“Young gag grouper will live in oyster reefs, estuaries and seagrass beds from Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The coloration of red grouper helps to distinguish this species from gag with its head and body being dark reddish brown, shading pink or reddish or even pale pink along the lower part of its body,” Nash said.
“In North Carolina, gag will typically spawn in February and have clear larvae, which then make their way into estuaries. As water temperatures start to go down in the fall, juvenile gag will migrate from estuaries to offshore hard bottom habitat and larger members of their species,” said Seward.
Seward noted that all grouper are considered protogynous intersex, “that is they start their lives as females, and a part of the population will morph, or make the change, to males as they get older. Females start to reach sexual maturity when they are about 24 inches in total length and about 3 years old.
They are voracious predators, and will feed on whatever they can capture including scad, snapper, grunt, sardines, crabs, porgies, shrimp and squid, said Seward. Red grouper sitting on sand habitat 45 degrees to camera full body view mouth open.
In addition to their color, red grouper can be distinguished from gag by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin. “The red grouper is also a protogynous intersex and females are sexually mature by the time they reach 4 years old,” Seward said.
Females typically will let go an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that stay at the surface for between 30-40 days before finally settling down to the bottom. “Red grouper may live to be as old as 25 years of age, with older specimens reaching a size of 32.5 inches and up to 25 pounds.
They will feed on lobster, shrimp, octopus, crabs and fish that are found close to their preferred reef habitat,” Seward said. Bottom fishing is the best way to catch gag grouper, using live bait, including squid and cigar minnows.
Use a depth finder to find deep-water rock ledges, artificial reefs and shipwrecks, a gag grouper ’s favorite hiding place. An annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure runs Jan. 1-April 30 in federal waters off the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, except red grouper, for which the season remains closed until June 1.
Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for the snapper grouper species. “This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed and sold before the annual catch limit is reached and held in cold storage by a dealer,” said North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Assistant to Councils Steve Poland, who is also a representative with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
A stock assessment update, Sedan 53, for red grouper was completed in February 2017 using data through 2015. Therefore, on Sept. 27, 2017, NFS sent a letter to the council stating that the South Atlantic red grouper stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding.
“For red grouper, this final rule extends the closure season formerly from January to April, to January through May of each year for the next ten years for the commercial and recreational portions off North and South Carolina, and establishes a commercial trip limit,” said Poland. This final rule establishes a commercial trip limit for red grouper harvested in the South Atlantic EEA of 200 pounds, gutted weight.
The trip limit is expected to help rebuild the red grouper stock by discouraging directed commercial fishing for the species, although it is not likely to substantially reduce the current level of commercial harvest of red grouper, according to the National Register. “The council selected a commercial trip limit that in combination with extending the spawning season cloture for red grouper off North Carolina and South Carolina would help keep down harvest numbers to help rebuild the stock,” Poland said.
You can help pay some cost by sponsoring a day on CRO for as little as $100 or by donating any amount you're comfortable with. Lunar tail grouper mouth (Various lute) in the Red Sea, Egypt.
Red grouper with open mouth and cleaner wrasse, Bali, Indonesia. Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus) with open mouth, Wandered Jetty dive site, Manual Island, Damper Straits, Raja Am pat, Indonesia.
Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus) with open mouth, Wandered Jetty dive site, Manual Island, Damper Straits, Raja Am pat, Indonesia. Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus) with open mouth, Wandered Jetty dive site, Manual Island, Damper Straits, Raja Am pat, Indonesia.
Eye of a Peacock grouper (Cephalopods Argus) in the Red Sea, Egypt. A school of Golden Really follow a Giant Grouper for protection during a shark feed.
Groupers are a species of fish that belong to the Epinephrine subfamily of the family Serranidae. As telecasts, all types of grouper have a stout body and a large mouth and are weak swimmers.
Irrespective of the types of grouper you wish to target you can catch large ones with lures, live and dead bait. If you are casting in the shallows, use jerk bait and retrieve it erratically to lure the fish out in the open.
You will need heavy tackle, especially if there are a lot of rocks under the water where you are fishing and a braided line that can withstand the powerful pull of a caught grouper. If you are using spinning tackle, make sure that the reel is heavy enough to withstand an 80 to 100-pound test mainline and a low gear ratio to give you more control.
This tackle will come in handy when the panicking grouper fish tries to swim under a ledge to break the line. For live bait, use pinkish, grunts, blue runner, sardines, and mullet.