BAIT AND CHUM:
Why you will buy a new freezer
There are three types of bait: dead, live and artificial. We will be focusing on the first two. Typically live bait is more effective but not always. A good strategy is to fish both types of bait to see what works.
Dead bait is obviously easier to obtain and store. If you want to fish with live bait, a live well is needed on your boat. Additionally, you will need to spend time catching them.
To get fish excited, chum is sometimes used. It is most effective when anchored. Chumming is helpful but not a key element to catching grouper.
Dead bait for grouper fishing consists of the following:
Frozen bait can be purchased at tackle shops and stores with fishing departments. Get bait as fresh as possible and keep it frozen until it's time to use it.
Use generous chunks of bait, minimum 3-4" long . Squid is the gold standard dead bait. Always bring lots of squid.
Live bait can be purchased, caught with hook and line, trapped or netted.
If you are good with a cast net you can get a lot of bait quickly. Traps can be purchased at tackle stores that catch pin fish. I have not had much luck with them.
If you live on the water you can catch pinfish using tiny j-hooks tipped with squid. Pinfish can be kept in floating large plastic drums with holes cut in them. They have to be fed every day or they will eat each other.
Bait can also be caught on the way out to the fishing grounds. For this you will want to use the small circle hooks referenced earlier. Just off shore you will be able to catch pinfish and sand perch. Sand perch are known as "grouper candy". Us small pieces of squid on the hook to catch them.
Chum is a collection of small pieces of fish, guts and other smelly stuff. You buy it in frozen blocks. Try to get chum that is already in a mesh. The mesh helps regulate dispersal.
There are two ways to disperse chum: chum bags and chum cages. Chum bags are like laundry bags. A block of chum is placed in the bag and the bag is hung off the side of the boat.
Chum cages are wire containers that open on one side to insert the chum block. They can be tied to a long line and lowered to the bottom.
If you are not anchored and the drift is fast, chumming will not be as effective. The same is true if it is very deep. Chumming is optional. If it works use it.
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