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Gag Grouper

Mycteroperca microlepis

Appearance

Illustration of a gag grouper
  • Color brownish-gray with dark worm-like markings on sides
  • Bottom of preopercle (cheek) has strong serrated spur
  • Fins are dark, with white edges on anal fin and tail
  • Dark lines radiate from the eyes

Similar Species: Black grouper, M. bonaci (spur on preopercle is gently rounded, not serrated) 

Size: Up to 36 inches (50 pounds); common to 25 pounds

Habitat

Coastal waters near structure such as rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep. Juveniles found in estuaries and seagrass beds

Behavior

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. Spawn between January and May with some of the more tropical species spawning year-round.

Feed on fishes and invertebrates.

Additional Information

State Record: 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.

Recreational Regulations