Are you planning on vacationing in Florida this year? If so, you may want to consider adding a few days of fishing to your itinerary. One of the species that you'll want to think about targeting is red grouper. They are apt to put up a good fight and they taste good too. Here's some of what you need to know in order to catch one:
Where to Look
Red grouper are warm water fish that have a tendency to ambush their prey. They are known to prefer water temperatures in the 66 to 77 degree Fahrenheit range and tend to spawn offshore in the spring. You can often find them in depths of 400 feet or searching for food around shallow water reefs. They are also often found in estuaries, deep holes, sandy depressions, limestone reefs and open water. The reason why red grouper are found in such a variety of areas is that the species tends to change habitats as it ages. They start out frequenting inshore waters and typically relocate to offshore waters later in life. Thus, if you want to want to catch large red fish, I'd suggest that you target offshore locations.
When to Look
Although it is possible to catch red grouper at various times of the day, I like fishing for them during the cooler parts of the day. I have also found that fishing in the hours immediately before and after high tide tend to produce excellent results.
Bait and Tackle Suggestions
In my experience, the best live baits for catching red grouper are shrimp, crabs, squid and octopus. They are also known to eat other reef fish and lobster. You may want to try using shrimp imitating, artificial lures as well.
As far as tackle goes, grouper fishing regulations vary by region. For example, anglers fishing in certain waters for red grouper must use dehooking tools, non-stainless steel circle hooks and venting tools. As such, you'll want to check out what the grouper regulations are for your vacation destination. A good way to do that is to log onto the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website. You can also purchase your visitor's fishing license while you're on the website.
Depending on your area's regulations, you may want to consider using heavy tackle and bottom bouncers. I have had previous success with that combination. Trolling at different speeds and flat lining have also proven to be productive.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
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