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advice on catching a grouper

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Oct 6, 2004
In a post x-frog told me I could expect to catch some groupers in Cuba, which I would really like. I've nerver caught one, but I know some can become really big.

When they are hit how long time/far doe they run?

What tip would be the best to use? sliptip?

The fish I've caught so far have all been small enough to hold in the gills and stab in the brain. How do you kill a 50 kilo fish? is a standard stiletto type knife or icepick enough?

Should I know about any kind of fish that it is wiser not to shoot? Barracudas for example look really serious.
groupers dont run. they go right into the nearest cave and open up their gills and lock themselves in. many a spearo have lost and bent shafts to groupers. but they cost is definetly worth it. groupers have some of the best meat ever. also, most spearos carry a second gun to brain groupers. you will notice in most Picasso videos that the groupers have 2 or even 3 spears in them and are live and kicking. they are a hardy fish, they arent in the top of their food chain for no reason. an icepick is a good idea. a sharp screwdriver that has been on the bench grinder whill also work. strong is good when it comes to groupers. you might want to go for a 7mm shaft.
be prepared to do a whole lot of searching for groupers. many spearos here in the Persian Gulf use squid to lure them out. just drop of a little bait and come back in 20 mins. all the fish activity will attract the groupers. crabs are also great bait for groupers. just split them open and drop them off to the bottom

beware of eels, they are bigger than what you think and have big teeth and coil up around your shaft. barracudas look mean but are not as dangerous as they look as long as you use common sense and keep your hand out of their mouth.
Hi takeshi,

In areas where they are not shot so heavily, you can get close to a grouper in the open, if you do it right. I don't know Cuban conditions, but try getting directly above the fish and going straight down. Weight yourself so you don't have to move after the first 4 or 5 meters. There is something about approaching from directly overhead that works. Anything over 7 kg or so and you will want a slip tip or other detachable head on a line gun. For free shaft, spring steel with a simple flapper barb works fine for even big fish.

Good luck, and leave the big ones alone. They are rare and much more fun to see than shoot.

Allright, thanks for the informative answers guys. I don't think I will get a second gun (unless guns are dirt cheap in cuba). Guns are outlawed in sweden, and I don't want to risk bringing a gun home after my trip, so I'll probably leave it. ("Illegal possession of weapon"). The sharpened screwdriver sounds like a good solid solution though, and smart economywise.
also bear in mind that some species of groupers are all of the same sex, except for one specimen which is of the opposite sex. as that one dies, the next one in size undergoes a sex change. you dont want to be shooting the biggest one. go for midrange. also that way chance of losing gear is reduced.
good luck and happy hunting
in here if you drop down directly to the grouper from straight up it will run away much before speargun's range. If you see them in open dive from little away.Preferably dive to the rocks around the grouper and hide yourself behind the rocks, then show yourself little and wait little to check if it will come to aspetto or not, if it don't come and you have plenty oxygen left, hide again and try to swim toward it (not directly) while covering/hiding yourself with rocks. If you can't get close to it after this method it will either run like hell and dissapear or will enter the cave nearby. If it enters the cave you still have chance to find and shoot it in the cave. Make your next dive there ;) Not an expert here but this generally works:)
My advice is the same as Murat. In Baja we have the best luck by diving down into the rocks and not moving. The grouper out here are not shot at alot but they are still real easlily scared. I make almost all of my shots from the bottom on my stomach aiming at a slight angle up at the fish as he comes over to check me out just above the rocks.

They are for sure a stalking fish.

I dont know about tanks though if the technique is different.

Never try to swim right at him or chase him down.

is it possible to get a bigger grouper out if you shoot it in a hole/cave and it is not a killing shot? If so, or in general, is it an effective technique to hunt in holes using a flashlight and a shorter type gun?
Yes it is possible to get a big grouper out of a hole. I have found that with grouper you rarely get a kill shot on the first one. The first thing they will do is make a line to their cave/hole/overhang etc. and try to get in as deep as possible.

This is normal for grouper hunting. I always try to tightline my fish and try to keep them from going too deep under water. If they get holed up in a cave in under 30 ft you have a much better chance of getting them. Dont waste your time with a small gun hunting grouper you will just loose your gear or injure fish

I have never shot a grouper that was just sitting in a hole or cave. All of the grouper that I have shot have been 1-2ft over the rocks(bottom) on patrol of their territory. The "hole" is where they run in 1.5sec after you shoot them to try to hide.

When they hole up it is best to go up and take some good calming breaths. Getting them out of the hole can be work and will tire you out very fast. Do not try to push it getting them out, it is better to make several short dives and slowly work him out.
Dive down with your knife out and try to get a hand in the cave and brain him. if that dosent work try to grab some gills and pull, if that dosent work a simple stab might get him bleeding real good. Then its a waiting game. A good knife is key when hunting grouper. The spear line us usualy the problem and is usualy wrapped up in the rocks in the cave or hole.

the longest time it took me to get a grouper out of a hole was almost an hour. I needed help from my buddy. beware of getting tangled in your rigging.

Be aware of other animals in the area that are attracted to the noise and blood of a grouper kill. The grouper will kick wildly in its hole after shot and its like a dinner bell going off under water.

Best to try to tight line them after shot and prevent a hole up.

I hunt mainly grouper down here in Baja. there are 4 different types, and they all taste great!!

agreed with GTB,

another few reiminder..

I saw peoples taking groupers up to 18kg from the holes deeper that 30 meters...

Equipment you need....

1-)Main gun for first shoot, preferably longer in length if you have cnahce to find them out of the hole...I still can use my 110 for most of the holes. 6.5mm shaft will work 7mm may be little better but slow for opean area shoots.

2-)Second gun, 75cm will be fine for second shoots or for the place where you can not reach with your main gun.

3-)Good torch, i heavily recommend OMER Moonlight elite or recharable, they are very powerfull for big and dark caves and they are so powerfull that you don't need to enter the cave to see the fish you can see it from outside and take a shoot without scaring the fish (best opprtunity for solid head shoot), just don't get too close and light it, in SOME cases the powerfull beam MAY scare the fish so it turns her ass to you:eek: :D . Another great feature of this torch is magnetic switch, so you will not forget it in on state:head

4-)Spare shaft without FLOPPER to make repeated shoots to head to kill the fish.

5-)Hook, will help you to get the fish out when she opens the gills in the cave;)

6-)Grouper Buoy, if the grouper don't want to come out no matter what, tie this little buoy to the band of the gun (that will act like a shock absorber) and wait her to die.... by the way be sure to use reel for all of the guns.

7-) tool to release stucked shafts.

In most cases you can get them out with the half equipment i wrote above.

GOLDEN RULE for groupers,

If you don't have solid head shoot opportunity don't shoot, wait a little so grouper moves in other positions or left her for next time. Hovewer if you shoot to the mid body be prepare for battle. Don't push yourself too much which will cause shallow water blackout, but make several dive and work slowly on them...
A spare shaft without flopper for kill shots sounds like a smart thing
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