Deep Dropping In The Florida Keys

Fishing around deepwater bottom structure for snowy and warsaw grouper
Steve Dougherty
With the seasonal closure banning the harvest of gag, black, red, scamp and yellowmouth grouper throughout the state, anglers looking for grouper fillets need to look deep. Fortunately anglers can still take home tasty snowy and warsaw grouper.
Along the edge of the continental shelf extensive deepwater communities exist in 500 to 800 foot (150 to 250 meters) depths. As light penetration decreases, even the smallest structures will hold life. To pinpoint promising areas set your depth finder to 200khz and keep it zoomed to Bottom Lock.
Anglers were once able to keep multiple deep water grouper, but like the shallow water species stringent regulations have resulted in smaller bag limits. The limit is now one snowy and one warsaw grouper per day, per boat. To eliminate the possibility of juveniles, fish large baits like whole squid or bonito slabs. The extreme depth and pressure change makes these fish un-releasable, so you must make your first fish count.
Typical rigs that once consisted of multiple hooks have now been streamlined to present one or two baits. Circle-hooks are a must, with 10/0 Mustad Demon Circle hooks providing a solid connection for the long battle to the surface.
A prized snowy grouper comes to the surface.
Deep dropping isn't something you'll do every day, but it's a fun change of pace if the dolphin or wahoo bite is off.

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