Slugging it out with bottom dwellers like big grouper and snapper requires heavy tackle. The minimum used on most of our trips is 60 pounds. When bottom fishing, never set the hook, no matter how shallow you are fishing. When the bait is on the bottom, reel the slack out of the line and raise your rod tip a few feet from the water's surface. When you get a hit, reel as fast as possible to set the hook and get the fish heading in the right direction in one motion. As the fish comes to the surface, a steady crank of the handle is all you need. If a larger fish is hooked, loosen the drag about halfway to the surface. This will ensure the fish is not lost due to line breakage.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.