Off-shore fishing is spectacular during the warm summer months, and one of the monster sized fish you may come across this time of year is grouper. These stubborn fish will give you a run for your money, but a worthy opponent they are and a satisfying catch for lots of delicious fresh fish dinners. Here is a closer look at this feisty fish and some tips on how to catch them.
Groupers are teleosts (they can protrude their jaws outwards from the mouth) and are part of the Mycteroperca family (bottom dwelling predators that enjoy anatomical features perfectly suited for strength and endurance). They have a stout body and large mouth and unlike other deep sea finds, they are not built for long-distance or fast swimming. They love rocky structures and dwell under coral ledges, within rock piles, wreckage from sunken ships, and debris. They favor the deep warm waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, making them a prime catch for offshore fishing in Venice, LA.
Grouper are ambush predators, which means they remain concealed until they are ready to engulf their prey. Once caught, they swallow their prey whole rather than biting in into smaller pieces. Just this past March in Florida, a grouper was reported to have swallowed a 4-foot shark in just one bite! They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. Their mouths and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans.
Basic Tips for Catching Grouper
Various fishing techniques such as trolling, drifting, etc. can be used for catching grouper, making it a very popular catch for sports fishing. Here are some tips to get you started…
- Fish with a sturdy rod, a reel that can crank a hard drag, and 80-pound test fishing line. Suggested live baits include pinfish, blue runners, cigar minnows, goggle eyes, and pilchards. Remember, the larger the bait, the larger the fish you will catch.
- Make sure to use a good sinker, a 3-foot 100 lb. lead, and large enough hook for the bait you plan to use.
- Whichever bait you prefer, cut it into smaller pieces so the smell will attract the grouper.
- Just after hooking a grouper, it may seem as if your line was snagged. What actually happened is the fish retreated into its hiding place. Let go of the line for a few seconds and the grouper will re-emerge so you can reel him in.
- A grouper is a feisty creature, so try to tire it out before bringing it into the boat as it may be very large and difficult to handle. Always use a gaff or net to lift it out of the water, and never bring it on board with a hook.