Ask any angler to list the fish types they love to catch the most; the one name such a list would surely feature is that of “grouper”. That’s possibly because there are not many fish types that make tastier grilled fish than groupers.
Groupers can be found in subtropical and tropical waters all around the globe; some of the most popular varieties of the fish are black groupers, gag, scamp, yellowmouth, and Nassau groupers. These members of the pieces family can be of various shapes and sizes and at times are extremely hard to pin down. However, if you know the right technique and have the right equipment, you shouldn’t find it difficult to catch groupers. In fact, you will find the job extremely enjoyable.
Due to the immense popularity the fish enjoys among anglers, people keep coming up with new and more innovative techniques of getting hold of them. Whatever might be the technique you follow for catching groupers there are some basic rules that must always be abided by. Read on to get acquainted to those rules and learn some useful tactics.
Locate the habitats of the fish
As a fishing enthusiast you must be aware of the fact that groupers are extremely fond of rocky underwater structures. As a result of being a member of the Mycteroperca family, these aquatic creatures are blessed with anatomical features required for showcasing enough endurance and strength required for surviving fights. Groupers are often referred to as ambush predators, a name they have earned due to their habit of remaining concealed till they are fully prepared for engulfing their prey. They build their nests inside rock piles, beneath coral ledges, and even within debris and sunken ships.
You shouldn’t find it difficult to spot their hideout. The only thing you would need to complete the job effortlessly is a trained, specialized eye for identifying fishable areas. You might get desired results by drifting for grouper; however, the easiest way of moving forward would be spotting the area boasting an extremely rocky bottom. You can also begin by anchoring just off the ledges and then check the region carefully
Groupers tend to thrive in uneven structures that hold baitfish. So, if you are looking to mark the fish at the bottom, you should be ready to come across a few bigger predators in that area. Groupers are unlikely to stay away from blue runners, cigar minnows, pinfish, goggle eyes, and pilchards for a long time; however, you would also have to learn how to present your grouper bait without being hindered by the rocky structure at the bottom.
When searching for bottom structures suitable for catching grouper, you should keep a careful eye on overhangs, rock piles, and sharp edges. For locating grouper, you can also fish shipwrecks; but in such cases you will be at risk of losing the fish due to the uneven and rusty steel structures. So, experts often describe coral ledges and rock piles as the most ideal places to locate these fish. For best results i.e. for getting hold of a large group of groupers, you should focus around 100 to 150 ft over the coral laden or rocky bottoms.
Make sure you have the right set of equipment
To date, anglers have come up with various kinds of grouper rigs. Mostly it’s a knocker, a finder, or a three way swivel-based rig. Ideally, you shouldn’t use anything less than an 80 pound leader for fishing 60 pound braids. It’s true that on most occasions you will not face any issue even if you opt for a 60 pound fluorocarbon. However, we would still recommend the 80 pound option as when pulling groupers from the bottom, it would be wiser to stay over prepared than leaving home under prepared.
Groupers have the habit of diving for cover instantly after being hooked. This means as an angler you will need to have a gear that would successfully prevent the creature from escaping without damaging the line. This prerequisite automatically forces anglers to use heavy leader and main line and sturdy hooks that would not straighten out even when put under excessive pressure. However, what is even more vital here is remembering that it is mandatory to have a rod and reel when trying to catch groupers. Anglers must have immense stopping power for catching large groupers; they should be perfectly equipped to come up with a mighty drag that can effectively stop a fish from running away and hiding in its nest. The reel and rod would provide them with that kind of stopping power.
For maximizing your drag power, you must ideally buy or rent a high quality and conventional reel. When it comes to the rod, you should opt for a piece that’s highly durable and stout. Make sure the rod is designed for taking part in 30-50 pound class fishing. It would also not be a bad idea to opt for a heavier unit; however, don’t commit the mistake of going overboard and arriving with your tuna stick. Just bring a rod that’s strong enough to fight the groupers and hoist them seamlessly without interfering with the bottom structure.
Try out grouper trolling
Grouper trolling is one of the most popular tactics employed by anglers looking to catch a big grouper on a comparativelyshallow patch reef. It should be enough for you to use a 50 pound trolling outfit for getting the desired results. If you want to accomplish your goal without much ado, make sure you are using a sturdy 25 ft shock leader. When practicing grouper trolling, you can use lures like Rapala Magnums, Yo-Zuris, and so on. Always go for the largest available sizes when buying the baits.
We would advise you to use just a single rod when practicing grouper trolling. However, if you are sure that you would be able to position the plugs far away from each other and avoid wrapping up and snagging of the lines successfully, you can definitely use multiple rods. The only other factor that can compel you to opt for multiple rods is your excessively adventurous nature.
Surveys conducted in different parts of the globe have revealed that the majority of the anglers troll between 20ft and 30ft of water along the targeted patch reefs. Along the way, these people need to work the sand surrounding the rocks/reefs (this means you would also need equipment designed for moving sand underneath water bodies).
When trolling, your aim should be allowing the lure only to graze the bottom. It (the lure) should keep swimming as close to the underwater sand as possible. It can surely bump the bottom from time to time, but should never get completely hung up. So, as an angler, you should make sure that you are not trolling too close to the sand or rocks; if you fail to do so your chances of losing the lure would be high.
Groupers are known for having excellent vision; this provides them with the ability to quickly rush and grab plugs. Ideally, you should hover at a distance of 15 ft or less from the rocks. For desired results, it’s also extremely crucial that you cover maximum possible area. Typically, you should keep trolling at five to seven knots. A great thing about grouper trolling is that you are unlikely to confuse a regular pull or snag with a grouper bite. As groupers eat aggressively, their bite can be identified pretty easily.
When waiting for the grouper to eat the lure, you should not forget to keep your boat in the right gear. This would allow you to leave the place the moment your job is accomplished. Doing so is mandatory to win your fight with the fish.
Trolling is one of the most widely used alternatives to bottom fishing when it comes to catching groupers. You should use this method particularly when there’s slow current or there’s little possibility of getting a reef bite. One thing that must be noted here is that this process is slightly more expensive because of the higher fuel costs. However, you will be compensated well for the additional expenditure as the method would surely allow you to catch multiple groupers.
Pick the right baitfish
Whether or not you will be successful in catching grouper depends a lot on the kinds of baitfish you have chosen. In this field, it’s actually mandatory to pick the right bait for being successful. We all know that the best results are usually obtained by using live grouper bait. However, it’s also true that many anglers keep catching fish just by using dead baits such as sardines and ballyhoo. Whatever might be your preference it’s important for you to know that there’s no better option than an injured and panicking baitfish.
When setting out for a trip for catching groupers, make sure your collection only includes baits that would lure the fish. Luckily, you will be spoilt for options when looking for the right bait for groupers. The ones that you should pick from the available options include big pilchards, goggle eyes, and pinfish (they make great choices during the summertime).
If any of the above options are not available, you can substitute them with blue runners or grunts.
Don’t forget to bridle the bottom baits. Doing so is necessary as groupers typically engulf the prey instead of biting it. Bridled baits tend to set more effectively inside the oral cavity of a large fish, which successfully prevents the hook from getting detached from the bait even if the impact is too harsh.
Additional tips for catching grouper
During the winter months i.e. when the waters get colder, fish like grouper tend to reside in shallow waters. So, ideally, you should fish nearshore when looking to catch groupers in winter. However, during summer months going offshore is a must. Groupers start moving offshore the moment springtime arrives and the temperature starts rising.
However, here, it must be noted that some species like Black groupers tend to love spending time in the shallow waters almost all through the year. As mentioned above, groupers tend to travel extremely close to the shore when the water temperature drops during winter. This often forces them to enter the residential canals and channels. So, if you are lucky, you may get hold of a few of these fish even inside residential docks (use live sardines and mullets as bait). Use frozen squids and sardines for alluring small species of groupers. These smaller fish would quickly engulf those frozen baits and disperse the leftovers in the water. Those leftovers have been found to turn the bigger groupers on. Once those big fish are turned on, drop a live pinfish or grunt into the water so that they can bite it and you can get hold of bigger groupers. You can use both artificial and natural lures when trolling. This means you will not need to waste time looking for a particular kind of bait when looking to troll groupers. Don’t hesitate to use heavy tackles. This would not allow your efforts for catching groupers go in vain. In other words, it would ensure that you can keep the fish successfully with you after getting hold of it once. When trolling, you must always use monofilament line. The main reason behind this recommendation is the line’s ability to stretch.
The tips and tactics discussed above must make you a better-equipped and better-informed angler, particularly if you arelooking to catch groupers. However, for desired results you will have to put in more effort and become a skilled grouper angler. Carry out further research to gather knowledge about grouper species found in the waters in your area. Then, find out what kind of baits would lure those species most easily.
Arrange the baits and set out for fishing. Apply all the techniques discussed in this article. Initially, you might face a few hurdled. However, with time, you will gain confidence and gradually see yourself turn into an expert angler.