Author: Brandon Lindsey
Florida Gulf Coast Winter Grouper Fishing
Winter time means shallow gag grouper on the central gulf coast.The central gulf coast is covered with small rock piles and ledges that will hold plenty of hungry gags. These gags can be found from 10-50 feet in large numbers. There are many different ways to catch these fish. From the normal bottom fishing methods or trolling lipped baits to chumming and flat lining baits.
If you are new to the area or just looking for new spots to fish trolling lipped crank baits are an awesome way to find and catch these gags. I like to use Mann’s stretch 30 or Rapala x-rap magnum for 25+ feet and Bomber Long A for anything shallower. I pull them on 50 lb Bullbuster monoto 10 feet 100 lb Bullbust fluorocarbon leader. I like to pull them between 3.5 to 5 knots but I watch the rod tip to see how hard it’s bouncing meaning the bait is swimming properly. While pulling the plugs zig zag back and forth to locate structure then hold on because theses gags will slam the baits hard.
Once you have located structure that is holding fish you can anchor up and fish them a couple different ways. The traditional way is to use a eggsinker to a swivel then 3-5 foot 80 lb Bullbuster fluorocarbon leader to a 6/0 hook. This is a great way to catch them and how I fish them on most of my charters. I use dead sardines or threads at first cut in half. This gets some smell in the water and helps get them fired up.
"I start by chumming for at least 5 mins with cut up sardines or threadfins before even starting to send baits back"
After catching several fish or until the fish slow down biting I continue to fish dead baits. Once the bite slows a little I will then throw down a live pinfish or grunt and get them fired up again. The other way I like to fish them and it’s a little bit tougher to keep them out of the rocks but is with a flatline.
Gags will get aggressive, they will come a pretty good ways up from the bottom to eat. I start by chumming for at least 5 mins with cut up sardines or threadfins before even starting to send baits back. Once you have the chum going back take a bait cut in half then start slowly letting it out with zero weight on it. Keep the line slack if the line comes tight while the bait drifts back it will raise it up out of the chum slick or make the bait spin making the gags alert. With slack in the line you have to be keep your eye on the line to look for the jump in the line of the fish eating the bait. Then reel, reel, reel! You have to get the fish coming up so it doesn’t get in the bottom.
Try these tips to make you have a better gag season with some fun hard fighting shallow water gags.
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