by Capt. Butch Foster
Grouper, prized by many as one of the best eating fish in the ocean can often be hard to catch, but with a few hints of the trade, you may also be able to add them to your menu.
The first order of business, if you are very serious about Grouper fishing, is obtaining bait. Always put some frozen cigar minnows in the cooler, just in case live bait has disappeared that morning. Live bait is very attractive to a big grouper and he can hardly resist them! I prefer to stop on the offshore buoys and use a #12 Sibiki rig and jig up live cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, greenies, etc.
Now I am not saying live bait is the only thing they will bite, I am just saying it is usually the best. However, I have seen days when all they would hit was cut bait. Guess they are like us, we like hotdogs, but not all the time!
Now, pay attention to the way the current is running. Let us say the current is running to the West, this will be the direction you will want to travel especially if looking for ledges.
You will want to look for drops (ledges) that drop off from hi to low, not low to hi. The drop from hi to low will provide a current break on the drop, if you see some fish markings here, you may be in business. Same goes for rocks, fish the down current side.
Only way to tell is to anchor up and find out. You must anchor up on the drop, ledge, rock, etc; in this fishing, close usually will not get the job done!!!
A good “stand up” rod in the 80 lb. class makes a good grouper rod. As for the reel, you can do just fine with a Penn 114 (6/0), but, if you have access to a heavy two-speed reel, that is even better, but the best of all is an electric reel. I personally like the Precision Auto Reels spooled with 80 to 100 lb. line.
The rig I like best is the “Carolina” style, which consist of an egg weight, swivel, heavy 150 to 200 lb. leader and a large 10/0 circle hook. The heavy leader is for strength, but more importantly is the abrasion resistant because of the areas where big grouper live.
When that big grouper bite does come, you have to get him up and away from the rocks. Crank for all you’re worth! If you work the “set the hook” style of fishing, and lower the rod before you start cranking, well, that grouper just taught you lesson #1 in what not to do!
I like to hit my good rocks about once a year. I am not saying my way is the best way, it just works for me. I have to produce fish; it is what I do for a living! Put your time in; ask questions, pay attention to the little details, experiment and soon you too will find what works best for you.
I hope this will help you catch more grouper in the future and if you don’t get a bite your next trip out, then you will know why it’s called fishin’ and not catchin’, but it’s still better than a good day at work!
Check back in the next issue of Pilot. We will be featuring another species and tips to help you catch more fish!
Capt Butch Foster from Southport, NC has fished offshore for over 40 years. In 2004, he started YEAH RIGHT CHARTERS and has worked hard to show others how much fun offshore fishing can be. He does seminars during the winter months across the region and has been featured in many outdoor magazines, newspapers, and books. He maintains the Yeah Rights Charters website, www.yeahrightcharters.com, by posting reports of how fishing really is off the coast. His hard work and willingness to teach others have helped him earn recognition as “the charter service fishermen prefer and locals recommend.”