Key West Gag Grouper

The Basics

If you are planning to do some Key West fishing, Gag Grouper should be placed on your list. Gag grouper are a common inhabitant of the Key West reef system, weighing in from 10 to 20 pounds. The fish is not as distinctively-colored as other members of the Grouper family: They are a plain mottled grey, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings. The current record for a Gag Grouper caught on a hook-and-line is 80 pounds. Local seafood restaurants welcome them to their menu, as they are considered a high-quality fish in Key West.

Feeding Habits & Habitat

Gag Groupers are bottom feeders, so dropping live bait will snag them quicker than you can imagine. This fish puts up quite a fight, and they are fast to the bait, so don’t be surprised if you hook one quickly. They have a reputation for not giving up very easily, so be prepared for a long battle to land one.

All Gag Groupers are born as females, some later changing to males. They prefer waters in the 60-foot depth range, although juveniles patrol much shallower water around mangrove swamps and sea grass forests. Mature Gag Grouper will be located on the bottom, on the edge of coral reefs and around wreck sites.

Fishing for Gag Grouper

The habitat for Gag Grouper includes coral ledges, coral reefs, rocks and crevices. This includes artificial reefs like sunken structures and wreck sites.

If you are booking a Key West Fishing Charter for Gag Grouper, using live bait is your best option. They will go after jigs as well, and slow-trolled lures are also quite successful.

If you are coming down to Key West, fishing for Gag Grouper is definitely worth the effort. With their great fighting spirit, landing Gag Grouper is sure to provide an experience that is challenging as well as rewarding.