Every summer, thousands of anglers hit the coast to fill their coolers with tasty fillets. 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. These mean-tempered monsters can top 4 feet long and weigh well over 100 pounds.
After Cuber, the next biggest species is world-famous RedS napper, 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 RedS napper.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: RedS napper, aka America’s favorite fish. Every summer, anglers flock to the Gulf of Mexico in their thousands to bag one.
RedS napper 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 RedS napper.
Scamp live much deeper than their rivals, and are usually caught 200 feet down or more. 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.
The red snapper is named for the way it suddenly and forcibly opens and shuts its jaws when dying. But they will settle for crabs, squid, worms, mollusks, and algae.
They usually remain near the coast during the summer and move offshore as fall arrives. Unfortunately, this creature is one of about 300 species that can cause a painful type of food poisoning, called ciguatera.
Scientists think ciguatera is caused when the red snapper eats a type of poisonous blue-green algae. Experts still don’t know when or where a rare outbreak of ciguatera will strike.
Grouper, any of the large family of fish also commonly known as sea bass. Although the approximately 400 species of groupers vary greatly, most have several features in common.
The pelvic fins, which have a spine and five soft rays, are well forward on the belly. Adult groupers vary from a few inches in length and several ounces in weight to gigantic proportions.
The largest species is probably the Queensland grouper (Promiscuous lanceolatus) of Australia; the biggest on record was 12 feet (3.5 meters) long and weighed 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Larger groupers tend to be drab; smaller ones are often brightly colored and patterned.
Below target level in the Gulf of Mexico and fishing rate promotes population growth. Fishing gear used to harvest red snapper has minimal impacts on habitat.
Regulations require modified fishing gear to reduce by catch. Release techniques improve the chance of survival of unintentionally caught fish.
Regulations are in place to ensure that the combined commercial and recreational catches are low enough to prevent overfishing. Spawning biomass has generally been increasing since the mid-1990s, but continues to be well below the target level (currently at 22 percent).
It will take time for older, more fertile fish to rebuild; however, the numbers of red snapper predicted by the assessment are the highest on record since the 1970s. They have a long triangular face with the upper part sloping more strongly than the lower.
Red snapper grow at a moderate rate, and may reach 40 inches long and 50 pounds. Red snapper feed on fish, shrimp, crab, worms, cephalopods (octopus or squid), and some plankton (tiny floating plants and animals).
Young red snapper are food for the large carnivorous fish that share their habitat, such as jacks, groupers, sharks, barracudas, and morays. A minimum size limit protects the spawning stock and juveniles.
For more information, visit NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office’s Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Management website. Ahead of the first strong cold front was a very small weather window for anglers to venture offshore.
I was one of them, joining Caleb and Kyle Grimes as well as friends Jon Yates and Les Hardin. We watched the weather intently, and the timing of the cold front looked to be early in the afternoon of Sunday.
Overnight winds looked like they would remain strong, so we met late in the morning with the goal of hitting some shallower red snapper numbers in 120 feet where perhaps mangrove snapper and gag grouper would also be. After a couple throws of the cast net we had plenty of big whitebait and thread fins to join our dead bait of sardines and squid as well as 10 dozen shrimp.
I deployed a light 1/8-ounce jig with shrimp and caught big mangrove snapper and red snapper on nearly every drop. Caleb worked heavier tackle hoping for a bigger fish but found himself also catching plenty of mangrove snapper even on the 80-pound gear.
On a flat lined thread fin Kyle caught a red grouper, something that surprised us considering the bait was not close to the bottom. That will be the main target for anglers heading into the cooler months and this year has been one of the best mangrove snapper crops I’ve ever seen.
While 2020s extra red snapper season may be over, there is still plenty of reason for anglers to head offshore. King fish are on the beaches and tuna, cobra, sailfish, triple tail and more are being caught in good numbers.
According to a study by Oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation group, one-third of the more than 1,200 seafood items purchased by researchers nationwide between 2010 and 2012 was mislabeled. Researchers found 87 percent of the snapper they purchased from stores and restaurants was improperly labeled.
The more people cheat, the more difficult it becomes for honest fishermen to make a living. 'The Godfather' One of the most egregious cheaters of all time was Carlos Rafael, who operated a commercial fishing fleet in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
“I control the f------ flounder market in New Bedford,” Rafael said in a conversation recorded by undercover federal investigators, obtained by “American Greed.” He did so by squeezing out smaller competitors, falsifying government reports and mislabeling his catch to make it look like he was complying with the regulations.
Rafael is serving a four-year prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to 28 criminal counts including falsifying federal records, falsely labeling fish and illegal smuggling of cash, in a scheme that threatened the livelihood and the reputations of honest people in the industry. “The vast majority of fishermen in this port, New Bedford, all up and down the East Coast, are honest, hardworking guys,” said Rodman Sykes, a third-generation commercial fisherman.
Maltese says wild salmon tends to be less brightly colored than the farm-raised variety, which are often raised on specially formulated food to make them more orange. Those lines are fat, which is a telltale sign the fish was not caught in the wild.
To make sure the fish you are buying is fresh, Maltese says to give it a good whiff. “It's not a natural thing to have a sheen on fresh fish,” Maltese said.