Middle Grounds bait question for grouper/snapper

Makotim

Newbie
Feb 7, 2018
10
4
39
Palm Beach
Name
Tim
Boat
23 Mako
I along with two of my uncles will be fishing the 12 hour extreme trip on Hubbards Flying Hub June 9 & July 11 to the middle grounds fishing over 120' for grouper and snapper with bait. As it is during ARS season we will be targeting them along with grouper and mangrove snapper. The boat supplies threadfin and squid.

Besides the two ARS that I am allowed to keep, I am looking to target larger fish like red and gag grouper. Quality over quantity

I live over on the east coast in Palm Beach County so I have access to fresh ballyhoo and possibly fresh dead goggle eyes. I think goggle eyes are not common in the Gulf and was wondering if I would be wasting my time and money bringing over a few dozen fresh frozen goggle eyes from the local bait guy to bottom fish with?

What do you guys think about bottom fishing with fresh goggle eyes vs fresh ballyhoo for grouper? I posted this question on another forum and some replies stated that they never catch much bottom fishing with ballyhoo in the Gulf........

Also what leader length do you prefer while bottom fishing in middle grounds at anchor? Over here along east coast I have to go long leader while drifting and I think that a long leader may cause tangles with other fishermen.

As I am on the east coast I don't have much experience bottom fishing in the middle grounds.

Thanks in advance
 
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r_jones

GMCS
Feb 19, 2012
91
10
Jacksonville, FL
Name
Rob Jones
Boat
number 5
I go on the 39 hour trip once a year, and have found the treadfin on a double hook rig catches alot of stuff in the middle grounds. I also purchase some live pin fish from the marina. If all else fails hook up a legal bee liner and drop that down.
 
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DeeDee

I Should Upgrade My Account
Mar 18, 2012
1,229
993
tampa/Fl/Hillsborough
Name
Harbison
Boat
Florida Fisherman
Threadfin & live pins work well.
"If all else fails hook up a legal bee liner and drop that down."
Technically it's against the law to use reef fish for bait. Is it done? Well you know the answer to that.
 
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FLLR1

Almost A Member
Jan 30, 2006
221
127
Florida
Name
LT
Boat
Boston Whaler
Makotim-Please post a report when you get back. I am in Palm Beach County as well. Have been thinking of booking the 12 hour extreme trip. Would be great to hear how the trip was. Thanks.
 

Makotim

Newbie
Feb 7, 2018
10
4
39
Palm Beach
Name
Tim
Boat
23 Mako
Yesterday my local bait shop had domestic sardines from Cortez Fl. He did not know when or if they were going to get them next so I got two 5lb boxes and will store them for my future trips.

Also I will probably bring a box of frozen squid and maybe Boston Mackerel to fish along with the live pinfish that the boat can provide at extra cost.

I will be bringing a camera on the boat and I will report back with photos on how we do and what baits worked the best for both June and July trips.
 
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RedRich

Newbie
Feb 11, 2013
15
8
West Palm Beach, FL
Name
Richard
Boat
Lit'l Bit
Makotim - I'm in West Palm and fishing the June 9 trip also. I was thinking about bringing some gogs, they can work well in the Tortugas. I will split some fresh ones with you if you want to get some. I was thinking some ballyhoo also. I'm going to order some live pins. I like Thatsbait's suggestion about sabikis but sometimes bait is scarce in deeper spots where the big boys hang.

This will be my first middle grounds trip. I've grouper fished out of New Port Richey once a couple of years ago on a charter and we crushed them but in shallower water. I've done several Tortugas trips and fished Sebastian inlet head boats years ago for grouper and large snappers.
 
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otownjoe

rail hugger
Mar 6, 2012
263
86
Orlando
Name
Joe
Boat
big one with a high rail
3-6 ft leaders are all you will need.3 ft on sticky bottom. Longer leader in current. Long leaders and big live bottom don't mix. I wouldn't go out of my way for dead bait. A 5lb box of brined Spanish sardines and is never a bad idea.Just to have something different.I have been using the threadfins they supply for a few years now with good results.Spending time to catch big fresh pinfish is where I focus my efforts. Fresh bait will out fish the pinfish the boat sells. Especially on the bigger fish. Last year I caught a lot of my bigger RS on live pins up in the water column in the afternoon. But when the RS are firings you cant get a dead bait pass them either. I would release or give away anything under 10 pounds early in the day.For the big gags the biggest pinfish you have is the way to go. Dead bait is good for reds but I've caught plenty on live bait.
I have fished the 12 hour extreme a few times but the last few years has been the 39 hour trips exclusively. Smaller boat with less fishermen does make it easier to fish. But I prefer the double limits on the overnighter. Good luck
 
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