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Black Grouper Vs Gag Grouper Identification

author
Elaine Sutton
• Saturday, 21 November, 2020
• 26 min read

Grouper typically have a stout body with a large mouth. They can be a variety of shades, colors, and patterns, which help them blend into their surroundings.

gag grouper roughfish professors fisheries emailed attached three groupers
(Source: roughfish.com)

Contents

Note: Gag grouper need to be 22” to keep and the recreational harvest season for them in most Gulf state waters (within nine miles from shore) is July 1 through Dec. 3. They are similar in appearance to the Gag, and have a gently rounded head with a slightly concave or flat caudal (tail) fin.

Note: Black grouper need to be 22” to keep and are open year-round in the Gulf of Mexico. Goliath grouper are marked on their sides, from head to tail, with a series of irregular dark brown vertical bars against a light brown or gray background.

Another quick way to identify them from the other grouper is by their rounded pectoral and caudal (tail) fins. Goliath grouper are prohibited to harvest, and keeping one can land you heavy fines and penalties.

Interestingly, Dr. Bart Henry (also from Loyola) thought both photos were probably Gags, although he didn’t sound certain. I guess this confirms that the two species can be easily confused, but most references claim that it is the juveniles (which these are) that are most similar.

Black : Markings tend to form chain-like patterns (series of rectangles, often with a single horizontal line in the middle); edge of properly (cheek) is smooth; tend to be darker than Gags; either none or only a thin white margin on anal and tail fins; usually have a broad dark band on the outer 1/3 of the anal, soft dorsal and caudal fins. Gag : Markings tend to be vermiculite (wavy) often with “kissing marks”; edge of properly is serrated (which is pronounced in adults, not well-developed in juveniles); tend to be lighter colored; white or blue edge on anal and tail fins; dorsal, anal and caudal fins are more uniformly dark (without a dark band).

grouper fishtrack identifier features
(Source: www.fishtrack.com)

Juveniles found in estuaries and seagrass beds Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters.

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.

gag grouper
(Source: www.etsy.com)

Adult Grouper live in similar places to most Grouper species: reefs, drop-offs, and other rocky structure in 60+ feet of water. 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.

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.

grouper fish florida species fishing snapper keys bass sea chart gag scamp panama reopens yellowfin hind yellowmouth catching rock floridakeystreasures
(Source: floridakeystreasures.com)

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.

According to most people who have caught them, Scamp are the tastiest fish in the family. 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. If you’re set on landing a “Snowier,” get ready for a long ride.

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.

grouper gag types florida
(Source: fishingbooker.com)

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.

Yellow mouth Grouper are uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico, but you can bag yourself a colorful feast all along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. NOAA Fisheries currently manages red snapper, ten grouper and three tile fish species under the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper and Grouper cuttlefish Individual Fishing Quota (If) programs.

An online If species identification guide is now available under the Additional Information tab on the Catch Shares Homepage at: portal.southeast.fisheries.noaa.gov/cs Correctly identifying and reporting all species is important because these data inform both stock assessments and fisheries management.

This guide aims to assist in correctly identifying and reporting species. NOAA Fisheries Southeast is pleased to announce the introduction of our Text Message Alert Program.

The program will allow you to sign up to receive important fishery related alerts via text message. Text alerts you may receive include immediate fishery openings and closures, and any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly.

grouper vs
(Source: www.spearboard.com)

Friendly, helpful and informative anglers really make you feel like part of their online fishing community! HABITAT: Both juveniles and adults frequent inshore holes and ledges, often on deeper grass flats.

DESCRIPTION: Gray or light brown with wavy markings on the side that generally do not form boxes or circles. Color deepens to dark brown shortly after removal from water.

GAME QUALITIES: An aggressive striker and hard fighter at all depths. Offshore bottom fishermen tend toward stout rods with 50- and 80-pound-test lines, but such grouper digging” rigs are strictly necessary only in very deep water.

Many anglers catch lots of Gags on spinning and plug tackle. Hard-lure casters use Deadhead jigs, mostly, while rollers rely on large deep-diving plugs.

Live bait fish of various sorts are the best natural offerings-try Pilchards, Pinkish, Grunts or Sand Perch (Squirrel fish). Dead small fish and large cut baits also work well.

grouper gregory allocation sector amendment doug gulf
(Source: gulfcouncil.blogspot.com)

Backgrounder (Mycteroperca Monaco) OTHER NAMES: Monaco Ararat Again RANGE: Sometimes encountered in the deep Gulf and upper Atlantic, but common only in South Florida, the Keys and the Bahamas. HABITAT: Blacks of many sizes are commonly found around the edges of coral reefs, from about 30 feet of water out to the deepest drop offs.

Even big fish, however, may roam to much shallower patch reefs, especially in cooler seasons. SIZE: The largest of our Mycteroperca groupers, the Black frequently exceeds 50 pounds in weight and can top 100.

TACKLE AND BAITS: For all-around work, ocean gear with lines of 30-pound test or higher gets the call. One key besides a huge helping of luck is to hook the fish while drifting, instead of at anchor.

The drift of the boat adds to the power of the tackle and just might help drag the big fish far enough away from his rocky “hole” that he cannot get back. Pinkish and Pilchards are good too, as are Mullet heads and other large cut baits.

Best casting lures are Deadhead jigs, weighing from 1-4 ounces, depending on depth. Trolling over the reefs with rigged, swimming Mullet, feather-and-strip combos, and large plugs also takes many.

grouper gag fish replica mount
(Source: coasttocoastfishmounts.com)

Yellow fin Grouper (Mycteroperca Vanessa) OTHER NAMES: Red Rock fish, Spotted Grouper, Monaco Cardinal RANGE: Roughly the same as the Backgrounder ; it is most common in the Bahamas. DESCRIPTION: Shows various colors, including two major phases, one of which would make it difficult to tell from the Backgrounder were it not for the bright yellow trim of the pectoral fins.

SCAMP (Mycteroperca final) OTHER NAMES: Brown Grouper, Broom tail Grouper, Amadeo RANGE: Most plentiful along the Gulf Coast and roughly the upper half of the Florida Atlantic Coast. Not common in South Florida and the Bahamas, where it is largely replaced by the similar Yellow mouth Grouper (next).

HABITAT: Sometimes fairly close to shore, but generally sticks to deep reefs and ledges offshore. Elongated rays of the caudal fin give the broom tail appearance.

GAME QUALITIES: Outstanding on light tackle, but most are overpowered by heavy gear. TACKLE AND BAITS: Sheer depth-typical of many Panhandle bottom-fishing drops-may necessitate rods and lines stout enough to handle very heavy sinkers.

Deadhead jigs weighing 3/4 of an ounce to 11/2 ounces get lots of strikes with light gear-and if the bare jig isn't producing, it can be tipped with a strip of cut bait, or a whole small bait fish, and used as a bottom fishing rig. Large diving plugs draw strikes in fairly shallow water-to about 50 feet.

grouper yellowmouth fish nc caught offshore roll fishing mhc notice called features
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

YELLOWMOUTH GROUPER (Mycteroperca interstitial is) OTHER NAMES: Salmon Rock fish RANGE: Most common in the Bahamas but found in South Florida, especially the Keys, and on Gulf reefs. HABITAT: Occasionally on shallow patches, but more on deeper reefs to 120 feet or so near the edge of blue water.

DESCRIPTION: Almost a ringer for the Scamp, except that the inside and corners of the mouth are yellow. GAME QUALITIES: A tough fighter on tackle of reasonable size.

TIGER GROUPER (Mycteroperca Tigris) OTHER NAMES: Monaco NATO RANGE: More common in the Bahamas, but seen fairly often in the Keys. DESCRIPTION: Dark markings against a dusty gray background form vivid oblique stripes on the upper sides.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Heavy spinning and bait casting outfits, along with light boat rods and lines up to 20- or 30-pound test. Tigers will take a variety of artificial, including jigs and trolling plugs.

HABITAT: Juveniles to around 100 pounds frequent mangrove creeks and bays of Southwest Florida, especially the Ten A Thousand Islands and Everglades National Park. Adults can be found at a variety of depths, from holes and channels of coastal waters out to offshore ledges and reefs; also around pilings of bridges and under deepwater docks and piers.

grouper vs
(Source: www.spearboard.com)

Numerous black spots are usually present as well on head, sides and fins. Adults have the same pattern but in more subdued shades of brown that are not so brilliantly contrasted.

The tail is round, as are the posterior, dorsal, anal and pectoral fins. FOOD VALUE: Small ones excellent and big ones darn good which was the main reason for their precipitous decline and total closure in Florida in the 1980s.

Some very big ones have been caught on very light lines in shallow water after being coaxed away from obstructions, but the giant Jewish around deep wrecks defy the heaviest sporting tackle. TACKLE AND BAITS: Bait casting, spinning and even fly tackle make acceptable matchups for the inshore fish, which will and often do hit the full range of lures and flies that are used by Shook casters.

WARSAW GROUPER (Epimetheus nitrites) OTHER NAMES: Giant Grouper, Black Jewish, Garuda Neurite RANGE: All Florida coasts, Atlantic and Gulf, but not reported from the Bahamas. Party boats working offshore waters of the state's upper half both Gulf and Atlantic seem to bring in Warsaw's more often than elsewhere.

Large specimens (which most are) can be somewhat coarse unless the fillets are cut into thin steaks for frying or baking. GAME QUALITIES: Great strength is the hallmark of the Warsaw's fighting arsenal, and the angler who gets one on a manual rod and reel will know he's been in a tug-of-war.

grouper troy frady gag gulf
(Source: gulfcouncil.blogspot.com)

TACKLE AND BAITS: Only the heaviest rods, large reels and lines testing 80 pounds or more are really adequate. Catches on lighter tackle are opportunistic and rare, and usually of the smaller specimens.

Fairly large whole fish, or halved bonito and other hefty cut baits are all productive whenever they can be dropped to within gulping range of a Warsaw. RED GROUPER (Epimetheus Mario) OTHER NAMES: Hero, China De Vivero RANGE: Common throughout Florida; also present in the Bahamas and common in some areas.

HABITAT: Widely distributed from close inshore in many areas of Florida to ledges and wrecks in up to 300 or so feet of water. DESCRIPTION: Overall light or rusty red with whitish spots and large blotches.

No black mark on caudal peduncle fleshy area between tail and posterior dorsal fin. Although Reds will “hole up” like other Groupers, many are hooked on light and fairly light tackle in areas where cover is well scattered, and this gives them the chance to demonstrate their toughness to best advantage.

They are ready strikers on Deadhead jigs, fished with light tackle. HABITAT: Prefers coral reefs, and probably does not roam into water much deeper than 120 feet or so.

grouper gag performance sleeve stripe tail chasin fishing
(Source: chasintail.com)

In the Islands, small specimens are common over inshore patches, and also in creeks and channels. DESCRIPTION: Looks much like the Red Grouper in shape and pattern, although the basic coloration tends more to brown or gray than reddish.

FOOD VALUE: Small ones are excellent; fish over 10 pounds are almost as good, but harvest is currently prohibited in Florida. TACKLE AND BAITS: Most are caught by potluck reef or creek fishermen on light ocean gear or stout bait casting and spinning outfits-all using lines of 12-20 pounds.

Cut fish, conch or squid all make good baits, and Nassau's will also strike jigs, spoons and underwater or surface plugs. Bigger fish on rough coral reefs require heavy tackle for bottom-fishing, and can also be caught by trolling with feather-and-strip baits or with large swimming plugs.

RED HIND (Epimetheus Gustavus) OTHER NAMES: Strawberry, Sandwich Grouper, Cabrillo, Sofia RANGE: Very plentiful on Bahamas reefs in 40-80 feet. Caudal, anal and posterior dorsal fins edged in black.

TACKLE AND BAITS: In some reef areas of the Bahamas, Red Hinds can be caught to the point of boredom by drifting and bouncing the bottom with jigs. ROCK HIND (Epimetheus ascensions) OTHER NAMES: Rock Cod, Cabre Morey, Hero Cabrillo RANGE: Widespread in Florida and the Bahamas, often in company with the Red Hind, but usually less plentiful in southern portions of the range.

grouper fishing river crystal florida gag fish charters shallow water shore catch
(Source: k5fishingcharters.com)

DESCRIPTION: The Rock Hind is mostly brown or tan in background color. Has spots similar to those of the Red Hind, but also is marked by large, dark blotches on the upper sides usually two, but often more.

SIZE: About the same as the Red Hind, but maximum may be slightly larger to 8 or 9 pounds. CONEY (Epimetheus Julius) OTHER NAMES: Golden Coney, Golden Grouper, Cultivar, Crunch RANGE: South Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

DESCRIPTION: A very small Grouper, the Coney is seen in various color phases, including vivid yellow, gold-and-brown, red-and-brown. Grassy (Epimetheus orientates) OTHER NAMES: Enable, Cuba Cabrillo RANGE: South Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

GAME QUALITIES: Aggressive striker, sometimes on surprisingly large lures, but too small to put up a fight. TACKLE AND BAITS: Like the Coney, a common reef catch when small hooks are used.

SPECKLED HIND (Epimetheus drummondhayi) OTHER NAMES: Kitty Mitchell, Calico Grouper RANGE: Both coasts of Florida, but most often caught in the Keys and this is probably because of heavy fishing around well-known seamounts or “humps,” particularly off the Keys towns of Marathon and Islamabad. DESCRIPTION: Generally dark gray or reddish brown, with a profusion of small, creamy or white spots on sides, gill covers and fins.

grouper gag difference
(Source: www.flfish.com)

It is theorized that the great pressures under which they live helps make the flesh more succulent. GAME QUALITIES: Seldom caught on sporting gear, but when they are especially if that gear is a reasonably light outfit, the fight begins strong but diminishes fast as the fish is brought higher in the water column.

MARBLED GROUPER (Epimetheus INERIS) RANGE: Bahamas and South Florida. DESCRIPTION: Dark brown or charcoal with numerous white spots.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Power reels and cut bait fish or squid. SNOWY GROUPER (Epimetheus hiatus) OTHER NAMES: Golden Grouper RANGE: Occurs in deep water throughout Florida and the Western Bahamas; probably Eastern Bahamas as well.

Likes rocky areas, wrecks, channels with hard bottom, jetties, deep holes in grass flats. DESCRIPTION: Color is generally black or charcoal, with blue highlights and tiny white spots or stripes on dorsal fin.

The flesh is mild and white but, sadly, most Sea Bass caught these days are too small to be worthwhile. The occasional outsize specimen should be filleted and skinned, but take care when doing so, because gill covers are sharp and so are the spines.

grouper gag reefs patch
(Source: forums.floridasportsman.com)

GAME QUALITIES: A hard and willing striker on both natural baits and a variety of artificial lures. Sea Bass greedily hit live or dead shrimp and all sorts of cut baits, along with live small bait fish and artificial jigs and underwater plugs.

SAND PERCH (Di plectrum Formosa) OTHER NAMES: Coral Snapper, Squirrel fish, Solo RANGE: Both coasts of Florida, north to south. HABITAT: Sand Perch are found from bays and shorelines to well offshore over a variety of bottoms.

They seem to prefer rather open bottom with patches of grass or scattered rock, and they also like deep channels. DESCRIPTION: Slender, cylindrical shape, with large mouth and wide tail.

Color is tan with brown vertical bars or blotches, and full-length horizontal lines of blue and orange. GAME QUALITIES: Very aggressive, Sand Perch often hit baits and lures meant for much larger fish.

They all have a very similar shape defined by a large head and wide mouth perfect for inhaling prey on the reef. This guide outlines a number of key features to look out for when identifying grouper species.

grouper reefs patch gag difference
(Source: forums.floridasportsman.com)

Coloring in black grouper varies but the side of the body typically has rectangular shaped dark gray blotches. The red grouper can be found over muddy or rocky bottom from Massachusetts to Brazil.

The head and body are dark red to brown with some shading to a lighter pinkish color. Gags are the most common grouper found on rocky bottom, wrecks and rigs in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, in depths from 60 to 250 feet.

The gag grouper's coloration varies, but most are a brownish gray with a pattern of dark worm-like or kiss-shaped markings or articulations on the sides. Also called Jewish, the Goliath is the largest of the groupers, with adults capable of reaching up to 1,000 pounds.

Often found within the 12 fathom bottom contour, it favors rocky shores, holes and various structure. The coloring of the Nassau grouper usually mimics that of the grounds it inhabits, and can range from tawny to pinkish or red with an orange cast.

The fish can change colors from almost white to dark brown depending on its mood. The yellow fin grouper's coloring varies, but the head and body always have oval-shaped dark spots.

grouper
(Source: www.istockphoto.com)

Found on rocky bottom and coral reefs in Bermuda, Florida, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. The body of the broom tail grouper varies from brown to gray or grayish green with oblong dark blotches that form a maze-like pattern.

Technically a Speckled Hind, this fish prefers rocky bottom in depths from 180 to 300-plus feet in the western Atlantic, from North Carolina to the Florida Keys and Gulf of Mexico. As its name implies, the yellow edge grouper has a yellow outline on its dorsal, tail and pectoral fins.

Other defining characteristics include a light grayish brown to red body with bluish white spots. Found from North Carolina to Brazil in rocky areas and soft bottom.

It exhibits a compressed shape with a long pectoral fin and smooth scales. The snowy grouper is distinguished by its spiny dorsal fin and dark saddle-shaped blotch by the tail that extends below the lateral line.

One of the smaller groupers, the Coney is found on coral reefs in subtropical waters throughout the western Atlantic. Smaller fish are much lighter and have numerous dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along the sides.

The scamp, M. final, and black grouper, M. Monaco, closely resemble the gag and often occur in the same habitat. The gag grouper is the most widely distributed grouper in the region, with adults present from North Carolina to Brazil over low- and high-profile hard bottom in waters 60-500 feet deep.

Young gag inhabit estuaries from Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral. Spawning takes place in February off the coast of the Carolina's and in January through March in the Gulf of Mexico.

50% of females mature at 24" Total Length (TL) and 3 years of age. Gag may live for 26 years and grow to be 58 inches in length and weigh up to 81 pounds.

Gag often congregate around rocky ledges and swim in small groups. They are predators of round scad, sardines, porgies, snappers, grunts, crabs, shrimp and squid.

The caudal (tail) and anal fins of the gag have white margins, while the black grouper does not. Open Season: May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met.

If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here. Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.

At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.

Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.

All species must be landed with head and fins intact Recreational Bag Limit sales are prohibited Open Season: May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the commercial Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met.

If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here. Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.

At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.

Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.

But when a grouper takes the bait, that fish could hardly be called an unwelcome guest! Regardless of the exact species of grouper you've hooked, you can expect a rugged fight, the possibility of a huge fish and -- if it's of legal harvest size -- an excellent meal at the end of the day.

More than a few anglers dangling a line off the side of a party or charter boat, expecting the tap of a snapper taking the bait, have been rudely greeted by a sudden, sharp downward thrust of the rod. In truth, the other end of the rig is attached to a grouper that has emerged from a crevice in the hard bottom or some hiding place in a wreck below.

After grabbing the bait, the fish immediately heads back for its “safe house” in the structure. If you're lucky enough to turn such a fish and keep it from tangling or cutting your line on the cover, a tug-o'-war is next in order.

Because several species of grouper routinely reach 30-pound or greater weights, battling them can be brutal warfare. Rather than cut squid or bait fish that attracts the snappers, you are better served by dropping a live minnow.

Cigar minnows, craters, pinkish and finger mullet are some of the more popular of those forage fish. In the northern Gulf, these fish ordinarily stay around rock bottom formations.

Reds are fond of hiding in crevices and holes in rocky limestone bottoms and favor water 10 to 40 feet deep. The fish has a speckled look to its sides, with brown coloration and a yellow tint near the mouth.

The Goliath is a protected species, leaving the Warsaw as the largest of the family that can be harvested. An offshore species, the Warsaw prefers depths of 250 to 650 feet, and is usually found around irregular bottoms or drop offs.

These fish are grayish to dark reddish-brown all over, and their dorsal fin has a very long second spine sticking up. SUMMING IT UP Whether you're heading out for a day of snapper fishing or are targeting grouper specifically, you stand a good chance of tangling this spring and summer with one of these “bulldogs” of the reefs.

Either way, hang on tight to your rod -- that is, if you plan to take both it and the fish home at the end of the day! Along all the coasts of Florida and the Bahamas, from inshore estuaries out to the deepest waters offshore Groupers are found.

They are the most widely available of the game fish and also offer a great number of differing varieties. The species have now started to make a comeback and have been renamed Goliath Grouper) are the most widely distributed.

Most of the other species, Nassau, Red Hind, Black, Yellow fin and Scamp live in and around the coral reefs of the extreme south of Florida. Groupers live close to the bottom and are always associated with some type of submerged structure i.e. reef or wreck.

Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters. Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities.

Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities. Grouper are born as females but can later become male. Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters.

Grouper spawn between January and May with some of the more tropical species spawning year-round. Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring grouper to the surface. They feed on squid, crustaceans, and fish. The Florida record is 42lbs 4ozs caught near St. Augustine Inlet.

Kevin Kelly displays a Goliath Grouper killed unfortunately by RED TIDE in 2005. Jewish now known as the Goliath Grouper (Epimetheus Tamara) can attain weight up to 800lbs and is more common in the south of Florida than the north.

Goliath Troopers are found nearshore often around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges. Goliath Grouper spawn over summer months and have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.

Nassau grouper form large spawning aggregations, making this species highly vulnerable to over harvest. The species is found in tropical and subtropical waters as deep as 400 feet, from North Carolina to Brazil, including the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Spawning occurs from March to July, and females release an average of 90 thousand to 3 million pelagic eggs. The species may live up to 17 years or longer, and reach a length of 23 inches and a weight of 10 pounds.

Red hind feed on small fishes, crabs, shrimps and squid. Red hind will hide in holes and crevices and capture their prey by ambushWorld record 6lbs 1oz.

Adults are associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep. Black grouper spawn between May and August, and they are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that young predominantly female who transform into males as they grow larger.

Larger individuals of this species are generally found in greater depths, and they feed on fish and squid. Undergoes sex reversal from female to male in latter part of life; specific name translates to “venomous,” alluding to the fact that this fish, perhaps more frequently than other groupers, is associated with ciguatera poisoning; feeds on fish and squid. Florida record 34lbs 6oz caught near Key Largo.

Young undergo a sex transformation from female to male as they become older.Florida's record is 28lbs 6ozs. Yellow mouth Grouper (Mycteroperca interstitial is) has a color tan or brown with darker spots, or a network of spots, fused into lines; distinct yellow wash behind the jaws; yellow around the eyes; outer edges of fins yellowish.

Found OFFSHORE over reefs and rocks; not as common as scamp in the Gulf; range limited to southern Florida. Undergoes sex reversal, young individuals female, older individuals becoming male; young fish are bi-colored, dark above white below; feeds on small fish and crustaceans.

Warsaw Grouper (Epimetheus nitrites) is uniformly dark brown, with no distinct markings; dorsal fin with 10 spines; second spine very long (much longer than third); caudal fin squared-off; rear nostril larger than front nostril; young have yellow caudal fin with dark saddle on caudal peduncle; some whitish spots on body. On May 24th 2014, Cullen Greer reeled in a six-and-a-half-foot-long, 297-pound Warsaw grouper while fishing in Venice, Louisiana.

The most shocking part of this story may be that it won't go down as the largest fish ever caught in the state. If the catch does get verified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it would become the fifth-largest ever caught in the state.

It could also go down in the state record books as the third-largest Warsaw caught by a hand crank, according to Greer. Leaders need be substantial as these fish are usually on the large size and dive straight back into the whole in which they live.

As the State Regulations are in constant flux we advise anglers to refer to www.MyFWC.com/fishing for the latest information.

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Sources
1 www.yummly.com - https://www.yummly.com/recipes/grouper-with-sauce
2 www.myrecipes.com - https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pan-seared-grouper-balsamic-brown-butter-sauce
3 www.bettycrocker.com - https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/grouper-with-lemon-basil-cream-sauce/d96ce7ea-2a27-4dc6-b644-c4a588c47629
4 www.allrecipes.com - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/214866/grouper-with-lemon-white-sauce/
5 highheelstohotwheels.com - https://highheelstohotwheels.com/2015/03/pan-seared-grouper-with-lemon-white-wine-butter-sauce/
6 www.foodandwine.com - https://www.foodandwine.com/seafood/fish/grouper/grouper-recipes
7 www.allrecipes.com - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/103991/broiled-grouper-parmesan/