Grouper Fishing Florida's Big Bend - Capt. William Toney

June 02, 2019
0 Votes

June is a month where fish and humans adapt to the heat, using cut baits like mullet, pinfish, lizard fish, and ladyfish. Cut bait disperses more scent than live bait, and artificial lures like MirrOlure LiL Johns can give an edge on hot days. Grouper season begins on Saturday, with gag grouper being the predominate species in the big bend area. Local offshore captains are looking to capitalize on catch and release fish since December.

Summary of Key Points

  • Expertise of Capt. William Toney: Experienced in Florida fishing, particularly grouper fishing in the Big Bend area.
  • Ideal Baits for Grouper: Emphasizes the effectiveness of cut bait like mullet, pinfish, lizard fish, and ladyfish.
  • Water Temperature and Bait: Discusses how higher water temperatures near 80 degrees make cut bait more effective due to increased scent dispersion.
  • Artificial Lures: Recommends scented lures like MirrOlure LiL Johns, especially in warm water conditions.
  • Locating Gag Grouper: Details on gag grouper habits and best depths (12 feet for potential keepers, 30-40 feet for more realistic catches).
  • Regulations and Best Times: Highlights the legal catch limits and sizes for gag grouper, and the importance of high incoming tides for fishing.

Florida's Big Bend is a paradise for anglers, especially those in pursuit of the elusive gag grouper. My name is Capt. William Toney and I am a seasoned expert in Florida fishing, here to share my insights on how to successfully catch grouper in this unique and fertile fishing ground.

In The Spread is one of the world's premier sport fishing video companies and educational outlets for demonstration, explanation and insight on how to catch fish. Get inside access to our video library by becoming a member.

The Secret of Bait: Cut versus Live

I always preach the superiority of cut bait over live bait, especially in warmer waters. My years of experience have taught me that the intense scent dispersed by cut bait like mullet, pinfish, lizard fish, and ladyfish is irresistible to grouper. The analogy he uses is quite apt: cut bait in warm water is like leftovers in a trash can in the kitchen, spreading scent far and wide, as opposed to leftovers in a fridge.


Even cutting the tail off of a pinfish will create more scent, attracting more grouper.

Capt. William Toney

Artificial Lures: A Tactical Edge

On days when the water and air are hot, artificial lures can give an angler the edge. I recommends scented lures, such as MirrOlure LiL Johns. These lures can mimic the scent of live bait, making them an effective tool in an angler's arsenal.

The Predominant Grouper: Gag Grouper

The Big Bend area is known for its population of gag grouper. While it's possible to catch a keeper in shallow waters at around 12 feet, more realistic and fruitful depths are between 30 to 40 feet.

Regulations to Keep in Mind

Florida grouper fishing, particularly for gag grouper, comes with its regulations. Each angler is allowed two gag groupers with a minimum size of 24 inches, and there's no take for the captain or crew. These rules ensure sustainable fishing practices. State of Florida changed the gag grouper season in 2023, so be sure to always check with the FWC Grouper page for current rules and regulations. You sure don't want to get in a pickle due to not knowing the laws.

Best Times for Grouper Fishing

Timing is crucial when it comes to fishing. I advise that the high incoming tide, particularly in the afternoon this weekend, will be the best time to aim for a big catch. He notes, "To catch fish, you must first find fish," underscoring the importance of understanding grouper habits and tides.


Grouper fishing in Florida's Big Bend is not just about the catch; it's about understanding the environment, the behavior of the fish, and using the right techniques and baits. His expertise makes him an invaluable guide for any angler looking to succeed in Florida grouper fishing.

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
Login to leave a review.

User Reviews

There are no reviews yet.