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Trolling for grouper

Some friends and i are headed over to Steinhatchee to troll for grouper for the first time next week. I know better to ask for numbers lol, however everything i have read stays 25-35 ft to troll for them on rock piles or ledges. I am looking for some advise from people that actually do it. Depth, speed, i have a bunch of Mann stretch 30+ lures i am planning on trolling. Any and all advise is appreciated, a direction such as 6 miles south west or so to start looking for rock piles and what not would also be very much appreciated.


  • LakotaRainLakotaRain JaxPosts: 56 Deckhand
    Fishfinder22 -  I have found them this time of year a little shallow than 25-35.  Closer to 20'.  I am certainly not a pro at it..  Another thing would be to look for clean water..  As in try to find an area with minimal floating grass.  After our last big blow, I can imagine the grass may be tough to deal with.  Bring along your heavy bottom gear just in case you have to change tactics.  Most of all keep a keen eye on your bottom machine.  I found 2 keeper-sized a couple of years ago that were on a ledge that was no more than 1-2 tall and less than 5-10 ft long.  Apparently, there were enough swiss cheese holes down there for them to take up residence.  As for speed....  Enough to get close to the bottom!  I keep it under 8 knots..  Like I said I am not a pro at it.  There are many more "guys" in this region that have it dialed in....
    Skeeter ZX22V -  Yamaha F250

  • NobelNobel ALTAMONTE SPRINGSPosts: 81 Deckhand
    I don't fish out of steinhatchee, but do it frequently further south.   20-30 foot is where i catch almost all grouper trolling this time of year.   Near the end of December, i find they start to move out further.   Frequently, crab traps will be by rocky areas so look for those lines and see if you mark any good bottom.   Those mann's 30+ are some deep diving lures.  I typically use those when i start getting between 30-45 foot depths.  I prefer the rapala dt 30s and 20s for 30' and under, but both should work.  You'll just have to adjust how far out you put them if your digging in too much.  You might want to change out the hooks on the mann's lures too with some stronger ones, as they tend to bend easy.  As far as speed, i never go above 5 mph.   I usually stay between 3 and 5 depending if I'm going with or against the current.  However, I've caught them with the boat barely in gear so try varying your speed from time to time.  Good luck and report back.  
  • LakotaRainLakotaRain JaxPosts: 56 Deckhand
    Agree on the stretch 30s.  I generally stick with the 20s and 25s.  I have also had good luck with the Yozuri Crystal Minnow.
    Skeeter ZX22V -  Yamaha F250

  • nicknick Crystal RiverPosts: 5,039 Admiral
    May do better bottom fishing if water quality is as terrible as it is in CR. 
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 10,636 Moderator
    Yes , stay inside of 30 and look for hard bottom. Any type of irregularity will hold fish. Doesn't have to be a hole or a rock. Great if you can find that but few and far between around here. Live bottom that holds bait is good. Water clarity and color as mentioned is important. 

    I troll under 6 MPH and usually 4.5. Drop back two colors and start dragging. 
    Good luck and post us a report !
    "You'll get your weather"
  • fishfinder22fishfinder22 Posts: 70 Deckhand
    Thank you all for the input, i just returned home from a deployment and my buddies and i have talked about doing this for years. I truly thank you for taking the time to reply to me with advise. We will be arriving this Friday and going straight to fish before checking into the Sea ****. We have a ton of different types of lures. I try to post a report Friday and Saturday night. If not i will definitely post one on Sunday on the ride home. Thank you all again. Tight lines.
  • fishfinder22fishfinder22 Posts: 70 Deckhand
    Well it was tougher than all get out but we fished Friday and Saturday with only sea bass to show for it. All caught while trolling.

  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 10,636 Moderator
    Gotta try. Personally , I don't catch gags where I'm getting seabass.
    "You'll get your weather"
  • ChillyChilly Posts: 564 Officer
    So do you pick up and make a big run or just troll out of that general area?

    CHEAP BAIT! Try our NE FL Bait Co-op: http://northeastfloridabaitcoop.com/

  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 10,636 Moderator
    Chilly said:
    So do you pick up and make a big run or just troll out of that general area?
    Troll out if no other area or number to check. What depth were you trolling ? What did the bottom machine look like ?  Lots of variables . Sounds like you had the bait close enough to the bottom if catching rock bass.

    "You'll get your weather"
  • nicknick Crystal RiverPosts: 5,039 Admiral
  • tankeredtankered Gainesvill, FlPosts: 1,177 Officer
    nick said:
    Seabass is better than grouper!

    But it takes at least 10 of them to equal the meat of one keeper grouper. 

    One time I caught a 20" seabass out of CK. It looked so weird coming up because I wasn't expecting that! Wish they were all closer to that size.
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 10,636 Moderator
    They are nowhere near as abundant as they used to be. Sad
    "You'll get your weather"
  • tankeredtankered Gainesvill, FlPosts: 1,177 Officer
    A few years ago we caught a good amount of fairly nice ones during ARS season, they were right there with the snappers. 2017 I think, maybe 2018.
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