How to Fish for Grouper in Florida

by Floyd Drake III
Common grouper types include gag and red grouper.

Common grouper types include gag and red grouper.

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Florida is one of the best locations for catching grouper, especially near the Keys and off the Gulf of Mexico coast. Grouper are a fishing favorite because of their abundance, size and ease of catching. There are six different types of grouper in Florida waters, ranging from small 6-pound red hind grouper to 600-pound Goliath grouper. Bottom fishing is a recommended method for catching grouper, and it requires a minimal amount of skill or special equipment, making it accessible for the novice and anglers without a boat.

Items you will need

  • Florida fishing license
  • Fishing rod
  • Tackle
  • Bait
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Step 1

Get a Florida saltwater fishing license. Saltwater fishing licenses are required in Florida, with options available for residents and nonresidents. Prices vary, but all license types are affordable. Residents can purchase an annual saltwater license, while vacationers have three-day, seven-day or year-round license options. When on a fishing charter, or tour, the cost often includes a temporary fishing license.

Step 2

Set up your fishing rod. The rod and tackle required depends on the size and type of grouper you're after. However, according to Bass Pro Shop's "Grouper Fishing Basics," a good all-around set up is a solid pole and reel, much like the type used on boats for larger fish, 50- to 80-pound test fishing line, an 18-inch leader with the appropriate weight sinker -- depending on the depth you are fishing -- and a 5/0 standard hook.

Step 3

Find a good grouper fishing location. Grouper are caught in depths from four feet to 100 feet or deeper. Grouper hide in rocky areas and around underwater structures, such as shipwrecks and piers. Grouper hide within these structures, and when the bait gets its attention, it swims out, grabs the bait and immediately returns to its hiding spot. In Florida, grouper may be found anywhere there are underwater hiding places.

Step 4

Hook up your bait and begin fishing. Because grouper are not picky eaters, any form of small bait fish is suitable. You may also use shrimp or squid. Squid works especially well because its firm flesh makes it a durable bait. Simply cast the line in the desired area and wait for the grouper to strike.

Step 5

Land the grouper. Grouper strike quickly and then retreat to a hiding spot, such as rocks or other underwater structures. When a grouper strikes, set the hook quickly by lifting the pole up and back. When the grouper is hooked, lower the pole and reel it in.

Tips & Warnings

  • Florida has laws in place to protect grouper and other marine life. Although there are closed seasons for Nassau and Goliath grouper only, there are size and catch limits for other types. These laws are subject to change, so consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website for exact information.

Photo Credits

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