The beginning of March through May is some of the best time to tackle King Kong sized grouper. Whether it be Blacks, Gags or even Reds this spring fishery is sure to deliver some of the biggest of the entire year. The grouper are still in their spawn mode over the waters of the Florida Keys and Bahamas.
In the Bahamas it is legal game and harvest of these magnificent beasts up to 20 or equivalent of 60 lbs of fillets upon leaving the Bahamas. If you do so do not even stop and fish when entering Florida as you will be one out of season and 2 way beyond the legal limit.
In the Florida Keys on the Atlantic side, grouper season does not open until May 1st, yet you can catch and release these big fish from January 1st through April 30th.
The fish at this time of year have voracious appetites and are not as weary as during the late spring through early winter. They are a constant search for food, sex and thier secretive nature is cast aside. You will find them cruising flats, sandy areas, shallow patch reefs all the way to deep reefs and wrecks.
The tackle I choose is a stout jigging rod either conventional or spin that is rated to at least 150 lbs. The particular set up on this trip was Tsunami Spin H Jigging Rods and Penn Battle 8000 loaded with 65 lb braid and also Tsunami Spin XH Spin Rods with Canyon Reels 10000 with 80 lb braid. Both performed flawlessly with the Canyon out-performing the Penns due to their higher drag capability up to 44 lbs of drag in dragging those lead-sleds off the bottom.
The terminal tackle consisted of heavy-duty 3-way swivels directly tied to a Bimini knot on the main line. A 16” dropper line with an overhand loop knot and loop for the weight and the third component a 50# Ande Flourocarbon leader to about 10 feet tied to a Heavy Duty Owner Mutu Circle Hook in size 7-10 depending on bait used.
Weights were selected depending on current, depth, bottom type and line class.
Baits consisted of ballyhoo plugs, live grunts, live pinfish, speedos, chunk bonito, barracuda (in Bahamas only as illegal to use in FL).
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