Groupers are a type of fish that you can find in warm waters worldwide. They are popular among anglers and spearfishers because of their large size and tasty flesh. Eating grouper is like savoring the sweetest, most succulent of all seafood.
The delicate white fillets have a mild taste with a slightly sweet flavor and a moist yet firm texture that melts in your mouth. It’s no wonder that this highly prized fish is so sought after by both recreational and commercial fishermen alike. But catching a grouper is not always easy.
They usually put up a good fight when hooked and tend to hide in reefs and other underwater structures. This is why spearfishing is often the best way to target these fish. You can get down into the water where they are hiding and target them directly.
This is what Cooper Baker, the owner of Florida Spear, a brand-new apparel line said, “You got to go down before you get on top of a fish and figure out how to get it.” Plus, it’s just a lot of fun! If you’re thinking about going spearfishing for grouper, you should know a few things.
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Types of Groupers in Baja
In Baja, you will find several different types of groupers, including the following:
“We’re hunting groupers, some other reef fish, some other more sailfish. And then the next day we’re doing wahoo,” Cooper Baker said about their hunts.
Snappers being opportunistic feeders, will go for just about anything. But they do prefer small crabs, shrimp, and squid. These fish usually bite the bait and run with it, so be prepared for a good fight when you hook one.
They are also known to steal bait from hooks, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your line. Snappers can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh 50 pounds. But the average size is 1-2 feet and 20 pounds in Baja.
Some types of snapper fish like the Colorado Snapper, Barred Snapper, and Dog Snapper are also found in Baja. If you fish them above the rock, they will likely hit the bait.
Sailfish are super-fast and have razor-sharp teeth, so they can be challenging to catch. But they are well worth the effort, as their flesh is delicious. These fish usually hang around the surface due to the dorsal sail that gives them their alluring appearance.
They are also known to jump out of the water when hooked, so be prepared for a spirited fight. Sailfish can grow up to 7.1-11 feet long and weigh up to120- 220 pounds.
Dolphin Fish (Mahi-Mahi)
Dolphin fish are one of the most popular types of fish to catch in Baja. They are also known as Dorado or Mahi-Mahi. These fish are quite aggressive and will hit just about anything that moves.
They are also known for their acrobatic abilities, as they often jump out of the water when hooked. Dolphin fish can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 60 pounds. But the average size is 2-3 feet and 10-20 pounds in Baja.
Wahoo are a very delicious type of fish, and they are also quite popular among anglers. They are known for their speed, as they can swim up to 70 miles per hour.
Thus, they are quite a challenge to catch. Also, they have sharp teeth, so you need to be careful when handling them. Wahoo can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh 183 pounds.
Roosterfish get their name from their long, pointed bill that resembles the comb on a rooster’s head. These are the largest of the Jack family and can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 60 pounds.
They are the lions of the panga world and are considered the ultimate gamefish. They are known for their vicious strikes and powerful runs. But they can also be quite elusive, so they are not always the easiest fish to catch.
How to Spearfish for Grouper
Spearfishing is a bit different from other fishing types, as you need to be quite close to the fish to get a good shot. As Cooper Baker said, “I got close enough to it, and it started swimming away. And then I basically at that time, got close enough to get a shot, and I ended up landing this fish.”
This is why it’s important to know where they are hiding. Groupers typically hide in reefs, shipwrecks, and other underwater structures. You have to be prepared to get down into the water and look for them.
You should be a good diver and know how to handle a spearfishing gun. When spearfishing for grouper, it’s essential to use the right type of bait.
These fish are attracted to live bait, such as crabs, shrimp, and squid. Ensure you have some of these on hand. You should also use a heavier spearfishing gun to help you penetrate the fish’s tough skin. Groupers can grow quite large, and you should be prepared for a fight when you hook one.
Types of Spearfishing
When Spearfishing for Grouper, you can do a few different types of spearfishing.
The Bluewater Hunting
Bluewater hunting is a type of spearfishing done in open water, typically more than 30 feet deep. This is considered the most challenging and dangerous type of spearfishing, as you are often hunting fish that are much larger than you.
You need to be a good diver and have a lot of experience spearfishing to succeed.
Freediving involves diving down to depths of 30 feet or less without using any breathing apparatus. In this diving, you rely on your lungs to get you down and back up to the surface. It requires holding your breath for long periods and being very comfortable in the water.
“I was just getting to the point where I was feeling comfortable at deeper depths, but we get in, and it’s about 65. So, it’s a little bit of getting used to’” according to Cooper Baker.
This type of spearfishing is typically done in shallower waters, as you are limited by the depth you can reach without a tank.
From a Boat
In this type of spearfishing, you typically use a boat to get out to the fishing grounds. Once you are there, you can dive down and start hunting for fish.
This is a good option if you want to cover a lot of ground and don’t want to have to swim long distances. It also allows you to get to deeper waters that you might not be able to reach from the shore.
Cooper Baker said, “But basically the first day we wake up to crystal clear water, like perfect conditions, no wind. It’s just amazing. You wake up, and you’re in paradise suite, and of course, we’re aboard at this boat. So, you wake up on the spot, just ready to go.”
Reef hunting is mostly done around coral reefs. These areas are typically teeming with fish, so it can be a great place to find your quarry. However, it can also be quite dangerous, as the reefs can be sharp and often have strong currents.
If you are not careful, you could easily get cut or swept away. This type of spearfishing is best done with a partner, as they can help you stay safe and keep an eye on you.
Shipwrecks are another good place to find grouper. These fish often hide in the nooks and crannies of the wreck, so it can be a bit difficult to get to them.
But, if you are patient and persistent, you can usually find them. Just be careful when diving around shipwrecks, as they can be dangerous, and there is often a lot of debris.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Spearfish for Grouper?
The best time of year to spearfish for grouper is typically from November to June. This is when they are most active and can be found in shallower waters.
Of course, you can still find grouper in deeper waters throughout the year. But you will likely have more success if you target them when they are in shallower waters.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Spearfish for Grouper?
A good time to spearfish for grouper is` early morning or late afternoon. This is when the sun is not as intense, and the fish are more active. It’s also important to choose a day with little to no wind. This will help you stay afloat and make getting close to the fish easier.
Ideal conditions for spearfishing are when there is minimal wind and waves. You want to see the fish clearly and have a good shot. The water should also be clear to see what you are shooting at.
Also, during high tide, the grouper will be pushed into deeper waters and will be more difficult to catch. So, it is best to go out during mid-tide.
Tips for Catching Grouper
In Baja, California, the mighty grouper fish is a popular spearfisher target. These big game fish are not only a blast to catch, but they’re also excellent table fare. If you’re looking to add a grouper or two to your spearfishing haul, here are some tips to help you get started.
Knowledge of Your Grouper Species
Groupers come in various species, and it’s important to know which kind you’re targeting before heading out. Different grouper species have different habits and preferred habitats.
“Obviously, the target was some bigger groupers. So, the Gulf groupers and the broom tails, it’s a little bit more common to see the Gulf groupers get a little larger.
And then the broom tails; it’s a little bit rarer. So obviously, the trophy fish is a huge broom tail. So, that was the target,” Cooper Baker said.
For example, the yellowfin grouper is found in rocky reefs and ledges, while the black grouper typically hangs out in seagrass beds and around shipwrecks. Knowing your species will help you narrow down your search and give you a better chance of finding fish.
When it comes to grouper fishing, you’ll need the right gear if you want to be successful. A good spearfishing gun is a must, as grouper are big fish and will require a powerful weapon to take them down.
“We were using real guns, and you have to at least use three bands, honestly, to land a fish like that,” Cooper Baker said.
In addition, you’ll need a good wetsuit or drysuit to protect you from the elements. And finally, a good pair of fins will help you swim faster and cover more ground when hunting grouper.
The Right Bait
Groupers are opportunistic feeders, meaning they’ll eat just about anything that comes their way. Some certain baits and lures seem to work better than others.
Live bait is always a good option, as grouper will naturally be drawn to anything swimming around. Common grouper baits include squid, sardines, and mackerel. If you’re using artificial lures, bright colors tend to work well.
The Right Spot
The right spot can make a difference when you’re spearfishing for grouper. As we mentioned, different grouper species prefer different habitats. So, if you know what kind of grouper you’re after, you can better target their location.
Groupers are bottom-dwelling fish, so you’ll typically find them near the seafloor. Reefs, ledges, and shipwrecks are all good places to start your search.
Patience is a Virtue
Targeting a grouper can be a bit of a waiting game. These fish are known for being big, powerful fish, and they can be difficult to catch. Although managing to spear one is half the battle, the real challenge comes when you try to reel them in.
Grouper have been known to break lines, so it’s important to be patient and take your time when you’re fighting one of these fish.
According to Cooper Baker, “I’m sitting there, continuing to do my dives, and I’m not seeing anything. I’m just getting a little frustrated, and I want this fish.
It comes to the point where I come up from one dive, we’re diving in like 70 feet of water. So, it takes a decent amount out of you when you’re doing these dives, and after five minutes, breathe up, and repetitively, it does.”
Spearfishing for grouper is a great way to add excitement to your next fishing trip. These big game fish are not only a blast to catch, but they’re also excellent table fare.
“And the other two guys, they get in the water, and I think on their second dive, they go down, and they both shoot a big Gulf grouper, maybe 60, 70 pounds.
And I’m like, man, that’s awesome. We’re all really excited, and we recollect on the boat playing music. And it’s just a good overall vibe,” in accordance with Cooper Baker’s experience.
With a little bit of knowledge and the right gear, you’ll be well to bring home a grouper or two. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start spearfishing!