Grouper Fishing in Florida: Tips from a Captain

Are you ready to catch some impressive grouper in Florida? With year-round fishing in the west-central region, you can reel in these giants by following tips from an experienced charter captain. Learn about different grouper species, effective baits, and key fishing techniques. Make sure to check local regulations and have the necessary fishing license.

Don't miss out on this exciting fishing adventure!

Man on a boat holding a large grouper fish, showcasing a successful catch while grouper fishing in Florida with the ocean in the background

What is a grouper fish?

Grouper is a common Florida fish specie and can be found along the Atlantic coast. Florida groupers are large bottom fish that live on reef ledges, cracks, and caves and they tend to be structured-oriented fish.

Some grouper species commonly found in the west-central region of Florida are red grouper, gag grouper, goliath grouper, gag grouper, yellowedge grouper, Nassau grouper, red grouper, and black grouper. The most popular grouper targeted in the central Florida region is the red and gag grouper.

A grouper's diet consists of crabs, squid, octopus, and baitfish such as pinfish, threadfins, and sardines. All of these can be used to catch Florida grouper.

Have you ever heard of the Goliath Grouper? Goliath grouper is one of the grouper species that can weigh up to 360 kg and are mainly found in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Check out our grouper fishing trips in St. Pete's beach here!

Man on a boat holding a large grouper fish, showcasing a successful catch while grouper fishing in Florida with the ocean in the background.

Grouper fishing in Florida: how do groupers catch prey?

Groupers are reef fish and inshore species that will lie and wait to hunt for food, then ambush its prey violently by opening its mouth and sucking it in.

Learn more about Florida saltwater fishing license

What to know before heading out to grouper fishing in Florida

Research the area you're going to be fishing in and make sure it's legal for grouper to be harvested before heading out!

If you have trouble catching grouper, try using frozen squid, octopus, or crab as they can't fight back and a dead stink bait is an easier option at times for ambush predators such as groupers.

Use live bait on a fish finder rig which is a 4-8oz sinker with about 3ft of 40-80lb floro carbon leader and a 6/0 to 9/0 circle hook

Lastly, don't forget your fishing license before heading out for Florida grouper fishing. Using a fishing charter for grouper fishing should already provide you with this, however.

Learn about the Florida saltwater fishing regulations 2023, to stay current on which groupers are legal to catch.

How do you catch a Grouper in Florida?

When fishing for grouper, you can use different techniques to catch them.

The most popular technique used by fishermen is bottom fishing with a heavy rod and reel.

There are other ways that people like to fish, though! You could try trolling or free lining a live pinfish when shallow and groupers also love a vertical and or slow pitch jig.

Bottom fishing for grouper is the most popular technique used by fishermen in Florida, and all you need to do is set up your bait, wait until a Grouper arrives at the spot, then reel in quickly with a firm grip on you rod and let the upward momentum of the hook penetrate their mouth and set the hook.

After you have a grouper interested in your bait, lift your rod tip and just start reeling to set the hook and hold on! 

Be careful not to yank the rod, like you would when catching bass. This technique generally will not have any effect, and usually, all it accomplishes is yanking the bait out of the grouper’s mouth the preferred technique is to just reel fast to drive the hook in.

Check those tips on how to store your freshly caught groupers!

What are the specific baits that are most effective for each of the grouper species mentioned?

Red Grouper: Live pinfish, grunts (pigfish), and squirrelfish (redsquirrel). Red grouper also respond well to frozen squid, cigar minnows, and Spanish sardines.

Gag Grouper: These groupers are more likely to go after fast moving baits, so live threadfin herring and scaled sardines can work well. Live pinfish, grunts, and Spanish sardines are also effective.

Goliath Grouper: Due to their large size, goliath grouper prefer larger baits like jack crevalle, ladyfish, or even smaller sharks. However, remember that as of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, goliath grouper were catch-and-release only in Florida waters due to their protected status.

Black Grouper: Similar to red grouper, live baits such as pinfish, grunts, and squirrelfish are effective. Squid and sardines can also be used.

Tips & tricks to catching grouper in Florida:

- If you have trouble catching Grouper try using frozen squid, octopus, or crab as they can't fight back.

- Don't forget your Florida Saltwater Fishing License before heading out for grouper fishing! Using a Florida grouper charter should provide you with this, however.

- Bottom fishing is the most popular technique used by fishermen in Florida, and all you need to do is set up the bait, then wait until a Grouper arrives at your spot, and just reel! Remember crank don’t yank, quickly reeling when the grouper is on your bait is what sets the hook.

- Using a big live pinfish or bait fish with the fins cut off will help as they have a harder time evading the ambush of a grouper and often will make an easy meal.

Conclusion about Florida grouper fishing:

Grouper is one of the most sought-after fish in Florida. With the correct charters, you can learn all the trade tricks to help snag this large fish! Catch grouper now with the best grouper fishing company in Florida! 

If you are in the St. Petersburg area and looking for a fishing charter that has the best experience in hunting for these amazing fish, contact us! Our 8-hour fishing charters in St. Petersburg will have you catching an unforgettable trophy fish in no time!