Grouper Fishing in Florida
There are a large variety of Grouper species belonging to the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae, and this includes sea basses. These exceptionally delicious fish are powerful and not known for speed. They are found inhabiting all of the tropical coral reefs in southern Florida and wrecks, ridges and reefs north of Florida. Various species are caught throughout the world but those we talk about are spread from New England through to Brazil.
Grouper are incredibly easy to identify. Stocky bodies combined with large mouths that have massive tooth plates in place of teeth make them extremely unique. These plates, along with their phenomenally powerful gills, are used to burrow deep into the sand at the bottom of the ocean, as well as for crushing their prey – which can be sucked into their mouths from a fair distance. Once caught, prey is sucked dry and then swallowed whole. These extraordinary fish can grow into massive giants, depending on the species. Many exceed a metre in length and weigh over 100lbs with ease.
Although there are a number of ways to catch Grouper, it is important to remember that they are bottom feeders. This means that the best results come from dropping bait to the ocean floor. These fish will dart out of their overhanging rocks and burrows, take the bait and quickly return to where they came from. Many anglers lose their catch due to the fact that they are able to expand their gills and effectively lock themselves in small spaces. They are exceptional fighters and anglers battle to reel them in from the ocean floor. We go bottom-fishing to catch these beasts, although there is much success when trolling in the Gulf of Mexico as well. Here are some things to consider when going Grouper fishing in Florida:
Tackle for Grouper
You will need a quality rod and reel, 50lbs monofilament line, sinker, egg slider, leader and hook arranged into a fish finder rig or live bait rig. For trolling, magnum diving plugs for a depth of thirty feet or more are also needed.
Bait for Grouper
Grouper are cooperative and not at all fussy. Small pinfish are ideal, live or frozen. Skipjacks, shrimps and other smaller fish work well too. If there is a Grouper in the area, it will usually bite quickly. If you have been there for thirty minutes and had no bites then it is time to fish elsewhere.
Techniques for Grouper
There are basically three ways that you can catch Grouper. They are straight bottom-fishing, free lining live bait and slow trolling. Pretty standard fare for any bottom fish, but the secret to catching Grouper lies in how you handle the strike. This is how these techniques work:
- When bottom –fishing, the bait is attached to a fish finder rig that is literally dropped straight down. This rig is the best because it seldom hangs up and is preferable for most charter captains.
- More serious anglers will use a live bait rig, which also works well. Free lining live bait involves a longer leader for the bait to swim more freely, appearing natural. An egg slider is necessary to prevent the fish from feeling the weight of the sinker. Due to the long leader, Grouper have more space and time to get back into their overhangs, forcing anglers to quickly perfect their drag to prevent them getting stuck there and being lost.
- The Gulf of Mexico has numerous artificial reefs, ridges, ledges and rocks. Anglers slow troll around and over these structures. This method works well in these waters because they are relatively shallow. Another variation on this technique is to use Monel wire line, trolling feathers and weights. This is popular in winter when Black Grouper move into the shallower reefs, although the rig is cumbersome and heavy. When a strike occurs, the boat instantly moves away to pull the Grouper from its hole. Fish are certainly caught this way but the angler loses the thrill of the struggle, which is a sad state of affairs.
Call today to book your Grouper Fishing Charter in Florida and delight in the fight.