Grouper rank among the most sought-after species of fish in the Atlantic Ocean. They can reach up to 8 feet in length and can weigh as much as 800 pounds, with colors that change to camouflage them against the background.
If you think catching one is easy, think again.
They are known for being a challenge to even the most experienced angler. Because of this, grouper fishing continues to grow in popularity every year.
Let’s take a look at a few things about this trophy fish that you probably never knew.
Your Ultimate Guide to Grouper Fishing
Grouper is one of the most popular types of sporting fish. Here’s your guide to finding and catching them, and the type gear you will need.
Where to Find Them During Winter
Fishing for grouper is never a walk in the park, but when the temperature drops, many fish head toward the shallow water close to shore. You can use this to your advantage, catching more fish while saving gas.
As the fish migrate closer to shore, they often find their way into residential canals, making them easy targets for crafty anglers. This is a great time to fish from docks, using sardines or live mullet and tightening up the drag on your reel. We suggest holding on tight and get ready for some serious action!
Where to Find Them During Summer
When spring arrives and the water warms up heading into summer, those same fish that had spent the colder months in the shallow begin moving back offshore toward deep water. Yet unlike many species that hurry offshore into the deep, grouper can often still be caught in the shallows.
Grouper Require Heavy Tackle
With a conventional grouper rig, the reel sits on top of the grouper rod so that most of the pressure is put on the rod. Then the line is wound the same direction that it goes out, offering the angler better leverage. And you’re going to need all the leverage you can get to land a big grouper.
Never forget that grouper are big fish that put up a fight. Once hooked, they love to run and are easy to lose. They head to ledges and holes, seeking to shake the hook or snap your line.
This means you’d better use heavy tackle. If plan to muscle a big fish, you’ll want to gear up with a stout rod and reel, and use an 80 to 100 pound mainline. Anything less and you’ll risk losing whatever you hook.
When to Use Chum
Using chum is part of the seduction of catching grouper.
The experts use frozen squid or sardines as chum. And as smaller fish chew it up and disperse their leftovers into the water, the larger grouper get stirred up and ready to feed. At this point, you’re ready to follow up the chum by dropping a live pinfish or grunt to attract the larger fish.
Chumming works especially well when you’re anchored and bottom-fishing because the chum is drawing the grouper away from holes. Yet it’s not going to be as successful when you’re fishing close to a reef because they will go back into holes where they are more likely to break off.
Many people have a lot of success trolling.
One reason for this is you can cover a lot of ground quickly, giving yourself a better chance of hooking a large grouper. A second reason is that the fish have to come out of the holes to take the bait.
Just don’t get in a hurry. Take it slow. You won’t want to move faster than two knots because you don’t want to outrun the fish. Give them a chance to catch up and take your bait.
What Kind of Bait to Use When Trolling
When trolling for grouper, you can use either natural or artificial bait. Lures that are designed to dive to depths of 30 or 40 feet will typically catch a lot of fish.
When you’re trolling slowly over ledges and shallow reefs, these artificial deep-water baits work great. But when you’re using natural bait, planars and downriggers are better tools for getting your bait as deep as possible.
What Type of Line to Use When Trolling
Anglers love to debate their gear. Everyone has their one preferences and beliefs about what works best. That being said, if you’re going to fish for grouper you’d better choose a line that can handle a big fish that will put up a fight.
Monofilament line is the best line for trolling for grouper because it is able to stretch. And because you’ll typically be trolling in depths of 60 feet or more, monofilament allows you to set the hook yet still stretch enough so that you don’t end up cutting the fish’s mouth when it strikes your moving bait.
Monofilament is strong yet forgiving, making it the perfect line for trolling.
What Type of Line to Use When Bottom Fishing
The great advantage of braided line is sensitivity. Using a line that offers greater sensitivity is important when bottom fishing because you’ll be working depths of around 160 feet. That’s a lot of line, and you’ll need to be able to feel a strike when something hits your bait.
Keep in mind that because braided line is thicker, it’s more visible in the water. You’ll need to use a leader that is four to six feet long and clear so that you don’t spook any fish. Leaders are typically made of either monofilament or fluorocarbon, and either material will work fine.
The Keys to Catching Grouper
Grouper is a great species of sport fish, and grouper fishing is a true thrill that anglers of any age can appreciate. But to be successful you’ll need the right gear and to use the best bait for grouper.
Most anglers love a good challenge, and few other sport fish offer a bigger challenge. Whether you prefer fishing in the heat of summer or in the winter chill, grouper provide an awesome time on the water!
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