Tips for Catching Grouper in Sarasota, FL This Season

September 6, 2019

Want to catch some grouper this season? Good luck—there’s a good chance you’ll be going after a fish that outweighs you! Therefore, it’s important that you’re properly prepared for the fight the fish is about to give you. You’ll need to know not just where to find them, but also the gear you’ll need and how to bring them in.

Here are some tips from our fishing charter for how to catch grouper in Sarasota, FL this season:

  • Know how close to shore they’ll be: How close the grouper like to be to shore depends primarily on the time of year. A good general rule is to stay closer to the shore in winter and farther from the shore in the summer. As water temperatures cool down, they’ll want to get closer to the shore to be in shallower water that’s warm enough for them to thrive. Look near ledges and steep drop-offs in winter. In summer, with warmer water temperatures, you’ll find them closer to deeper dwellings like shipwrecks and offshore reefs.
  • Look close to structures: Whether they’re near shore or far from it, grouper very much like structures. In fact, they depend on them, because their style of hunting is to ambush their prey from underneath or behind structural elements. Therefore, make sure you’ve got electronic tools on your boat that are powerful enough to read the presence of fish in, underneath and around the structure you’re looking at.
  • Live bait on bottom: There are some cases in which artificial lures will work, but in general you’re going to get better results if you use fresh live bait, and fish on the bottom. Some grouper favorites include grunts, blue runners, pilchards and goggle eyes. Bring different varieties of bait with you, because you’ll find that grouper hunger for different kinds of bait fish on different days. They spend a lot of time down on the bottom, so make sure to send your hook deep.
  • Use heavy-duty tackle: In addition to knowing the kind of bait you’ll need to use, you should also come prepared with heavy-duty, conventional tackle. A conventional level-wind reel sits on the top of the rod, which gives you more leverage against heavier fish like grouper because it uses more of the rod’s backbone. These conventional reels also tend to have higher line capacities, which is important since you’re going to be fishing very deep down toward the bottom. It’s a good idea to use an 80- to 100-pound braid for your line.
  • Use circle hooks: You’re going to have the most success fishing for grouper if you’re using large circle hooks. In fact, circle hooks are even mandated in some areas according to federal law, so it’s worth your while to have them on hand anyway.
  • Feel the pressure: The first few seconds of your fight with a grouper will likely determine your success. The grouper will run straight back to the structure as soon as it feels the pressure of the line, so you’re going to need to focus on keeping the fish away from the structure. Reel and pump quickly, and make sure you have the drag almost fully tightened down.

For more information about catching grouper in Sarasota, FL, contact the experts at Charter Boat Shark today.

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