Black grouper are found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil. They are particularly associated with the southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean.
Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature black grouper. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect black grouper during their peak spawning period.
Minimum size limits protect immature black grouper. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.
Groupers are managed separately by commercial and recreational sector in Puerto Rico. Seasonal closure for black, red, tiger, yellow fin, and yellow edge groupers from February 1 through April 30.
Reading Time: 7minutesGroupers are some of Florida’s most iconic fish species. From monster Goliath's to delicious Scamps, these big bottom-dwellers are a favorite on most Floridian fishing trips.
In this article, you can learn all about the different types of Grouper in Florida. One of the largest species of Grouper in the Atlantic, Backgrounder are loved by commercial crews and recreational anglers alike.
The average catch in Florida is around half that length, weighing between 5 and 20 pounds. Backgrounder live around rocky bottoms and reefs on both sides of the Sunshine State.
They spend their summers spawning in much shallower seas, though, as little as 30 feet deep. Commonly known as “Grey Grouper,” these guys are a staple of reef fishing trips around the Gulf and up the Atlantic.
They don’t grow as big as Backgrounder, usually maxing out somewhere around 50 pounds. However, younger Gags can be found in estuaries and even seagrass beds, so don’t be surprised if you hook one while you’re on the hunt for Redfish and other inshore species.
Bigger fish hunt around muddy and rocky coastal waters. Young Goliath's will head right into estuaries and look for food around oyster bars.
Their huge size and fearless curiosity made them an easy target, and they were overfished almost to extinction in the late 20th century. Luckily, Goliath Grouper are strictly protected these days, and you can only fish for them on a catch-and-release basis.
From teaming up with other predators to catch their dinner to reportedly fanning bait out of traps for an easy snack, they’re far brighter than most people give them credit for. Sadly, this intelligence comes with the same natural curiosity that put Goliath Grouper in hot water.
Nassau Grouper are critically endangered, and their numbers are still falling. If you come across one, count yourself lucky for the chance to meet it and make sure it swims off unharmed.
Nothing says “reef fishing in Florida” like a boastful of big, tasty Red Grouper. These deep-water hunters are the reason people bother to go offshore when there are so many fish in the shallows.
The average Red Grouper weighs somewhere in the 5–10 lb range, and anything over 2 feet long is a rare catch. You won’t come across them in much less than 100 feet of water, and you can easily find them in three or four times that depth.
They also grow much bigger than Scamp, meaning you’re in for a real feast if you catch one. They’re one of the easiest deep-water fish to identify, even though catching one is pretty rare.
NOAA has declared Speckled Hind a Species of Concern, mainly because they have so little data on them. If Goliath Grouper are the kings of the shallows, these guys dominate the deep.
Add in the fact that they live several hundred feet down, where all fish taste great, and they become the dream catch of many deep dropping enthusiasts. Their dappled, red body and bright yellow fins provide camouflage around the deep, rocky structure that they hunt around.
Yellow fin’s scientific name, Mycteroperca Vanessa, roughly translates to “Poisonous Grouper.” This is because they tend to have very high levels of ciguatoxin. They’re slightly smaller than Scamp on average, but many anglers say that they taste just as good.
Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: Epinephrine Genus: Mycteroperca Species: Binomial name Mycteroperca Monaco Synonyms Monaco Ararat Parr, 1787 Serra nus Monaco Play, 1860 Serra nus runners Play, 1860 Serra nus decimals Play, 1860 Serra nus Ararat Store, 1860 Serra nus cyclopomatus Play, 1861 Serra nus latepictus Play, 1861 Isotropic again Play, 1867 Mycteroperca Monaco var. Myctoperca Monaco has an oblong, literally compressed body with a standard length which is 3.3 to 3.5 times its depth.
It has an evenly rounded properly with no incisions or lobes at its angle. The caudal fin is truncate to marginate, although it may be convex if spread widely.
This species has an overall t’s an olive gray color and is marked with dark blotches and brassy hexagonal spots over the head and flanks. This fish attains a maximum total length of 150 centimeters (59 in), although they are more common at around 70 centimeters (28 in) and a maximum published weight of 100 kilograms (220 lb).
Mycteroperca Monaco occurs over rocky bottoms and coral reefs at depths of 10 to 30 meters (33 to 98 ft), however in the eastern Gulf of Mexico it is normally encountered at depths of more than 30 meters (98 ft). It is usually a solitary species, the adults feeding mainly on fishes, such as grunts, snapper and herrings, and the juveniles feed on crustaceans.
Black groupers have been recorded forming seasonal feeding aggregations along the outer continental shelf off Brazil, these coincide with spawning aggregations of some fish species the groupers prey on. They are is a monastic protogynous hermaphrodites, and they form spawning aggregations and these have been reported from in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
Females attain sexual maturity at around 5years old and at a length of around 82.6 centimeters (32.5 in) and the change of sex to males occurs when they are around 15 years old and at a mean length of 121.4 centimeters (47.8 in). Mycteroperca Monaco is quite tasty and an important food fish.
An annotated and illustrated catalog of the grouper, rock cod, hind, coral grouper and lyre tail species known to date (PDF). World Register of Marine Species.
^ Scholar, W. N.; Cricket, R. & van der Loan, R. As a service to our readers, we’ve compiled this handy to the grouper species you’re likely to find in Key West. Because of its mild, delicious flavor and the strong appeal it has as a game fish, the Backgrounder (Mycteroperca Monaco) is one of the most popular targets to fish for in the Key West Area.
While the average size is much smaller, the black grouper can grow up to almost five feet long and weigh up to and over 100 pounds. The Backgrounder has a distinctively beautiful appearance, ranging in color from olive to a blotchy gray and displaying unique patterns that radiate from the eye and zigzag towards the rear of the fish in intricate lines. The Backgrounder can occasionally be found in the North Atlantic, they’re much more common further south in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.
Because of its size and its tendency to dart back into the rocks once hooked, the Backgrounder can be a bit of a challenge to land. Appearance Averaging between one and two feet in length and weighing anywhere from 2-15 or so pounds, the red grouper is a moderately sized fish.
True to its name, this fish displays a light brown or reddish hint and are commonly marked with a number of white spots. Interestingly, the coloration of the red grouper can change very quickly when they’re excited or aggravated, especially when they’re spawning or protecting their territory.
Here in Key West, the red grouper is extremely common, with the younger fish preferring seagrass habitats but moving to rocky or reef waters as they mature. Remember that schools of red grouper tend to congregate near the sea floor, so heavier tackle will get you the best results.
Regulations for the red grouper are a bit complex, but there’s a 20 minimum for keeping them and it’s open season year round in state waters. The Gag Grouper prefers warmer waters and is most commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
A bottom feeding fish, the gag prefers to live near structures like coral reefs, rock formations, and ledges. Although there has been some talk of reducing it of late, there is currently a federal ban on keeping the incredible Goliath Grouper (Epimetheus Tamara).
The Goliath Grouper is an extremely broad fish, with its width equal to almost half its length near the middle of its body. They’re typically found in shallow waters less than 150 feet deep and tend to gather near rock and coral formations, as well as near shipwrecks.
If you’re brave enough to try and land one of these huge fish, the first thing you need to bring is your lunch and a lot of endurance. Their size alone is enough to scare off even the toughest would-be fishermen, but they’ll also fight tooth and nail to stay in the water.