Do you want to know everything about grouper fishing? Fishing tips, where to find them, characteristics of the groupers and more information here, in WeFish. We also have a surprise for you, go to the end of this post to take a quiz and show how much you know about grouper fishing.
Amazing grouper fishing videos
Before starting with the information, we want to delight you with some of the most amazing grouper fishing videos on the internet:
The NFL star Sam Barrington go fishing for monster goliath groupers off the coast of Florida:
Catching giant groupers:
Grouper fishing in Dry Tortugas:
Characteristics of the grouper
There are a lot of species in the grouper family. They are salt water fishes, robust and hard, with a big head and mouth. The groupers are sedentary fishes with very big jaws that live in warm and tropical waters. They are big sized, the biggest ones can reach more than 39 inches (a meter) of length and more than 88 pounds (40 kilograms) of weight. They have a big mouth with prominent lips. Grouper are commonly brown with white spots, but it depends on their emotional and reproductor state. One curiosity of this species is that they are hermaphrodites, they can change their sex. They reproduce in summer and can live till 50 years old.
It feeds from other small fishes, crustaceous and especially octopus, to whom run after at night. Groupers crush them with their powerful jaws. The lower one jaw stands out from the upper one.
Groupers are also very territorial, and they have an action radio of 500 m² to hunt their prey.
Grouper fish size
The large size of groupers is perhaps its most significant characteristic, hence it is a species so desired by saltwater fishermen. If you want to be impressed with the size that this species can reach, we are going to tell you some of the greatest records in the world of grouper fishing, verified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
- 680-Pound Goliath Grouper: The heaviest grouper ever caught and certified as an IGFA world record was this 680-pound goliath grouper. The fish was caught on 1961 in Florida, using a Spanish mackerel as bait.
- 583-Pound Goliath Grouper: This record is somewhat more recent. In 2020, Reegan Werner, just 16 years old, managed to break the record for the largest grouper ever caught by a fisherwoman. It weighed close to 600 pounds and was caught in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida.
- 436-Pound Warsaw Grouper: This huge Warsaw grouper was caught in 1985 by Steve Haeusler in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida.
- 395-Pound Giant Grouper: In 2012 Shayne Keith Nelson caught a tremendous 295-pound giant grouper off an island in Tanzania. He used bonito as bait for his fishing.
- 264-Pound Convict Grouper (Mahata): In 2011, on an island in Japan, Koji Yoshida set the world record for the species of convict grouper. It weighed 264 pounds and a shad was used as bait to catch it.
Where to find them
Grouper habitat is near to seaweed and corals, in rocky bottoms with caves. We can find them in Mediterranean Sea, in Pacific Ocean and in Atlantic waters. They prefer to live in rocky areas, where there are many holes and caves. They are used to live always in the same zone but with different places where hide themself when they are in danger.
This fish is adapted to live in the deepness, they are between 65 and 650 feet (20 and 200 meters) under water. It’s a lonely fish that lives in holes. To catch them, it’s important to find a deep area near a vertical wall, because it’s where the grouper usually sets their home. They use this lairs to hide themself in case of danger.
Types of grouper fish
There are a lot of species in the grouper family, here you have some of the most known:
- Black grouper: Mycteroperca bonaci. It’s commonly found in the southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean.
- Goliath grouper: Epinephelus itajara. One of the largest predators on coral reefs. Reaching lengths of at least 8 feet (2.5 m) and weights up to 700 pounds (320 kg). This particular species of grouper is considered endangered today and protected in the United States and Caribbean
- Red grouper: Epinephelus morio. They are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil. Usually seen at Florida coasts.
- Scamp grouper: Mycteroperca phenax. It mainly inhabits the Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic waters.
- Misty grouper: Hyporthodus mystacinus. This grouper species can typically be found throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and the Western Atlantic edges.
- Nassau grouper: Epinephelus striatus. It used to be one of the most common species of grouper in the United States but now is an endangered species.
- Snowy grouper: Hyporthodus niveatus. This species is distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico.
For many years, grouper fishing has been the target of spearfishers because of its big size, but now, grouper is a protected species.
You could try to fish them in breakwaters near ports, due as they use this areas to hide themself. The right time to catch grouper is from September to March, the coldest months of the year. You will catch the best groupers using a boat, moving forward to arrive at the deepest zones. Also, it’s interesting to know that the male groupers are the biggest ones.
The most used modalities when grouper fishing are the fishing line with hooks, and netting. But spearfishing is the top modality to catch this fish. In areas with large number of groupers, as Mauritania, Senegal or Cabo Verde, you can also fish them by trolling.
How to catch groupers?
When you feel that the fish bite but it seems that your line has tangled with something, stop pulling for a moment. It is probably that the fish has returned to their lair and they won’t stop pulling till they feel secure. The best you can do is to take advantage of the moment when it drops to pull again and tire the grouper. If it is a big catch, we mustn’t grab them from their gill covers, because they are serrated and they have lot of strength.
If you want to catch grouper in the deepness, the best modality is bottom fishing, for example in 1200 feet (400 meters). You will find big catches helped by a sounding line. Tip: You can use fluorescent objects inside the bait to see it in the deep water. The fishing rig is better to put it with some weights. And you will need a reel with a thousand meters of line more or less too.
Grouper fishing from shore with rod is so difficult, the catches of this fish happen more by chance. The shortage of this species in our upper waters makes very hard to feel the bite of the groupers. And, in case of a chance bite in our line, the grouper return very fast to their holes or caves.
Remember that it is very difficult to catch them with line and hook, because even they bite, we can’t take them out from their caves. It’s better to use solid material, line not lower than 60 or 100 numbers, spinning reel (better an electric one), and a hard hook. We suggest to catch grouper with electric reels due to the deepness of their habitat, they never go up to the surface.
An other option is to use bottom line, a very hard line. And as bait, you can use an alive fish or a little octopus, skewered on a solid hook. If the grouper bite, there will be an amazing fight between the animal and the fisherman.
Fishing equipment for grouper fishing
Grouper fishing require a rod with a length between 4 meters and 4 meters and a half, also a rod able to resist a power between 330 and 600 lbs (150 and 300 g).
To fish a grouper you will need a good fishing weight and many reel, because they are normally in the deepness, and they offer resistance when we pull them off his holes. The reel has to be big, to carry a line with 0,6-0,8 mm of diameter (the accurate for groupers). And also you need a spool that measures almost 1000 feet (300 meters) at least.
You will need very resistant and big hooks, able to stand the strength of grouper jaws. The best bait for grouper fishing are squid, chub mackerel, sardine, white crab, or octopus pieces, one of the favorite grouper food. But normally they bite any bait.
How much do you know about grouper fishing?
The grouper it’s maybe the catch of a lifetime, even the smallest groupers will give you hard fights. So if you want to watch amazing catches of groupers, join the best fishing community: WeFish!