Black Grouper

The largest fish of the Mycteroperca groupers, the black grouper is a species that flourishes in the Key West reef and wrecks. With its olive or gray coloration and various black and brassy blotches, the black grouper is sometimes mistaken for its marine cousins the gag grouper and the Warsaw grouper. From birth to adolescence black grouper, frequent shallow inshore water. The fish matures around 39 in. to 47.8 in. in length and seek deeper water to reproduce. The breeding period for this species spans from May to August. During this time the black grouper—a protogynous hermaphrodite—produces female offspring that later transition to male adults.

While juvenile black grouper feed on shrimp and other crustaceans, adult black groupers predominantly consume other fish and squid. Black groupers possess well-developed canine teeth, with small sub-sets of more slender teeth. These teeth, as well as its elongated lower jaw, keep smaller fish from escaping its mouth, such as grunts, snapper, and herrings. The black grouper does not possess median fin rays; the caudal fin is squared-off, and the preopercule is rounded without a notch or projecting lobe at any angle. These characteristics in particular are what separate it from the gag grouper.

When fishing offshore for the black grouper, stouts rods with 50 to 80-pound-test lines are efficient tools, with small fish and large cut baits to attract the fish. Drifting, Still fishing, or Trolling are also preferred methods by some fishermen. They live close to the surface between 6 and 33 meters, so it is important to note how offshore you are before you begin. It is also important to watch out for any structure in the water; black groupers habitually frequent any place they can hide in order to ambush their prey. Reefs and sea grass beds will likely produce both adolescent and adult black groupers.