Fishing Tips: Grouper Fishing On Soft Baits – Part 1
By: Phil Foo
Groupers are some of the hardest fighting and fun fishes to catch. They play hard and they play smart. They are an opponent that will hit under the belt, and do so with a smile on their faces. Cheeky fighters they are. Give them a small chance and they will take your bait right into the corals, rocks, or snags. They fight like pile drivers; especially the giant groupers.
[ Yes, I have walked (or swam) groupers around the corals and rocks… ]
Many years ago I used to work at a beach resort in Peninsular Malaysia. During my free time I sailed out on our resort’s yacht to one of the snorkelling and diving sites. With baits, a spool of line, hook and sinker in hand; I dived down to rocks and corals bouncing my bait on them. Groupers would pop their heads out, look about, and then take the bait. That is when the fun starts. Yes, I have walked (or swam) groupers around the corals and rocks; stopping them just as they are to shoot into a hole.
A nice grouper caught off the Andaman Sea.
Should you be wondering; groupers do take soft baits or soft plastics. Out at sea it can be trickier to catch them as the currents usually dictates the weight of the jigheads used. Stronger currents require heavier weights and can make manipulating soft baits harder. With this I meant fishing with soft baits on jigheads and nothing else; like adding them as a trailer to jigs or lures, etc.
The Berkley Powerbait Grub is one of my favourite baits for fishing groupers and other fishes.
For the sake of this article let’s just say that the sea conditions are good and allows for the use of soft baits. The currents are not strong and there is no issue in getting the bait down to the bottom. Also let’s assume that the groupers are hiding out in your fishing zone. I know that this is seldom the case in the real world but for the sake of this article let us do so; since the idea is on how to manipulate the soft baits and types of soft baits to use.
With a plethora of soft baits in the market, which should I choose? What colours do groupers like? What are the best sizes? With the sea being large (ponds are quite large too); where do we fish them? Before we go into all of these questions let us first take a look on our target fishes and get to know them better.
A big grouper caught on soft bait.
Groupers are a kind of fish with a stout muscular body and a big mouth. They are not long distance swimmers. They are also not sprinters although they can shoot for cover fast. They live around rocks, corals, wrecks (shipwrecks, planes, etc), and various undersea structures. They hunt for food within the vicinity of structures that provides them cover. They are known to just hide in wait to ambush a meal (fish, squid, prawns, etc.) that happens to swim by.
With all these in mind, what does one pickup?
- They do not wonder far. This means that they usually hang around the place that gives them shelter or protection.
- They live around rocky areas, corals, and structures. This means that we will be fishing them near structures and the setup we intend to use must be able to stop the fish from entering any one of these structures.
- They are muscular and fight hard. They may not swim far and they may not swim fast. But they lunge with a burst of power right into structures. This is where anglers get caught off guard and lose the fish and their terminal tackle together.
- They do hunt within a small area but ambushing prey is one of the preferred ways that a grouper feeds. This means that if we are not fishing within a grouper’s hunting ground we will not be catching them.
This here is part 1 of Grouper Fishing On Soft Baits. In the next issue we will talk about searching for them and some of the recommended fishing tackles that you will need when fishing them. To take notice on the word “recommended.” This means that we recommend them but that does not mean that they are the only fishing tackle that you must use. Anyhow, stay safe and happy fishing.