Gag Grouper: Mycteroperca microlepis
- Brownish gray in color with dark, worm-like side markings
- Fins dark, with anal and caudal having a white margin
- Lack of brassy spots as found on black grouper
- Slightly concave tail
- Noticable spur located on the preopercle
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.
80 lb 6 oz, caught near Destin
Fishing Tips and Facts:
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.
Red Grouper: Epinephelus morio
- Color brownish red
- Lining of mouth scarlet-orange
- Blotches on sides in unorganized pattern
- Second spine of dorsal fin longer than others
- Pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared off tail
- Margin of soft dorsal black with white at midfin
- Black dots around the eyes
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.
42 lb 4 oz, caught near St. Augustine Inlet
Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles