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 Groupers

 Jewfish(Goliath Grouper)
(Epinephelus itajara)


 Distribution & Size

Along all the the coasts of Florida and the Bahamas , from inshore estuaries out to the deepest waters offshore BLACKGROUPER.jpgGroupers are found.  They are the most widely available of the game fish and also offer a great number of differing varieties. There are twenty one different types in all.
The Gag, Red Groupers and the Jewfish (a species closed permanently to all harvesting due to over fishing which almost made the species extinct. The species have now started to make a comeback and have been renamed Goliath Grouper) are the most widely distributed.  Most of the other species, Nassau, Red Hind, Black, Yellowfin and Scamp live in and around the coral reefs of the extreme south of Florida.

 General Information

Groupers live close to the bottom and are always associated with some type of submerged structure i.e. reef or wreck. Groupers are born as females but can later become male. Gag and red grouper are the most widely distributed of the Florida groupers. Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters. Grouper spawn between January and May with some of the more tropical species spawning year-round. Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities. Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring grouper to the surface. Live fish or dead cut or whole bait are used. Grouper are very tasty meals.

 


Gag Grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) is common up to a weight of 25lbs.  Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities. Grouper are born as females but can later become male. Gag and red grouper are the most widely distributed of the Florida groupers. Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters. Grouper spawn between January and May with some of the more tropical species spawning year-round. Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring grouper to the surface. Live fish or dead cut or whole bait are used. Grouper are very tasty meals.
The Florida record being 86lbs 6ozs caught near Destin.  


Red Grouper (Epinephelus moriois) common in weight to about 15lbs.  Red grouper are a bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottoms. Juveniles are found offshore along with adults greater than 6 years old. Fish from 1 to 6 years occupy nearshore reefs. This fish spawns in April and May. Red grouper prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F. Like many other grouper, red grouper undergo a sex reversal; young individual females becoming males as they age. Red grouper have a lifespan of at least 25 years. They feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish.
The Florida record is 42lbs 4ozs caught near St. Augustine Inlet.  


 

 
 

 

Kevin Kelly displays a Goliath Grouper  killed unfortunately by RED TIDE in 2005.
We found this 400lb monster floating
on the surface at the entrance
to the Egmont Channel.

 

Jewfish now known as the Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) can attain weight up to 800lbs and is more common in the south of Florida than the north. Goliath Groopers are found nearshore often around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges. Young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars. These fish are more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters. Goliath Grouper spawn over summer months and have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. They feed on crustaceans and fish.

The Florida record is a whopping 680lbs
caught near Fernandina Beach in 1961. This fish may no longer be harvested as the "species is in danger".


Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) common weight 1 to 10lbs.This grouper's range is limited to south Florida. Nassau grouper are somewhat site specific. Smaller individuals are found nearshore while adults are often found offshore on rocky reefs. Nassau grouper form large spawning aggregations, making this species highly vulnerable to overharvest. All harvest of this species is prohibited.

Florida record 9lbs. caught near Marathon Key in 2007.  
World record 38lbs 8ozs.


Red Hind Grouper (Epinephelus guttatus) common weight 1-2lbs.  The species is found in tropical and subtropical waters as deep as 400 feet, from North Carolina to Brazil, including the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. It is most abundant off Bermuda and in the West Indies. Red hind are protogynous hermaphrodites. Spawning occurs from March to July, and females release an average of 90 thousand to 3 million pelagic eggs. The species may live up to 17 years or longer, and reach a length of 23 inches and a weight of 10 pounds. Red hind feed on small fishes, crabs, shrimps and squid. Red hind will hide in holes and crevices and capture their prey by ambush
World record 6lbs 1oz.


Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) common weight up to 40lbs. These fish are offshore species. Adults are associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep. Young black grouper may occur inshore in shallow water. Black grouper spawn between May and August and they are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that young predominantly female who transform into males as they grow larger. Larger individuals of this species are generally found in greater depths and they feed on fish and squid. Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring grouper to the surface. Live fish or dead cut or whole bait are used. Grouper are very tasty meals.
Florida State Record 113lb 6oz caught near the Dry Tortugas.
World record 114lbs


Yellowfin Grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa) common in weight up to 20lbs. 
Color highly variable greenish olive or bright red with longitudinal rows of darker black blotches over entire fish; outer one third of pectoral fins bright yellow; lower parts of larger fish with small bright red spots. Undergoes sex reversal from female to male in latter part of life; specific name translates to "venomous," alluding to the fact that this fish, perhaps more frequently than other groupers, is associated with ciguatera poisoning; feeds on fish and squid.
Florida record 34lbs 6oz caught near Key Largo.  
World record 40lbs 12ozs.


Scamp Grouper (Mycteroperca phenax) is found usually in weight up to 10lbs.  color highly variable greenish olive or bright red with longitudinal rows of darker black blotches over entire fish; outer one third of pectoral fins bright yellow; lower parts of larger fish with small bright red spots. Scamp are found around nearshore reefs off the northeastern coast, and on around offshore reefs in the Gulf. These fish spawn in the late spring. Scamp feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans. Young undergo a sex transformation from female to male as they becomes older.
Florida record is 28lbs 6ozs. near Mayport.  
World record 29lbs.


Yellowmouth Grouper (Mycteroperca interstitialis) has a color tan or brown with darker spots, or a network of spots, fused into lines; distinct yellow wash behind the jaws; yellow around the eyes; outer edges of fins yellowish. Found OFFSHORE over reefs and rocks; not as common as scamp in the Gulf; range limited to southern Florida. Undergoes sex reversal, young individuals female, older individuals becoming male; young fish are bi-colored, dark above white below; feeds on small fish and crustaceans.
This species is not currently eligible for a state record.


Warsaw Grouper (Epinephelus nigritus) is uniformly dark brown, with no distinct markings; dorsal fin with 10 spines; second spine very long (much longer than third); caudal fin squared-off; rear nostril larger than front nostril; young have yellow caudal fin with dark saddle on caudal peduncle; some whitish spots on body. Found in deep rocky ledges and sea mounts, in 90-300 m (300-1000 ft). Young are sometimes caught in inshore waters.


Florida State Record is 436lb 12oz caught near Destin.

On May 24th 2014, Cullen Greer reeled in a six-and-a-half-foot-long, 297-pound Warsaw grouper while fishing in Venice, Louisiana. He was 35 miles from the end of the Mississippi Delta when he caught the giant fish.

As you could imagine, it was no easy task. Greer used live bait for 30 minutes before hauling it in.

The most shocking part of this story may be that it won't go down as the largest fish ever caught in the state. If the catch does get verified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it would become the fifth-largest ever caught in the state. The record is currently 359.1 pounds. It could also go down in the state record books as the third-largest Warsaw caught by a hand crank, according to Greer.


 Tackle & Bait

Groupers are caught using traditional bottom tackle rigs.  Leaders need be substantial as these fish are usually on the large size and dive straight back into the whole in which they live. Quit often you loose the battle with snapped off gear. A JEWFISH was caught by a lady right near our boat dock during June 2000 in about 20' of water, it weighed in at a staggering 175lbs before being returned to the water.

 Eating Qualities

All the Groupers are considered to be excellent in eating quality, and grouper is on the menu in most Florida restaurants.  However commercially the Scamp Grouper is considered as the prize.

 State Limits and Regulations

As the State Regulations are in constant flux we advise anglers to refer to www.MyFWC.com/fishing for the latest information.


 
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