May 1st. is coming up, and you know what that means! Grouper Season is back so it’s time to grab the mask, fins, wetsuit and the most important part, the spear gun. Now spearing a grouper is not as easy as it sounds, grouper are very skittish and will swim away from you as soon as they see you coming. The best thing to do is come down on them from the top in hopes to sneak up on them.
Having the right gear for grouper is key; not only for safety reasons but also the ease of the hunt. Let’s talk about float lines, and reels for freediving. I find float lines are safer than gun mounted reels because you are visible on the surface from the boat, and your buddy also now has a line to your last known location in lower visibility. When shooting grouper, they tend to wedge themselves in the reef and open their gill plates as a defense mechanism. It can often take several dives to get the fish out of the cave. With the float on the surface you now have a place to breath up for your next dive, and a direct path to follow down to the fish, especially if there is any current.
A gun mounted reel has other advantages though. There is no line to drag on the surface behind you and you can control the amount of drag on the reel. If you have the right amount of drag you can put pressure on the fish in hopes it will not make its way into its cave without pulling the spear out. Because reels are compact they don’t take up valuable space on a small boat. Reels if not properly taken care of can seize on you at the worst time, usually right after you shoot the biggest grouper of your life; believe me this happens, forcing you to leave the gun out of sight. As a Dive Instructor and avid spear fisherman, I would rather have a float line over a reel for the many safety reasons.
Good luck hunting the big grouper this season and stay safe!
Florida Keys Bridges Open To Fishing:
- Channel 2 (MM 73)
- Channel 5 (south end, MM 71)
- Long Key (MM 63-65)
- Tom’s Harbor Cut (MM 61.2)
- Tom’s Harbor Channel (access from north end only, MM 60.6)
- Seven Mile Bridge (south end only, MM 40)
- Spanish Harbor (MM 34)
- South Pine Channel Historic Bridge (MM 30)
- Kemp Channel (MM 23)
- Bow Channel (MM 20)
- Park Channel (MM 18.5)
- Shark Channel (MM 11)
Florida Keys Bridges Closed To Fishing:
- Little Duck Key-Missouri Historic Bridge, (MM 39.5)
- Missouri-Ohio Historic Bridge (MM 39)
- Ohio-Bahia Honda Historic Bridge (MM 38.5)
- Lower Sugarloaf Channel (MM 15.8)