They engulf prey whole by opening their large mouths, dilating their gill covers, rapidly drawing in a current of water, and inhaling the food. Large sharks and carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper.
Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil. Annual catch limits are used for red grouper in the commercial and recreational fisheries.
These fisheries are closed when their annual catch limit is projected to be met. Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper.
The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect red grouper during their peak spawning period. To reduce by catch, there are restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish.
Similar Species: Nassau grouper, E. stratus (large black spot on caudal peduncle) Prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F. Like many other grouper, red grouper undergo a sex reversal, young individual females becoming males as they age.
Red grouper is available year-round with peak catches in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico occurring during the summer and fall. Red grouper flesh is white and lean with a notable lack of bones, and is very forgiving when cooked as it remains moist, firm, and has large flakes.
Red grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they all begin life as a female and eventually some may transform into males. Red grouper have large mouths with a slight under-bite, which allows them to eat their prey whole by dilating their gill covers and rapidly inhaling.
Red grouper act as “marine engineers” in their ecosystem by hollowing out flat-bottomed areas to create their home and attract mates. This process provides habitat to other species such as spiny lobster, black grouper, red porgy, and vermilion snapper.
Allocates an annual catch limit between commercial (76 percent) and recreational (24 percent) fishers Restricts certain gear types to reduce by catch Sets minimum size restrictions to protect immature red grouper Establishes year round and seasonal area closures for both commercial and recreational fishers to protect spawning stock and essential fish habitat The If program allocates shares of the total commercial catch limit amongst individual fishers.
Under the program, each fisher owns a share of the quota and can choose to fish it at anytime during the open season. Strict commercial reporting requirements prevent fishers from harvesting more than their individual allocation.
The Reef Fish FMP has been a success in allowing red grouper populations to bounce back from overfishing that had occurred on and off in the Gulf since the 1970s. They are fairly long-lived and come together to spawn in large numbers, characteristics that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure.
The Gulf of Mexico population in the was declared overfished in 2000 and then was rebuilt to target levels in 2007, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. The South Atlantic stock is no longer overfished, but a 2010 assessment showed it hasn’t been fully rebuilt.
Grouper fisheries have high impacts on nontarget species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium reported. Venting tools are also employed to make it easier for reef fish to survive when released.
In the United States, red grouper management measures include permits, annual catch limits, fishing quotas, marine protected areas that are closed to fishing, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits, and data reporting requirements. Red grouper are beautiful fish that can weight very heavy on the hook, even when caught in smaller sizes.
They’re tough predators, can put quite a fight and can provide the angler with a lot of thrills. They prefer muddy and rocky bottoms, but can be caught in a variety of habitats such as open seas, shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, coral reefs, rocky shores, sandy shores, estuaries waters, intertidal flats, intertidal marshes, coastal saline lagoons, coastal freshwater lagoons, and karts.
In colder months they move back inshore, and sometimes toucan get big ones in water as shallow as 20 ft. Like most predator fish that feed close to the bottom, when a red grouper grabs the bait and feels resistance, it will try to run to the nearest hiding place.
Don’t let them do that, and the first thing to do after hooking one is crank the reel and lift the rod up as much as toucan. However, they are also interested in lures, and catching them with jigs and jerk baits in shallower water can be very entertaining.
A red grouper will basically gulp any fish passing by, if it looks appetizing and it can fit in its mouth. Make sure though that you hook them by the dorsal fin or their lower jaw, to live longer.
Cutting bigger bait fish in half at a 45° angle seems to have quite a great effect on the presentation, resulting in more bites. Some lures to try out are Your Minnows, Mirror Deep Divers (red, orange and black silver), Salas Jigs in Green / Blue Sardine, or squid imitating jigs such as the ones from Charities.
Shakespeare makes quite a few Ugly Sticks for this purpose, with an OK price / quality ratio. So, equip your rod with a 4/0 Penn Senator or Abu Garcia Seascape bait casting reel.
It’s always best to go with braided line for groupers, because it gives you a better control of the fish right away, as it doesn’t stretch. Depending on the bait used, depth and fish size targeted, your line can be between 40-60lb.