Jigging for Grouper and Other Species in Tampa Bay By Capt. Sergio Atanes
Deep jigging or vertical jigging is a fishing method that has been practiced around the world, but is just now getting acceptance from the saltwater anglers on the east coast. California, Mexico and Cuba have been yoyo jigging for years and have been very productive.
The introduction of the Butterfly Jigging system several years ago opened the door for other manufactures producing new versions of jigging products.
Find a location with moderate current and look for rocky areas, wrecks or other structure. A good bottom sounder is important in order to read not only the bottom, but the fish. Position the boat directly over the structure or fish, and drop a jig. The weight of the jig is determined by the current and depth of water, so I recommend having a good selection of jigs before starting on you jigging trip.
This simple technique allows you to drop the jig to the bottom, always staying in touch. By this I mean you must always feel the jig, as this will help in hook setting and also keeping the jig from twisting around your leader or line.
There are several methods of deep jigging. One is positioning the boat directly over the fish or drifting over the bottom across the rocks, ledges, or wreck. Always drift parallel to the rocks or wreck. Once the fish are located, it’s time to decide which lures will work best, metal jigs or soft plastic bait. Please note that your lure should be heavy enough to always touch bottom at all times.
When you drift beyond the ledge, rocks or wreck area, crank up and start another up current drift. Drop down to the bottom, crank one turn on the reel and start the drift again. Once a fish is hooked, drop a marker over the side, as this will give you a reference point for your next drift or to do a stationary drop.
When drifting for your best position in the boat, a good point to remember is that when “the wind is in your face you are in the right place.”
Anchoring is another choice if there is a strong current or strong wind. Position the boat over the structure and start jigging, allowing the jig to hit bottom every time.
Technique Grunts, Seabass
Some great table fair overlooked by many anglers are the grunts and seabass they are tasty in some cases preferred over other species. Your find these fish in the same area as the grouper the only exception is to use small jigs and best worked an piece of FISHBITE CHUNKS in either shrimp or squid flavor it’s a killer and let you catch an average of 5 to 8 grunts on one piece.
With metal jigs in fast currents or deep water, I prefer conventional reels with a fast retrieve medium action rod with 40-pound test braided line and a 36-inch 40-pound test clear mono leader. I find that a good grade of clear monofilament line works well and has a thinner diameter than fluorocarbon.
In shallow waters of 15 to 30-feet I prefer soft baits on spinning tackle, medium action rod spooled with 30-pound test braided line and a 36-inch fluorocarbon leader of 30-pound test.
A tight drag is recommended since you are fishing over structure, and these fish will head for the nearest hole or structure when they strike.
Under normal conditions I would use a conventional reel for grouper fishing, but I find spinning tackle to be less straining and easier to maintain the proper motion for longer periods of time.
Most popular deep jigs on the market.
Good fishing and tight lines.