Collapse bottom barsurvey

Grouper Fishing Bottom Rigs from the Pros

 

How We Rig It

There’s a lot more to grouper fishing than simply dropping a bait to bottom and letting it lie there until a fish finds it.

 

 

Successful grouper anglers tailor their rigs and baits to the conditions, and around the Florida coastline, that means widely differing depths, bottom type and currents. As a result, you see an array of rigging systems on the more productive boats.

Here we showcase three rigs from three regions, the West Central Gulf Coast, East Central Atlantic Coast, and far South Florida.

Of note, these systems, while developed for particular areas, are easily adapted for changing conditions in any waters.

Sources interviewed by Jeff Weakley, Editor

 

 

 


 

Gulf Coast Fixed-Sinker Deadbait Rig

 

Capt. Gary Folden, Strike Zone, 27 Ocean Master, Clearwater

We all pretty much use an egg sinker with molded-in swivels, a 4-foot leader, and now a circle hook. Nothing fancy, but the regulations are you must use circle hooks for bottom fishing in the Gulf. Hook size? The circle hook regulation is so new, we¹re still trying out different styles and sizes.

For leader, I use anywhere from 60- to 100-pound test when charter fishing, but when I go fishing, I may use lighter. Our visibility is not what it is in other areas of Florida, so we can get away with short leaders. Most of the time I use ladyfish, a chunk cut like a slice from a loaf of bread. We steak ¹em out, into a 3-inch plug.

 

 

My reels are Penn 320GTis, spooled with mono. Rods are old fiberglass blanks that I’ve been re-doing myself over the years.

I use a fast, simple knot–like a three-turn uni-[knot]. I also make my own sinkers, molding them from castnet leads. The mold I have is a cigar-shape, and I put swivels in each side. Other types you can buy at shops up here.

 


 

East Coast Sliding Sinker Livebait Rig

Day in and day out, we use 100-pound leader and a 5/0 Daiichi D84 circle hook for pilchards and herring, hooked up through the nose. Nine-ought D84 circle hooks are used for pinfish, goggle-eyes and blue runners, bridled to the hook with 50-pound black Dacron or tie-wraps, through the nostrils or eye socket.

Capt. Scott Goodwin, Anyar, 40-foot Guthrie express, Port Canaveral

Eighty percent of the time, we¹re using a 5- or 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leader, and 100-pound mono on the rod; we use Triple Fish–it’s tough and relatively economical.

We use a sliding sinker on the main line, with a big, 400-pound-test swivel; not for the strength of the swivel, but so the sinker doesn’t hammer it. Up here an 8- to 12-ounce sinker is what we use most often.

Ideal bait is spot or croaker, followed by pinfish. Big-eye scad, which we catch on sabikis on the way out, are also gold. We hook the bait above the anal fin if there’s not much current and we¹re anchored, but you have to feed out a little line so the bait isn’t pinned backward.

 

Our reels are 6/0 Daiwas, with Star B50 rods–8-footers you tuck up tight under your right arm. Our typical bottom is anywhere from 18 miles out to 30, local wrecks and several rock ledges.

 


 

South Florida Three-Way Swivel Rig

 

Capt. Bouncer Smith, Bouncer’s Dusky, Dusky 33, Miami Beach Marina

We fish a Penn 50VS (variable speed) with 80- or 130-pound Momoi Diamond braid on a Capt. Harry’s Hopper rod, which is a short, flexible composite rod with construction much like an Ugly Stik.

We use about 15 inches of double line produced by tying a Bimini Twist. 10-turn ‘no-name’ knot adds 5 feet of 100-pound mono to the rig. The 100-pound is tied to a 5/0 3-way swivel. The second leg of the swivel is used for about 3 feet of 60-pound mono ending in a large perfection loop. This loop will be used to secure whatever sinker is needed to hold bottom nearly straight down in the existing current, usually 1 to 3 pounds. The last leg of the swivel hosts a monofilament leader 20 to 40 feet long. The leader length is shorter in shallower water or when IGFA rules apply. The leader will range anywhere from 60- to 120-pound test, depending on frequency of bites. Start heavy and work your way down on every wreck for best results.

Day in and day out, we use 100-pound leader and a 5/0 Daiichi D84 circle hook for pilchards and herring, hooked up through the nose. Nine-ought D84 circle hooks are used for pinfish, goggle-eyes and blue runners, bridled to the hook with 50-pound black Dacron or tie-wraps, through the nostrils or eye socket.

FS