Groupers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a 4 feet and weights up to 200 pounds are not uncommon, though obviously in such a large group species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopus, crab, and lobster. They lie in wait, rather than chasing in open water. According to the filmmaker Graham Ferreira, there is at least one record, from Mozambique, of a human being killed by one of these fish.
Grouper Fishing Locations
Some species of grouper range from New England to southern Brazil and Texas, and they are common around almost any kind of bottom structure. In southern Florida they inhabit all of the tropical coral reefs. North of Florida, they can be found in and around bottom ledges, live bottom, and artificial reefs and wrecks. They prefer to be able to seek shelter and hide, and although their name implies that they stay together, they can also be very solitary fish. The larger ones become quite solitary.
Grouper Fishing Techniques & tackle
Anglers find that medium-heavy bottom fishing tackle is the best way to approach the grouper. Conventional reels in the thirty- to fifty-pound class teamed with a medium-heavy boat rod will do the trick. The terminal tackle consists of a sinker, leader, and hook arranged one of two ways. The first way is called a “fish-finder rig” by most anglers. It is tied with a pyramid or bank sinker on the very end of the leader. Up about eighteen inches from the sinker is a loop tied in the leader. The loop is about twelve inches long and it is to this loop that the hook is tied. A variation of this rig has a longer leader with two loops and hooks. The battle is one of brute strength between angler and fish. More often than not the fish wins!
The fish finder rig is the favorite bottom rig of almost all the bottom fishing charter boats. It is excellent for fishing straight down under the boat. Even when the rig is dropped right into the bottom structure, it seldom hangs up. The normal bait used on a fish finder is cut bait, either squid or small fish, and occasionally a small live bait. This rig will catch a variety of species, including grouper.
More serious grouper anglers will opt for the second bottom rig, called a live bait rig. This one has a sliding egg sinker on the line above the leader. The leader is long, sometimes five or six feet long. The hook of choice on this rig is a circle hook, normally about 8/0 or 9/0 in size (an 8/0 circle hook is about the same size as a 5/0 standard hook). The long leader allows a live bait to swim more freely and naturally than a short leader, while the sliding egg sinker allows a fish to take the bait and swim off without feeling the weight of the sinker. Both of these bottom rigs use monofilament leaders. The choice of leader material for most grouper anglers is fluorocarbon. Advertised as virtually invisible to fish, it does seem to draw more strikes than regular monofilament.
Grouper Flavor And Cooking
Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold alive in fish markets. The large, white-flaked flesh contains no intramuscular bones. The skin is tough and strongly flavored and should be removed during cleaning. Grouper has also become the choice of people concerned with healthy eating because it is nutritious in addition to being delicious. Because the grouper meat is so low in fat, some basting may be necessary when grilling, broiling or baking. Grouper can be purchased fresh or frozen. Seasoned seafood chefs agree that grouper is one of the best seafood culinary choices. It can be used in almost any seafood recipe and its unique flavor comes out beautifully with a touch of mild seasoning and fresh herbs.
Grouper Fishing Overview
The classic bottom fish for a lot of anglers is the grouper. Whether red, gag, black, yellowfin, or Warsaw, a good grouper in the ice chest means a successful day for most folks. Grouper are normally very cooperative. If they are on a wreck when you stop to fish, they will usually bite quickly. If you fish a wreck for thirty minutes or more catching only small fish with no big bites, you probably are fishing a wreck without a grouper population. It’s time to move. Not everyone is equipped to fish for grouper on his or her own. In those cases, a grouper fishing guide or grouper fishing charter that provides the bait and tackle is an ideal way to bring some home to eat. Not many fish are as good as grouper to catch or to eat!