The 2020 July through December commercial catch limit is 46,181 pounds gutted weight. According to the accountability measure, commercial harvest must close to prevent the catch limit from being exceeded.
Scientist believes that this transformation occurs once the female has reached a certain sexual maturity, so they switch from growing eggs to fertilizing them. This is a major advantage for the reproduction cycle as it leaves the energy-consuming task of growing eggs to the younger, healthier, and stronger female fish.
The Goliath grouper can be found living along the coast of Florida, through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the eastern part of the Atlantic. Despite its massive size, Goliath groupers find much comfort being in tight quarters that allow them to be in touch with the walls, which makes this exhibit a perfect fit.
They provide groupers a fantastic spot for ambushing prey such as shrimp, fish, octopus, spiny lobsters, and young sea turtles. But don’t be fooled, although these animals would rather sit in a blue hole for a majority of their days, they are also one of the top-level predatory fish on many coral reefs.
Unfortunately, the destruction of mangrove nursery habitats, overfishing, and increased human activity along the coastlines have threatened this grouper species. Grouper are one of the most popular species of bottom fish, highly sought after by both sportsmen and diners.
Their aggressive nature, heavyweight fighting ability and potential to grow to very large size makes them a trophy any angler is proud to add to their resume. The firm flesh and mild flavor make them very popular as a food source where ever they are found.
The term grouper does not apply to a single species of fish in the way striped bass or albacore does. Instead, grouper is a general term applied to a larger group of related sub-species all of which share similar traits.
Likewise, grouper can mean any of almost 100 different fish worldwide including red, yellow fin, black or even the enormous Goliath. Speaking of where they can be found, various species range from New England to South America, including the waters of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.
Regardless of where you may be fishing and specific species targeted all grouper prefer to make their homes near cover, an important element when it comes to hiding from predators and hunting for their own prey. When hunting they will use the hide as a point of concealment from which they will ambush passing prey with a lightning fast gulping attack.
This is not without reason, or because the captain likes running the engines, it is because that is where the big boys live. It is common for juveniles to spend the early part of their life in the grass beds or backwater pockets, places that provide cover (at least for smaller fish) and plenty of food without the larger predators.
If your local waters include the habitat and structure grouper need there is no reason some of those juveniles would not take up permanent residence. Look for deeper shipping channels, reefs or artificial structure and fish it the same as you would offshore areas.
The technique you select will depend on specific species targeted, water conditions and equipment available. In fact, their physical build is not well suited for long distance travels but is instead intended for short bursts of speed and brute strength.
Popular live baits include pinkish, craters, sardines, grunts, spots and various minnows. When selecting live bait it is always best to pick a species the local groupers are feeding on naturally.
Letting the line slack and waiting for the fish relax and move into the open may give you a second chance. Although larger spinning gear can be used successfully it is not as effective pulling large grouper from the depths.
Conventional rigs allow the angler to gain more leverage, essential to over powering large fish headed to cover. The biggest differences between the various techniques are the equipment needed, and this is usually what determines which style an angler will utilize.
For those who are unfamiliar with the fish finder it is a simple combination consisting of a leader, sinker and 1 or 2 hooks. When used the sinker sits on the bottom and the hooks allow bait to float in water column.
Many anglers will use cut bait when bottom fishing, such as squid, which reduced the need to collect and maintain live species. Most anglers who troll for grouper are targeting larger species with the goal of taking them for consumption.
Set up involves using wire line and trolling weights, necessary to keep tackle at deeper depths. Because you are using wire line heavy-duty rod & reel is necessary, including roller guides and tip.
Once hooked up this method of trolling allows you to use the boat to pull grouper away from structure limiting its ability to enter hide. Rig consists of long leader (sometimes several feet in length), an egg sinker and size 8/0 or 9/0 circle hook.
Leaders can be constructed of either monofilament or fluorocarbon, but the latter will decrease visibility and increase strikes. Using a longer leader will allow heavy drag setting without restraining live bait movement.
They prefer to be able to seek shelter and hide, and although their name implies that they stay together, they can also be very solitary fish. Grouper will chase a bait occasionally, but by far they prefer to ambush their prey.
Their coloration and ability to change hues and shades to identify with their surroundings give them that ambush capability. Anglers find that medium heavy bottom fishing tackle is the best way to approach the grouper.
Conventional reels in the thirty- to fifty-pound class teamed with a medium heavy boat rod will do the trick. Grouper feed on other small fish, crustaceans like crabs or crawfish, and squid.
When an easy opportunity swims buy they rush out, inhale their prey, and quickly return to their lair. A good rod and reel, with fifty-pound test monofilament line, can handle almost all the grouper you may encounter.
The terminal tackle consists of a sinker, leader, and hook arranged one of two ways. Even when the rig is dropped right into the bottom structure, it seldom hangs up, something charter captains love.
More serious grouper anglers will opt for the second approach, called a live bait rig. Advertised as virtually invisible to fish, it does seem to draw more strikes than regular monofilament.
Serious grouper anglers will crank the drag down on their reel as hard as they can, often using a pair of pliers to lock it down. The idea is to stop the grouper from taking the line and returning to his structure home.
When a grouper strikes, anglers will lay their rod on the rail and start winding as hard as they can. When a grouper makes it into a rock or reef, many anglers will simply break off the line and try again.
In the Gulf of Mexico, grouper anglers use magnum diving plugs that will go as deep as thirty feet or more. Strip baits are cut and attached to a double hooked trolling feather.
The wire line method is popular in and around south Florida in the winter when big black grouper move into the shallower reefs. Sometimes thirty yards in diameter, they are an ideal habitat for black grouper.
When one occurs, the boat moves directly away from the reef to drag the fish away from its hole. A head boat that provides the bait and tackle is an ideal way to bring some home to eat.
Deep-sea fish provide a very challenging fight for the beginner and advanced fisher alike. For example, groupers may be found near docks, fishing buildings, or other areas that provide a great place to hide.
Just as important, fishers need to understand that the grouper does have an aggressive streak when presented with bait and lures that catch its attention. The higher the poundage on the line, the heavier the fish a person can catch, so aim high when going for groupers.
A large, live bait sunk to the bottom of the ocean probably results in the most success with the grouper. If going for artificial lures, try to find jerk baits that emulate the look and feel of an injured fish.
When reeling in the line, let the lure more in erratic and jerking actions to attract the grouper's attention. Map out the location using appropriate nautical charts and seek out deep water with thick rock groupings littering the bottom of the ocean bed.
These ledges typically hang over fairly rocky areas and provide excellent shade and protection for the mysterious and often quite aloof and grumpy grouper. Anyone trying to catch a grouper should hire a professional to not only get them out on the water safely, but to also provide even better tips for fishing.