Grouper are relatively plentiful and can be found in most US coastal waters, but they are especially common around the waters of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Grouper are a great gamefish because they are delicious – their flesh is tender and sweet and is a treat for any seafood lover.
If you are interested in a trophy you can fry up and put in a sandwich, then grouper is your fish. However, catching them also poses a challenge, even the most experienced anglers.
To make your fishing experience easier, we’ve compiled the best places for you to fish for them while you’re staying in Florida.
Kinds of Grouper
There are many different kinds of grouper, but there are a few that you’re most likely to encounter in Florida.
Best Kinds Of Grouper for Cooking
All grouper is firm, flaky and flavorful. Since sizes and tastes vary from species to species, we’re serving up a few pointers:
Red Grouper, also known as “Reds,” are a delicious species of grouper. They can be found in the same places as Black and Gag Grouper and are the most commonly found grouper in restaurants and marketplaces. Red grouper is valued for its availability, flavor and size. With all grouper, be mindful of worms when eating, but this is especially true for red grouper. The worms won’t cause you any harm if cooked and eaten, but who wants to serve worms to friends and family? Just make sure to pick them out before cooking.
The Black Grouper is more limited in its availability, although commonly found in Florida. While the flavor isn’t as sweet as red grouper, many chefs prefer it because of its smaller head and greater yield. You can tell you’ve landed a Black Grouper if your fish has a protruding jaw and rectangular gray blotches. Black Grouper meat is sweet and flavorful and they are relatively easy to find amongst the old wrecks and reefs.
Another common species of grouper is the Gag Grouper. These are lighter in color but also have markings, this time shaped like kisses.
The Yellowedge Grouper is widely-accepted as the tastiest grouper. Its meat is succulent and sweet, but you’ll have to go off-shore if you want to catch one of these as they prefer flat bottoms to rocks and wrecks.
Protected Species Of Grouper
The most protected species of grouper is the Goliath Grouper. These fish grow to be massive and they will eat other groupers. They are very hard to catch because of their size – they can be as big as a refrigerator – but if you do snag one, you will have to let it go.
Stuff You Should Know If This Is Your First Time
A fishing license in Florida is $17 for three days and $30 for seven days. Black Grouper fishing season in the Atlantic is closed from January 1 to April 30.
To get good grouper, you are likely going to have to charter a boat for the day. Your charter company should provide the fishing licenses and other important documents. Check Florida regulations before you head out, or ask your charter company for more information.
Where Groupers Like To Hide
While most grouper can be found close to shore, they tend to be the smaller ones. However, grouper have to be at least 24 inches for you to keep and take home. If you are looking for bigger game, then you’re going to have to go off-shore and get into deeper waters.
Beware – groupers like to “dig”, which means that they will dive for cover once they take the bait. Make sure you are using the right equipment when fishing for grouper, as you don’t want your line to snap.
Good Spots To Hook A Grouper
While grouper are plentiful from Massachusetts to Brazil, there are certain spots where they like to congregate and a season when they are even more active and common in Florida. Here are some spots you should check out if you are serious about landing your first big grouper.
The Florida Keys are a group of islands that extend out from the end of Florida’s peninsula. They are a gorgeous natural fishing ground, and you can find tons of grouper swimming in the various reefs and wrecks that dot the waters near the islands. There is even a mythical deep water area called the Valley of The Giants where you can reliably find Black Grouper.
The Florida Keys is also home to Islamorada, which is the sportfishing capital of the world. Its unique location near both the bay of Florida and the Gulf Stream makes it the perfect place to go gamefishing.
This one might be a little surprising as Miami is better known for its parties than its fishing, but there are some really great spots offshore in Miami. It’s even a good place to find rare species of grouper like the Snowy Grouper or the Scamp Grouper.
The waters of Key Biscayne south of Miami Beach are also rich with grouper, so don’t miss out on Miami if you are looking to go fishing.
If you are fishing for grouper, this popular tourist destination should be on your list! Most grouper like places with a lot of structure, and the rocky reefs of Fort Lauderdale are an excellent spot for them to hide and hunt.
Pensacola has one of the largest man-made reefs in the world just offshore, so it’s the perfect place to find and catch grouper. The Oriskany Memorial Reef is also called “the Great Carrier Reef”, and it provides groupers with tons of cover to hide from their prey – this attracts plenty of groupers for you to catch.
Grouper fishing is a really rewarding experience – if you get lucky enough to snag one, you know you’ll be in for a delicious dinner. Grouper is also a great choice of quarry as they are a fun challenge and relatively plentiful. Good luck on your fishing adventure, and we hope you catch a big one!
Check out our grouper recipes. Our favorite is the Grouper & Waffles, our spin on chicken and waffles.