Grouper Fishing Miami – Good Grouper Bite off Fowey

We were very privileged to have Dr. Alix Salvant as well as his friends and family aboard the Marauder yesterday.  Our ultimate goal was to bring home some grouper but we set out offshore in the morning to see if the sailfish were feeling frisky. Large baits for the kite were sparse around Bug Light, but the crew opted to pitch in a few dollars and pick up some pilchards from the live bait boat.  We charged offshore into a sporty seaway with a course set for our favorite wreck, hoping to put the hooks in a few late season amberjack.  Between the swells, wind, and strong current it was difficult to maintain position over the wreck with any consistency.  We managed a few drifts but the jigs turned up nothing.  The sounder was somewhat empty as well, marking a few scattered fish patrolling the north side of the wreck but no significant schools or bait balls.  As the wind and chop got the better of us, we decided to run a bit farther south off and start our drift in hopes of luring a sailfish.

The wind was a steady 12 to 15 knots out of the East which helped us to gradually fish our way from 225′ in towards 140′. Todd was quick to deploy the midwater rods while I put the kite in the air. As soon as the short bait went into the water, a schoolie mahi grabbed the mid-line and took off towards the bow.  He spit the hook before I could get tight but Todd was quick to connect on another fish trailing closely behind.  Our angler made short work of him and in the box he went. Oddly enough, no other schoolie’s stuck around even after I launched a few live chummers over the side.

The next three drifts did not produce a single hit.  The wind made it easy to cover a variety of depths, but our full spread (four mid water rods, one deep rod, and three kite lines) turned up nothing. We packed it in and headed for the reefs hoping the snapper and grouper were ready to play.

I’ve done a fair bit of diving on the reefs south of Fowey Rocks the past year, but I haven’t had a chance to aggressively fish everything i’ve explored. Back in the summer, I had found a really nice ledge that drops off from 25′ to 40′ with lots of overhangs, coral heads, and rocks…i figured this would be a prime opportunity to give it a go.  We anchored up in a prime position and deployed the chum…within 5 minutes yellowtails started swirling behind the boat while the ballyhoo showed up in droves.  We immediately began pulling a few snappers in the boat but they were all small. Certainly a far cry from the epic yellow tail snapper fishing we enjoy in Islamorada. While the crew was busy bailing the snappers, I rigged one of my Penn Formulas with a dropper rig and a big blue runner.  I Sent him down to the bottom and kept him just a few inches off the rocks. I’ve always found the key to successful bottom fishing is to “bounce” the weight on the bottom to avoid getting snagged – this keeps the bait just off the bottom and in a perfect position to get hammered. Within just a few minutes of the runner hitting the bottom, the rod doubled over and started ripping drag.  It was a bruiser grouper right off the bat…definitely a bit of momentum to get our reef fishing trip underway.

Grouper Fishing off Miami - Reef Fishing Trip

With a fat 26″ fish on ice, we put a pilchard down on the formula to see what else wanted to play. Within seconds…whomp! The rod doubles over again and we were on!  Another fat grouper! This one was barely hooked in the tip of the lip ,but it fought hard the entire way to the surface.  I’m not sure how  that fish managed to stay hooked, but as soon as it was within reach i grabbed him by the gills and pulled him over the gunnel.  Another fat fish!

Grouper Fishing off Miami - Bottom Fishing for Grouper

The fishing slowed down as the yellowtail got their fill of chum and the clock wound down on our half day trip. We surfed our way back in the following sea, excited that we’d found a productive grouper hole which we’ll be sure to hit again before the end of the season. Trolling for grouper has also been productive on the reef ledges off the ragged keys down towards Elliott Key, but i’m always a fan of fishing big live baits on the bottom. With heavy fluorocarbon and big circle hooks – you just can’t miss!


Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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