Catch and release: It can be a challenge to get grouper away from the deep-water craggy rocks they call home, often a case of pulling straight up while the grouper pulls straight down. It is underappreciated by anglers who like fishing for the sport. Most often, it's a matter of putting meat in the icebox. But until you take on a grouper in shallow water, you have no idea how fast and powerful they are. Gag grouper in shallow water remind me of a snook's tenacity and speed. It has been said snook fishing is the consummate of sport fishing. Some might change their mind if they tried shallow-water grouper.
Tips: In 20-25 feet, sit about 50 feet from a shallow-water rock pile or mitigation reef and cast your free-line baits behind your boat. Chum like you would for any other species to bring the grouper away from the sharp rocks below. Ideally, you'll be anchored over sand, but that won't stop the grouper from exploring the scent of bait.
Technique: If conditions are right, it won't be long before you are brought to your knees from the strike. The grouper is quick to take a bait, then turn tail for the bottom and the rocks they adore. I trust you'll rethink the way you feel about this fish and come to love shallow-water grouper.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarryBlue.com.