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was wondering if anyone had any tips on trolling for grouper or dolphin in the gulf ..i primarily fish out of mississippi and normally troll for kings around the rigs and bottom fish the rigs but have heard of trolling for grouper and dolphin so i want to give it a try ..i just dont know quite where and how to start or what types of live or artificial baits to troll...any input would be appreciated....Stephen
I fish out of MS also. I have never trolled for grouper - I always use standard bottom fishing techniques for them.
Dolphin - you will need to run a looooooooong way to reach the blue water, at least 90% of the time. Once in awhile the rip will migrate well north, but even then, finding good size Dorado can be tough.
I have pretty good success with Lil Bubblers and Tuna Witches. I use the smaller size, dragging the two outboard units on planers or downriggers, and two inner units on top. Speed depends on surface conditions, but 4 knots seems to produce the best for me. When these fish are lit up and feeding, they will hit just about anything that moves and flashes.
30 lb test is plenty, though when a fat cobia hits one of the rigs, you have to play her carefully. You will also get a wahoo hit once-in-awhile, and that lasts about 3 seconds before the mono gets severed. The odd dumb tuna will hit too.
Sharpen your hooks, then sharpen them again. Keep the line very tight for the whole fight. Gaff em and flip them straight into the box, or else you'll be doing the chicken dance on deck.
Ask around the marinas about the location of the rip; this can save you alot of time and fuel.
No wire. The dolphin will shy away from it, and that occasional dumb tuna will not touch it at all.
Once in awhile you will get a wahoo hooked right in the corner and are able to boat him.
If you want to set up a catchall spread, you can run a larger tuna witch or big azz Boone unit on a deep planer set up on a shotgun (middle) rig. This can get crowded on a smaller boat, and must be retrieved as soon as another rig gets bit. Putting one of the outside rigs deep for wahoo is a better opiton. You will use wire leader, about 18 inches, with a good swivel.
You may want to post the same question down in the regional forum as well. There are alot of very good fisherman on the coast, and the range of techniques is endless. The very best thing is to take the basics and get out there. Experience teaches best, and when it comes to fishing, is the funnest way to do it.
I have run into small Dolphin about 40 miles out of Biloxi along weed lines before and we caught a 25# at the "G Tower" in 105' of water. I am not a big troller, but there was consistently some beautiful water about 50 miles out last year. I heard some reports of Wahoo being caught around that area and I know someone who caught a 65# at the Triple Rig in about 60' of water. As for wire or mono....mono should out produce wire but you'll lose a lot of baits and lures with Kings.
I think the Grouper trolling is mainly in Florida in shallower water with Stretch 30+s.
I have had luck trolling for grouper with the Mann's stretch lures. These are deep diving lures that get down to 30' plus. The bright yellow or red and white seems to work best. My neighbor at the dock swears by them and gets his limit almost every time. If you are new to the area try trolling around the artificial reefs as well as over them. I always find piles of stuff outside of the main reef that can hold fish. Just watch the relief of the reef, it can grab your lure and they are not cheap! Here are three diffeent species, same lure:
Same thing that Commander said applies here. Most grouper trolling is with stretch 25/30's over structure or bottom that holds the grouper. Locally, grouper are trolled up in the Pass along the rock jetties, uneven bottom in the bay, as well as a pipeline that runs under the bay that is covered with a concrete "mattress".
DO pay attention to the depth over your structure, I have at least a dozen Rapala Magnums and stretch 25/30's that I found floating in the bay each winter....I remove the broken leader, maybe replace a bent treble if the hook found the structure and I've got another good lure! Sometimes it pays off to stop and check something out if you see some color floating in the water.