Grouper Virginia

Danielle Fletcher
• Tuesday, 24 November, 2020
• 16 min read

VIRGINIA MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION“PERTAINING TO Tigerish AND GROUPERS” CHAPTER 4VAC20-1120-10 ET SEQ PREAMBLE This chapter establishes recreational and commercial limitations on the harvest and landings of Tile fish and Groupers in Virginia.

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(Source: mrc.virginia.gov)


This chapter is promulgated pursuant to authority contained in §28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia. The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the conservation of tile fish and grouper and to reduce the potential for overfishing by establishing limits on the harvest and landing of these fish.

It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to possess or land more than eight golden tile fish in Virginia tidal waters. The recreational harvest, landing and possession limit for blue line tile fish for any person fishing from a for-hire vessel that has been issued a valid Tile fish Charter/Party Permit, but does not have a current U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection shall be five blue line tile fish per person per trip.

The recreational harvest, landing and possession limit for blue line tile fish for any person fishing from for-hire vessels that have both a valid Tile fish Charter/Party Permit and a current U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection shall be seven blue line tile fish per person per trip. C. The recreational harvest, landing and possession limit for grouper, as described in 4 VAC 20-1120-20, shall be one fish.

It shall be unlawful for any person to recreationally harvest, land or possess more than one grouper within or without Virginia tidal waters. D. When fishing recreationally from any boat or vessel, where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the boat or vessel possession limit for any species described in subsections A or B of this section shall be equal to the sum of the personal possession limits, as described in subsections A or B of this section, of those persons on board legally eligible to fish.

Possess aboard any vessel in Virginia waters any amount of tile fish species in excess of 500 pounds whole weight or 455 pounds gutted weight, except as described in 4 VAC 20-1120-40 A.2. Possess aboard any vessel in Virginia waters any amount of blue line tile fish in excess of 300 pounds whole weight or 273 pounds gutted weight.

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(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

Possess aboard any vessel any amount of golden tile fish during any in-season closure announced by the National Marine Fisheries Service. It shall be unlawful for any vessel to land in Virginia more than 175 pounds of grouper, as described in 4 VAC 20-1120-20, per day when commercial fishing.

As set forth in §28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter committed by the same person within 12 months of a prior violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This is to certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate copy of the chapter passed by the Marine Resources Commission, pursuant to authority vested in the Commission by § 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia, duly advertised according to statute, and recorded in the Commission's minute book, at meeting held in Hampton, Virginia, on March 26, 2019.

The few captains, like David Wright and Joe Decamp, who knew about this fishery kept it very quiet. Each of them has caught grouper and other offshore bottom fish like tile fish and black belly rose fish weighing more than the current world records but nobody knew about it.

It wasn’t that they wanted the fish to themselves, they just cared more about the fishery than they did about records. The pattern has been for a new wreck or good bottom area to be found, a lot of big groupers are caught, and then the fishery is depressed.

From North Carolina on south, grouper are tightly regulated to try to protect the remaining stock. Listening to the concerns of these captains and to a strong appeal by commercial fisherman, Harry Done among others, the Virginia Marine Resource Commission has enacted a one grouper per person recreational bag limit and a 175 pound per vessel commercial limit.

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(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

To find Virginia ’s grouper, look for broken, rocky bottom along edge of the continental shelf in fifty to one hundred fathoms of water. They are structure oriented fish and you will often find them stacked up along a ledge or drop off.

The walls of the Norfolk Canyon are custom-made for grouper and any wreck lying out past the fifty-fathom curve is a good place to try. Its thin diameter allows us to put a lot of line on relatively small reels.

The latest record snowy grouper, a 49 pound 9 ounce fish captured by Roger Burley, was caught using a Penn 320. We also have had good luck with the Shaman Thorium reels.

Reels with larger handles and a higher rate of retrieval can make things easier on you. Using 50-60 pound braided line and medium tackle, we have had good luck bringing 50-pound fish up from the depths.

Off of one arm of the swivel is about 5 feet of 100-150 pound leader material which is tied to a 9/0 size hook. Off of the last arm of the swivel is 1-2 foot drop to your sinker.

virginia grouper
(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

While fishing for grouper, you will also encounter sea bass, blue line tile fish, Blackwell rose fish, golden tile fish and who knows what other surprises you may bring up from the deep. More than once, we have taken our catch to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to find out what it was that we had caught.

With 70 mile runs to the fishing grounds and strict recreational and commercial limits, Virginia ’s grouper fishery will mostly be a by-catch fishery, something to try on occasion while you are out there after something else. This should be good for the long-term health of the stock and it also means that if you do give it a try, you will have a chance at the next world record.

The hard spines on the dorsal fin of a Warsaw will be 10 in number. By Ken Neill How to fish for Tile fish, Grouper and Sea Bass off Virginia Beach.

The lack of fleshy protuberance behind the head distinguishes it from the commercially important tile fish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps. The blue line tile fish is a bottom dweller found in water ranging from 240-780 feet deep, from Virginia to the Campeche Banks of Mexico.

It is frequently found in the same habitat as groupers and snappers, preferring irregular bottom with sand, mud and she'll hash. Blue line tile fish feed on bottom creatures, such as crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea urchins and small fish.

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(Source: pilotonline.com)

Smaller fish are dark brown overall, punctuated with coin-size pearly white spots on the sides. A distinctive black, saddle-shaped blotch occurs on the caudal peduncle and extends down below the lateral line.

Larger snowy groupers usually lose the white spots and caudal saddle and become dark brown with a slight coppery tint. Snowy groupers can be found in the outer continental shelf of the South Atlantic Bight, which is characterized by ridges, terraces and precipitous cliffs.

The species is distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and the northern coast of Cuba. Snowy grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, spawning from May to June more than 2 million eggs.

Offshore bottom fishing out of Virginia has greatly increased in popularity in recent years. Sea bass fishing has always been popular and the current world record sea bass, 10 pounds 4 ounces, was caught off of Virginia by Allan Paschal in 2000.

In addition to sea bass, anglers began to learn how to fish for grouper, tile fish and wreck fish. Six blue line tile fish and two snowy grouper IFA All-Tackle World Records have been set off the coast of Virginia over the past year.

virginia tilefish fishing blueline record snow caught
(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

Due to the growing popularity of this fishery, Virginia has added snowy grouper, blue line tile fish and golden tile fish as eligible species for state records. We also added blue line tile fish to the trophy fish citation program.

The offshore waters off of Virginia are a good place to catch bottom fish. They all provide a great service, you will catch fish and you will learn something to boot.

Look for wrecks laying in twenty to fifty fathoms of water. Off of Virginia, the 50 fathom curve seems to be the magic area for blue line tile fish.

Watch your bottom machine while traveling in water 45 to 55 fathoms deep. We have caught tile fish all along the 50 fathom curve from east of the Cigar on up past the Norfolk Canyon.

We have been catching the grouper in the same areas that we have found the tile fish, maybe just a little deeper. Big and heavy offshore trolling tackle is not needed.

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(Source: vtichthyology.blogspot.com)

If you are going to buy a new reel for this type of fishing, pick one that is not too heavy, has a large handle, and has a higher gear ratio. Of course, if you would like to catch these bottom fish with less effort and you don’t care about records or citations, this is what electric reels are made for.

When we are targeting grouper, we will beef things up a bit with 100 lb leader. 80-100 pound leader with a loop at each end to attach a sinker and your main line.

Jeff Died, a 2-time world record holder, likes to add glow beads to this rig to spice things up. Boston mackerel stays on the hook well and makes a good cut bait.

That is what Bob Minus was doing out there with a spinning rod, he was catching tile fish with a diamond jig. The artificial “natural” baits like Gulp will also work but that brings us back to Bob again.

He thought that a piece of natural sponge soaked in menhaden oil might make a good bait and stay on the hook well. He put one on each hook, dipped them into the oil and started catching monster sea bass two at a time.

grouper virginia central water
(Source: vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com)

On later trips, he tried the sponge without the oil and still caught fish just as fast as the rest of us using natural bait. Sea bass, blue line tile fish and wreck fish all love the sponge.

These fish are considered over-fished in areas to our south while we seem to have very healthy populations here. We are not really supposed to have these fish off of Virginia, except for sea bass, we are totally unregulated at the time this is written.

Right now the regional councils are looking at extending the southern regulations north to try and protect this fishery. Wreck fish are mostly a recreational catch here while in the southern region they are regulated as a commercial only species.

Virginia is looking at enacting its own regulations to sustain this fantastic fishery which we have off of our coast. I expect Virginia may have some regulations for tile fish, grouper, and wreck fish in place before the end of the year.

Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations I introduced this place to my cousins, and they live in VA beach and never heard of it.

virginia snow snowy grouper
(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

The clams and oysters are so fresh and during happy hour at the bar, are only 60 cents/each. This place is a must-visit any time I'm ever in VA beach.

Enjoyed the Tuesday night special of fried flounder, side, and salad for $10.99. The entrée was cooked to perfection and the portion size was quite generous.

Finding a good seafood restaurant at the beach can be tricky. After traveling all day, by chance, we stumbled across Lucky's on the back road last year.

The fried fish and shrimp are not cooked in a tempura batter. Instead, both are perfectly coated in a light batter...which I prefer.

We'll go back again because I know their food is consistently good....even for a chain! After checking tons of reviews we decided on this restaurant.

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(Source: rollingharbour.com)

The waitstaff was very attentive to us and drinks and food was delivered perfectly. It is located in a shopping mall complex but in its own building.

I loved the inside of the place, so much to look at while eating. Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

The record-setting grouper bested the existing state record, set by Jar Humphrey of Norfolk, Virginia, on August 17, 2008, by nearly 2-1/2 pounds. Burley caught his grouper “deep-dropping” near the Norfolk Canyon in 98 fathoms of water while fishing aboard the private boat Healthy Grin, skippered by Ken Neill, III, of Seafood.

The record-setting grouper hit a custom-made two hook bottom rigs baited with squid and cut fish. Snowy grouper was added to the list of species eligible for state record recognition by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee at their fall meeting in 2006 and carried an initial qualifying weight of 38 pounds.

Burley's record was eclipsed within days, on June 10, 2007, by Bob Minus of Ark, Virginia, with a 65-pound, 8-ounce grouper. The four prior record snowy grouper were caught in the general vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon “deep-dropping” in over 50 fathoms of water and using either whole or cut fish for bait.

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(Source: rollingharbour.com)

Additionally, five of the six state record grouper were caught aboard the Healthy Grin skippered by Ken Neill. For more information, contact Lewis S. Dillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News, VA 23607, (757) 491-5160, vswft@mrc.

Email Web-Info For emergencies, boating accidents and to report violations call the Marine Police Dispatch Center toll free at (800) 541-4646 Site IndexPrivacy Policy Its range includes the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys in the United States, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and most of the Brazilian coast.

Scientists from our Southeast Fisheries Science Center are working to understand the changes that have occurred in coral reef ecosystems following the loss of top predators, such as groupers. From 1997-2005, our researchers collaborated with Florida State University's Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology (Dr. Chris Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman) to monitor the status and recovery of Goliath grouper.

This Goliath grouper research program investigated juvenile and adult Jewish abundance, distribution and migration patterns; their age and growth; and their habitat utilization. With the help of Don Maria we have tagged over 1,000 adult Jewish and have observed aggregations of Goliath grouper in both the Gulf of Mexico and more recently, the South Atlantic.

Posters created by the Center of Marine Conservation help disseminate information about our project and its requirements, highlighting our tagging study and the morphology of Goliath grouper. Given that these groupers were afforded protected status, researchers worked to utilize and develop novel non-lethal techniques to procure and analyze biological samples for life history information.

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(Source: rebelsportfishing.com)

Researchers have also determined that soft dorsal rays hold promise for aging older fish (Marie et al., 2008). These casualties, resulting from red tide, gave our biologists a unique opportunity to collect a multitude of biological samples, without having to sacrifice healthy animals.

From these decomposing carcasses, biologists were able to record length for use in an age/length relationship, and were able to extract monoliths and remove dorsal spines and rays for comparison of hard parts in age and growth analysis. Tissue samples were also removed and sent to the Florida Marine Research Institute, so they could evaluate the level of red tide toxin.

The sampling trip gave these biologists an opportunity to educate the curious beach goers about red tide and Goliath grouper (a few of which had been misidentified as baby manatees). Attempts to evaluate the data needed to assess the status of these depleted stocks and develop rebuilding plans present unique challenges.

In 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries convened a benchmark Goliath grouper assessment for the continental U.S. population. This project would not have been possible without ongoing collaboration with researchers from Florida State University, Everglades National Park, and the recreational fishing and SCUBA diving communities.

The Atlantic Goliath grouper or Tamara (Epimetheus Tamara), also known as the Jewish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft). Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast.

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(Source: healthygrinsportfishing.com)

On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

Young Atlantic Goliath groupers may live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers. They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb).

The world record for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernanda Beach, Florida, in 1961. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic Goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.

It is a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen because of the grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning annually to the same locations.

Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, its population was in rapid decline. The fish is recognized as “vulnerable” globally and “endangered” in the Gulf of Mexico.

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(Source: www.thebassbarn.com)

The species' population has been recovering since the ban; with the fish's slow growth rate, however, some time will be needed for populations to return to their previous levels. Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespans change sex to male.

Males can be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years. In May 2015, the Atlantic Goliath grouper was successfully bred in captivity for the first time.

Tidal pools act as nurseries for juvenile E. Tamara. In tidal pools juvenile E.Tamara are able to utilize rocky crevices for shelter.

Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab. The Atlantic Goliath grouper has historically been referred to as the “Jewish”.

It may have referred to the fish's status as inferior leading it to be declared only suitable for Jews, or the flesh having a “clean” taste comparable to kosher food ; it has also been suggested that this name is simply a corruption of jaw fish or the Italian word for “bottom fish”, Giuseppe. In 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using the term because of complaints that it was culturally insensitive.

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(Source: vtichthyology.blogspot.com)

^ Lovato, Cleo nice Maria Cardozo; Soars, Bruno Clears; Begot, Tiago Octavio Buffalo; Montage, Luciano Coach de Assis (January 2016). “Tidal pools as habitat for juveniles of the Goliath grouper Epimetheus Tamara (Lichtenstein 1822) in the Amazonian coastal zone, Brazil”.

Risky, Delaney C.; Bakenhaster, Micah D.; Adams, Douglas H. (2015). “ Pseudorhabdosynochus species (Monogenoidea, Diplectanidae) parasitizing groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine, Epinephrine) in the western Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, with descriptions of 13 new species”.

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