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.
Dr. Frank Jordan (Loyola Univ) said he's not intimately familiar with the groupers, but did an embarrassing (for me) amount of research to end up agreeing with Dr. Marie. 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). In photos, it is typically difficult to see preopercular spines and the scales are too small to count, so we must rely mostly on the markings/coloration.
NOAA has a helpful PDF that graphically compares similar Grouper species: Other grouper such as the Black (Mycteroperca Monaco), Yellow edge (Epimetheus flavolimbatus), Scamp (Mycteroperca final) and Snowy Grouper can be found in the marketplace but in limited quantities, due to the fact that smaller amounts of these species are harvested.
Gag fish will be marketed as Black grouper ; they are very similar in taste and texture. Both of these fish have a high oil and moisture content which makes them suitable to cook many ways.
Grouper meat cooks up very firm, with big flakes and holds its moisture better than many other fish. Other ways you can cook Grouper is to poach, steam, bake, broil and sauté and don't forget that it is excellent soups or chowders.
If you are baking or broiling Grouper stick to the general rule of cooking fish, which is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If you do find some large fillets make sure to butterfly them first if you are planning on grilling them.
This entry was posted in Spearfishing and tagged Best Boating Blog, Differences BetweenGrouper, Grouper Differences, Slide Moor Blog, Spearfishing, What's a Backgrounder, What's a Grouper, What's a Goliath Grouper on November 11, 2013, by John D'Radio. If you are doing any type of spearfishing for keep, it is critical that you know the difference between these commonly mistaken grouper, especially because one is illegal to keep, and another has a restricted harvest.
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. 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. 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. They live around rocky bottom up to 1,000 feet down, so you may have to travel 20 miles or more to get to them.
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.
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.
Reading Time: 4minutes Snappers and Groupers are the nation’s favorite food fish. Every summer, thousands of anglers hit the coast to fill their coolers with tasty fillets.
You can find them on fish counters and restaurant menus all around the country. This article breaks down Snapper vs. Grouper by looks, size, taste, and more to try and answer that question.
Grouper and Snapper are both big families, with a variety of weird and wonderful fish in them. Groupers have big, wide mouths, built for inhaling fish whole.
Groupers are generally rounder and more thickly built than Snappers. Cuber Snapper have big, wide mouths, just like Groupers.
If you’re not sure what you’ve caught, it’s best to check it against common species in your area. These titans can top 1,000 pounds, and even “small” adults are in the triple digits.
The biggest species of Snapper in North America is Cuber. After Cuber, the next biggest species is world-famous Red Snapper, which maxes out at around 40–50 pounds.
Goliath Grouper aside, there are several species which blow the biggest Snappers right out of the water. The world record for Warsaw Grouper is a staggering 436 pounds 12 ounces.
Speckled Hind, Gag, and Snowy Grouper all outgrow Red Snapper. Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Red Snapper, aka America’s favorite fish.
Every summer, anglers flock to the Gulf of Mexico in their thousands to bag one. They’re so popular that the Gulf Red Snapper season is one of the most tightly-regulated on the planet.
Red Snapper have a delicate, juicy meat that very few fish can compete with. Scamp produces large fillets of sweet, white flesh that many people swear is even tastier than Red Snapper.
Whether you’re reeling in Yellowtail Snapper on a shallow reef or hauling up Yellow mouth Grouper offshore, you’re in for a lot of fun and a tasty treat to show for it.