Tampa Grouper Fishing – Without a Boat


Who needs a boat? With a full moon weekend, I drove to Merry Pier in St. Pete Beach for a little grouper digging. Cut and whole sardines were the bait of choice- I tried live pinfish, with no results. Arriving early, the tide was low, and just starting to come in. A couple ounces of lead allowed me to cast to the rock piles just east of ‘the bowling alley’, the pilings left from a wrecked pier just north of the Merry Pier.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the same pattern repeated. As soon as the tide turned, there was a nice incoming current which soon gave way to barely moving water. It was during this surge that all my grouper were caught; once the tide slacked off, so did the bite.  Most of the grouper were in the 12″ to 16″ range, but there were keepers. I landed a 23″ Saturday, and a 25″ on Sunday. And I lost a few big fish, too.


Tampa Grouper

I’m used to dropping a line down on grouper from a boat. When you hook up, the real battle is getting the fish off the bottom; once that’s accomplished, then it’s just a matter of cranking them vertically 40 to 120 feet straight up to the boat. Fishing from the pier is a bit different. When you hook up, you need to drag the grouper away from the rocks and structure, then haul it horizontally for 40 to 120 feet to the pier; all the while, the grouper is fighting along the bottom. A very different type of fishing, but a lot of fun when they’re biting.

American Red Snapper

While I was ashore, my friend Peter was in the Gulf catching big American Red Snapper. He caught and released a couple dozen- they’re thick out there if you find the right spot! Congrats.

5 Responses to “Tampa Grouper Fishing – Without a Boat”

  1. Dan Says:

    Ill be down in Madeira Beach the week of jan 9-16 and plan to do some light fishing off the beach, pier and around Johns Pass. Are you familiar with that area?
    Im from KY and mainly do largemouth and croppie fishing, what kind of bait and test line would you recommend for your area.
    What kind of fish will be biting in early Jan in that area.

  2. Steve Says:


    KY, huh? I’m a Murray State grad myself. Plenty of fish around John’s Pass, but the weather forecast isn’t very promising. You might want to consider going out on one of the ‘headboats’ from John’s Pass. They offer 1/2 and full day trips, and you’re pretyy much guaranteed to bring back fish regardless of the weather.

  3. Lena O Says:

    Interesting article. Keep writing these good stuff and you’ll have me coming back for more.

  4. James S. McDonnell Says:

    Keep working ,great job!

  5. jojo saluib Says:

    what is the most expensive type of grouper