold. These jigs fished slow styled will out fish live bait a lot of times, I have done it numerous times when everyone else is using bait.

The sharpies in that part of the world called them “gum drops” they have a different name officially. But, its what some pin hooking comes used, probably kept it secret from most at the time.

I think it all depends on how you work the jig iv bought Groupers with many tips of jigs. Also putting a small skirt on the assist hook helps a lot!! People have been doing well with Grouper on our Striker Tackle Flat Fall jigs.

My go to vertical jig is a Flat Side and on that I’ve caught them on glow, pink, blue and purple. Hammered and non-hammered Diamond jigs catch them as well.

They live on the reef surrounded by colorful fish and are opportunist feeders. Only reason I prefer glow is because it provides contrast when it stops glowing by providing a white Pinochet against dark water and structure.

grouper fishing bait gag jig surefire tactics summer hook
(Source: miamifishing.com)

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 using conventional tackle for grouper fishing can choose a reel with a level wind or one without.

Level winds are nice in that the line is spooled up evenly as it is retrieved. Many old school grouper fishing reels such as the venerable Penn 4/0 do not have a level wind.

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(Source: kayakanglermag.com)

Goliath grouper grow hundreds of pounds and requires special tackle. 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.

grouper setup jigging jig fishing diamond tuna
(Source: www.360tuna.com)

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.

Many anglers fishing in deep water use a very long leader, up to 20 feet and even longer. Anglers grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are required to use circle hooks.

The hook may look huge, but the important part is the distance between the tip and the shank. Standard short shank live bait hooks are also popular for grouper fishing as well.

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.

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(Source: drowningworms.com)

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.

grouper jigging setup jig tuna diamond fishing
(Source: www.360tuna.com)

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.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

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.

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.

grouper jigs suggestions fishing tuna jignpop
(Source: www.360tuna.com)

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.

grouper nc jigging jig diamond tomorrow nov fishing offshore
(Source: www.thebassbarn.com)

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.

“Sometimes it’s hard to grouper fish with Mali swimming around your boat, but our stretch of offshore reefs can give up some really quality gags and scamps this time of year, particularly on spots deeper than 120 feet,” he said. The rig consists of an egg sinker sliding on an 18-inch piece of 100-pound mono between two swivels.

A 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leads to a circle hook, with the size depending on the bait. “If I’m fishing for gags, my favorite bait is a live golden spot or a pinkish,” said Johnson.

Johnson prefers the slip sinker rig, because fooling big grouper is all about presentation. Keep the sinker pinned against the bottom swivel and at the first sign of panic in the bait, let him swim away from the weight unencumbered.

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(Source: forums.allcoast.com)

Johnson says he’d always prefer to hook his live spots, grunts, and pinkish behind the anal fin, but cautions that you have to consider the current. Red grouper are beautiful fish that can weight very heavy on the hook, even when caught in smaller sizes.

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. 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. If you want to catch red grouper with lures, best jerk baits and jigs are always a good call.

grouper monster jigging
(Source: www.youtube.com)

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. 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.

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1 www.seafoodshack.com - https://www.seafoodshack.com/grouper-black-better/
2 www.grouperfilletsupplier.com - https://www.grouperfilletsupplier.com/2018/03/is-grouper-good-for-you-learn-benefits.html
3 fishchoice.com - https://fishchoice.com/buying-guide/black-grouper
4 www.cuisinevault.com - https://www.cuisinevault.com/what-does-grouper-taste-like/