Florida Grouper Fishing

by Jennifer Gibbons
Grouper can often be found in deep water near reefs.

Grouper can often be found in deep water near reefs.

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Florida is known for its year-round sunshine and mild climate. The subtropical terrain features over 660 miles of beaches and thousands of miles of shoreline, with many inland lakes and rivers. Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities, whether it's from the shore or in a boat out in the deep. Grouper is one of the area's prize catches. If you plan a fishing trip to Florida, get to know a little more about this sought-after fish.


Several species of grouper are common to Florida. Black grouper is found offshore and can can grow up to 100 pounds, although the average size is 40 pounds. They feed on smaller fish and squid. The thin bloodline and mild flavor make it a culinary favorite, particularly in the South. Gag grouper are brownish-gray, with dark marking and fins. They are found near reefs and weigh an average of 25 pounds. Gag is the most-sold fish in Florida, because of the many ways it can be cooked. Scamp grouper have yellow markings, with light brown or gray skin. They live in offshore reefs in the Gulf, and are smaller than black or gag grouper. Other varieties include red, Warsaw and speckled hind.


You need a Florida fishing license to fish the local waters. A saltwater license cost $17 as of date of publication. Nonresidents are required to purchase a temporary license. You can apply online at fl.wildlifelicense.com or visit your local outfitter to obtain a license. If you're 65 or older or under 16, you do not need a license.


There are also size and quantity restrictions to consider when fishing for grouper. You can take five black and gag grouper home with you if they're at least 22 inches. Scamp need to be 20 inches, and you can take five per day. Keep up with Florida's saltwater fishing regulations at cyberangler.com.

How and Where to Catch Grouper

The Florida Keys offer some of the best grouper fishing in the state, but it's a popular catch all around Florida's coasts. Grouper of all kinds are bottom feeders and prefer the same type of bait. The rule of thumb: The bigger the bait, the bigger the catch. Pinfish and squid are good bait choices. Throw your 60- to 80-pound test line out with a heavy sinker near a rock pile. Grouper are aggressive, so you'll know when you have a bite.

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