This episode is about how to catch Black Grouper in the Florida Keys using chum balls as well as other tips and tactics.
*Hopefully you can use some of these tips where you live and/or fish.
Below is a list of equipment that I use on my fishing charters when I target Black Groupers using the chum balls.
- Adrenaline Custom Rods: 5’9 40-60lb 140-300g (www.adrendalinecustomrods.com)
- Shimano Twin Power 8000 (www.shimanofish.com)
- 40 lb. Power Pro Braided Line (www.powerpro.com)
- 4ft of 40 lb. Fluorocarbon Wind-On Leader (www.seaguar.com)
- Gamakatsu Octopus Offset Circle 4X Strong Hooks Size 7 or 8(www.gamakatsu.com)
- Mustad Big Gun Hooks Size 7 or 8 (mustad-fishing.com)
*I highly recommend using black color hooks when chum balling for grouper.
Catch speedos along the reef line in the late fall or early winter. You can purchase dead speedos from the Key Largo Fisheries (www.keylargofisheries.com) or your local fishery by the case, these will work in a pinch but not as good as fresh speedos. You can catch these along the reef by chumming them up while Yellowtail Snapper fishing. Use tiny hair hooks, 12lb. fluorocarbon, baited with the small pieces cut from the bloodline from a Bonito or Blackfin Tuna. Believe it or not speedos can be tough to catch. The secret to catching speedos with small hair hooks is to use the small pieces of the a blood line from a Bonito or Blackfin Tuna for bait.
You can also use fresh goggle eyes, bonito and another favorite bait that I have had great success with is chunks of Black Fin Tuna.
Next- Make the Chum Ball Mix
There is no right or wrong way to make chum balls. Many guides like to add a block of frozen chum to the mixture. I do not use frozen chum nor do I use sand.
I use a product called Home Grown Layer Crumble (aka chicken feed). I will sometimes “spike” the chum ball mixture with added fish guts, blood, and chunks of the bait that I am planning on using. The Home Grown Layer has enough oil and molasses syrup in it that it forms a nice chum ball when mixed with water.
I have no real formula for the mixture, I mix it by hand with water until the consistency is just right to make a chum ball. This product holds together in the saltwater nicely.
How to Butterfly a Speedo for Bait
A Butterflied Speedo dead bait is an effective bait for targeting black groupers and Mutton Snappers off Key Largo, Florida. If you combine a butterflied Speedo with a “spiked” chum ball mixture of speedo guts, blood and chucks then you have as close to a guaranteed bite as you can get for Black Grouper.
- Cut a large speedo in 3 portions. If you are working with a smaller speedo remove the tail.
- Use the head head portion of the Speedo first to make the butterflied bait. Fillet one side of the speedo. Start from the bottom cut and end near the head of the speedo. Leaving the fillet attached to the speedo head and the guts.
- Repeat step 2 on the opposite side of the speedo.
- Next carefully remove the backbone of the fish. I prefer to use two hands when doing this and tear it out as close to the head as I can get with out damaging the filets.
- Toss the backbone, tail, blood and other parts into the chum ball mix and mash up up so the scent is distributed with the chum ball mixture.
- Remaining will be the speedo and head “fillet wings.”
- Force the hook you selected to use through the lower jaw of the speedo and out through the top of the head.
- Place the hook bait in the chum ball mixture and form a tight chum ball around the butterfly speedo head.
- Place the chum ball with packed butterfly speedo over the rail and into the water. Being careful not to break the up the chum ball.
- Now go catch some Black Grouper!