The past few days we have worked depths of 115 feet. Giant red grouper have been available on many stops. Not many fish have been caught, but the one or two at each anchorage have been huge. Our biggest of the week weighed a whopping 23 pounds. We have been coming home with eight to 10 fish, which once filleted compare to 15 legal-sized grouper in shallower water.
Red grouper of this size require some stout tackle. Fifty-pound line is barely enough to pull these beastly grouper from their holes. We have used 80-pound leader with 7/0 hooks with decent success. Occasionally a fish will drag us into the rocks, but overall this type of tackle will get the job done.
A few gag grouper have been added to the mix, and their weight has been impressive, too. The largest of the week weighed 28 pounds. Live baits have been the most productive at this depth. Drift-fishing has also been the ticket as light winds allow the boat to drift more slowly. This also allows bait to slowly drift past the fish, giving them time to react.
Free-lined baits while drifting has produced bigger kingfish than we have caught all spring. A few blackfin tuna and barracuda have also taken the surface baits. Small sharks seem to be everywhere in 100-plus feet, so bring lots of hooks. They are especially congregating over the same bait stacks as the giant grouper. I'm expecting a stray sailfish to grab one any day.