The Gulf of Mexico gag population declined for several years beginning in 2005, possibly due to a major “red tide” event (an algal bloom that releases potent neurotoxin). Managers implemented a number of measures to rebuild the stock, and it was declared rebuilt in 2014.
Smaller fish are much lighter and have dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along their sides. Gag grow slowly, can reach more than 3 feet in length, and weigh up to 50 pounds.
In the Gulf of Mexico, managed under the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan : Annual catch limit allocated between the commercial (39 percent) and recreational (61 percent) fisheries. Restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish, to reduce by catch and protect spawning groups.
Area closures for both commercial and recreational fisheries to protect spawning groupers. Like many fish species in the wrasse family, young gag grouper are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger.
The coloration of this species is extremely variable but generally brownish gray overall with a pattern of dark, worm-like or kiss-shaped markings along the sides. Gags can be distinguished from black grouper, Mycteroperca Monaco, that often occur in the same habitat by the distinctive color pattern and the shape of the properly (the middle bone of the gill cover).
Wrecks and oil rigs in shallow shelf waters of the Gulf also attract many gag grouper. Trolling lipped diving plugs in shallower areas of rocky bottom or reef is also a very effective method to catch these fish.
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All groupers are members of the sea bass family, Serranidae, which is made up of more than 400 species. Groupers are found around coral reefs and rock outcroppings in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide.
Groupers vary in size and weight but are commonly marketed at 5 to 20 pounds. Be wary of grouper prices that are suspiciously low; a low price likely means the fish is not grouper but is instead a less expensive substitute species, most likely Asian catfish.
Mislabeling seafood products is against the law, and consumers are cheated when they pay for an expensive fish but receive one of lesser value. If you suspect the grouper you purchased is not the real thing, you can report the problem by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (850) 617-7280.
Grouper is a lean, firm, white-fleshed fish with a meaty texture and large flake. Fresh whole fish should have a shiny surface with tightly adhering scales, gills that are deep red or pink, and a clean, shiny belly cavity with no cuts or protruding bones.
You can store fresh fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to two days. After handling raw seafood, thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges, and hands with soapy water.
Versatile grouper lends itself well to any form of cooking, including grilling, baking, poaching, steaming, broiling, sautéING, deep-frying, and pan frying. The fish is typically breaded and fried and served on a bun with lettuce, sliced tomato, and tartar sauce.
Gills that are deep red or pink and are free of slime, mucus and off-odor. Clean shiny belly cavity with no cuts or protruding bones.
After handling raw seafood, thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges and your hands with hot soapy water. When marinade is needed for basting, reserve a portion before adding raw seafood.
Because it is a lean fish, some basting is necessary while broiling or baking to keep the flesh moist. The general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness, at the thickest part of the fillet or steak, at 400-450 degrees F.
Fish is done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sautéing and microwaving are excellent low-fat cooking methods, if you do not add high-fat ingredients.
Fresh Black Grouper FilletsGroupers are members of the sea bass family, Serranidae, which has over 400 types. They are found in warm temperate tropical waters around the coral reefs and rock outcroppings of the coastal shelf.
Groupers are harvested year-round with peak Eastern seaboard and Gulf production in summer and fall. Characteristics: The extra lean white meat is firm and moist with large flake and a sweet, mild flavor. Additional shipping charges may be applied to your order and will be made against the payment method provided at the time of check out.
These large fish are typically caught in the two to 12-pound range, though they can be found up to 20-30 pounds. You can find them along the East Coast of the Americas from Brazil through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to as far north as New England.
Juvenile fish take shelter on the inshore glass flats and shoals until they mature. During most of the year, mature gag grouper like to hide around any type of structure that can give them shelter.
They can be found in ledges and holes and love to populate offshore reefs and shipwrecks. As winter approaches, a massive migration of gags head for the warmer protection of the inner shores, especially within the Gulf of Mexico, to spawn.
During the late fall and early winter, they’ll show up a few miles off the shoreline along with Spanish mackerel, king fish, speckled trout, blacktop and spinner sharks that are chasing the schools of bunker and herring close to the beaches. Many anglers catch lots of gags on spinning and plug tackle, but live bait tends to be the best option.
By law, you’re required to use a circle hook when bottom fishing in much of Florida’s cost, including the Gulf of Mexico. When hooked, these are very powerful fish that want nothing more than to run back into a hole or ledge and take you with them.
You’ll need to have heavy gear with you to prevent the fish from taking your line. Most anglers crank the drag on their reel down all the way to prevent the fish from reaching a hole.
This is where the grouper will run into a hole or under a ledge and spread its gills locking itself in place. Keep your rod held low so you can immediately lift it as soon as the fish strikes, turning it away from the rocks.
Start to cautiously reel in all slack to the point that your rod is low to the water and tight to the fish. I am currently on the field staff team for Penn Reels from Pure Fishing.
In the past I’ve had sponsorships from Died, Bull buster, Eagle Claw, and I’m currently helping promote Mons ta fishing apparel. I am also an avid tournament angler in many kayak divisions as well as offshore species.
The Grouper, Mycteroperca microbes Gray or light brown with wavy markings on the side that generally do not form boxes or circles.
Color deepens to dark brown shortly after removal from water. SIZE: Can reach 50 pounds on deep offshore wrecks and ledges, and has been recorded to 80 pounds, but 20-30 is the usual maximum range, and most catches now fall between 2 and 12 pounds.
Many juveniles are caught from inshore grass flats. World record 80 pounds, 6 ounces; Florida record 80 pounds, 6 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent; firm white flesh; little red. GAME QUALITIES: An aggressive striker and hard fighter at all depths.
Offshore bottom fishermen tend toward stout rods with 50- and 80-pound-test lines, but such grouper digging” rigs are strictly necessary only in very deep water. Up to about 50 feet, lines in the 20-30-pound range are adequate and allow much more sport.
Many anglers catch lots of Gags on spinning and plug tackle. This is also the best of the Groupers for fly fishermen, since they are frequently found in fairly shallow water and will eagerly take a large streamer fly. Hard- lure casters use Deadhead jigs, mostly, while rollers rely on large deep-diving plugs.
RANGE: Found throughout Florida and Bahamas. HABITAT: Both juveniles and adults frequent inshore holes and ledges, often on deeper grass flats.