[feature photo: Black Grouper - Bowed Up Fishing Charters, Islamorada, Florida]
Grouper fishing in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World is one of those satisfying endeavors fishermen live for. Catching one of these monsters is akin to stepping in the ring with a prizefighter. Marlin are ambush predators, so their strikes are hard and fast, and you have to be ready to handle it.
An Islamorada fishing charter is your best bet in locating grouper
Islamorada fishing guides know the waters around this sports fishing haven just off the southern tip of Florida as well as they know the backs of the hands. And because grouper are commonly found near rocky structures in deep water, it pays to know where their favorite hideouts are.
Grouper make their home under coral ledges, in and around sea wreckage, and within rock piles. They are ambush predators, hiding until they are ready to go after their prey.
Best time of year to fish for grouper in Islamorada
Grouper season opens May 1 in the Keys and runs through January 1. Most grouper spawn between January and May. Most grouper species are protogynous hermaphrodites—born as females but can later become male.
Best tackle to use when fishing for grouper
You'll want to use a 6' or 7' heavy duty rod with a 30-60 lb. class reel. Heavy monofilament line or braided line is best. One of the many benefits of hiring an Islamorada fishing charter is that they provide the bait and tackle you'll need.
Best bait to use when fishing for grouper
Live bait such as pinfish are ideal. Frozen baits such as squid and sardines are other good choices. Artificial lures can be successful in catching groupers--specifically the shallow water species. The most effective of these lures are the deep diving plugs and lures.
Reeling in a grouper
Once you've hooked one of these fighters, your sole mission is to keep him from diving back down to his hideout. Grouper will fight you every step of the way as you try to pull and drag him up from the dark depths of the ocean floor.
If the grouper manages to make it back to his rocky lair, you might be tempted to cut the line and try again. But sometimes it works to give the fish a loose line for as long as 30 minutes to allow the fish to relax and possibly swim out from under the structure. It has worked for many anglers on more than one occasion.
A word to the wise: be sure to take all precautions to maintain your balance so that you won't be jerked or pulled overboard by one of these fighters.
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