Grouper Fishing

A worldly variety of grouper species worth catching.

January 11, 2013
01-coral trout, australia.jpg
I’ve always had a thing for grouper. I’m not sure I can put my finger on why, but their variety, availability around the world and vicious strikes are certainly factors. In conjunction with the February Sport Fishing feature, “Game Plan for Grouper,” here are 40 photos, most of which I’ve taken or someone has taken of me with my camera over the years, with grouper from waters nears and far. Coral trout! Love ’em — sleek aggressive grouper of shallow reefs and bommies that come tearing up to savage poppers and shallow-running twitchbaits like this Sebile Stick Shadd. Location: Coral Sea northeast of Australia. unknown
02-misty grouper, bahamas.jpg
Misty grouper are a deepwater species often mistakenly called “mystic” grouper. Surprisingly, there is no all-tackle record for the species listed by the IGFA. This one was caught in about 600 feet off Chub Cay in the Bahamas. unknown
03 - olander - goliath, key west, gopr1788.jpg
Goliath grouper, the 800-pound gorilla of Caribbean reefs. With protection, they’ve come roaring back to be abundant around south Florida. This specimen was released off Key West.
04 -flowery cod (brownmarbled grouper), neoz.jpg
One of the more common grouper of shallow reefs in the Indo-Pacific, flowery cod (as Aussies call the brown-marbled grouper). I found that a hard-twitched, extra-fast-sinking Magic Swimmer appealed to most reef predators in the Coral Sea. unknown
05 - olander - red grouper, key west, img_2959.jpg
One of the most common groupers around Florida, the red grouper is another species that has benefited from strict regs. Quantum’s Bob Bagby caught this off Key West armed with the gear you see! unknown
06 - olander - leather grouper, baja, img_9165.jpg
One of my favorite groupers is the leather bass, which I’ve caught from Baja (this one came from the Revillagigedos Islands far to the south of the peninsula) to Panama. Among the prettiest of eastern Pacific groupers, I’ll say without hesitation that no grouper eats better. (And in the eastern Pacific, there’s no ciguatera to worry about!) IGFA world record: 27½ pounds from the Revillagigedos Islands. unknown
07 - olander - black grouper, key west, img_0060.jpg
Arguably the toughest grouper in the Southeast and Gulf, blacks grow to well over 100 pounds (IGFA record: 124 pounds, caught off Texas). This one came from Gulf of Mexico reefs off Key West, where it struck a white lead-head jig and white plastic tail. It was released. unknown
08 - coral trout (red variation), new caledonia.jpg
There are several species of coral trout in the Indo-Pacific and even more color variations, many of them striking. The IGFA lists them all as “coralgrouper” species; the largest all-tackle record tops 50 pounds caught off Japan.
09 - olander - big warsaw from gulf rig, img_0013.jpg
Man-size Warsaw grouper is a load to heft for angler Mustad’s “Dr. Fish.” He caught the bruiser on a live blue runner alongside a deep oil platform off Louisiana. Warsaw grow large: The all-tackle record stands at 436 pounds and change, from somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. unknown
10 - olander - scamp, key west, dsc_0133.jpg
Lovely scamp grouper from northern Gulf of Mexico. The species is hard to mistake, with that characteristic tail. They’re quite fond of metal jigs. The all-tackle record scamp weighed in just ounces shy of 30 pounds, caught off Alabama.
11 - peacock hind (fishbase) or blue-spotted grouper, new caledonia.jpg
One of the prettiest grouper of all, the peacock hind is variously known by other names, including, logically, the blue-spotted grouper. They don’t get large — the IGFA record is 3½ pounds from Hawaii — but live in very shallow reefs where they prove very aggressive, slamming shallow-running lures (such as this Storm Swim Shad). unknown
12 - olander - broomtail on a jig.jpg
Beautiful broomtail — an eastern Pacific species found off Central and northern South America. European jigging specialist Nicola Zingarelli is about to release this one off Panama. Broomtail get much bigger — the all-tackle record is 100 pounds, even, from Ecuador. unknown
13 - malabar grouper, new caledonia.jpg
Reefs around New Caledonia are the backdrop for this happy angler, who just caught a nice Malabar grouper on a huge spoon. Years earlier, the same waters (New Caledonia) gave up the 83-pound world record (to Patrick Sebile). unknown
14 - olander - 'leaping' gag, louisiana, .jpg
Although grouper don’t jump, some — like this gag taken off Louisiana — may make a lunge for freedom near the boat. Gags are a popular species among anglers in the Southeast and Gulf. The IGFA record was caught off Destin, Florida; it weighed 86 pounds, 6 ounces.
15 - olander - leather grouper, img_9462.jpg
Leather bass off Baja — the species’ fins and tail are usually edged with bright yellow, but this one is mostly about 50 shades of gray. unknown
16 - olander - yellowedge, louisiana, img_2233.jpg
Another species with fins edged in yellow is appropriately named the yellowedge (world record about 46 pounds from Virginia). Hunter Cole with Penn (left) jigged up this bad boy from deep water off Venice with Capt. Rimmer Covington (right). unknown
17 - olander - rankin cod, w aus, img_0884.jpg
Most grouper in Australian waters are either “trout” or “cod.” This is a Rankin cod, taken off western Australia by David or Doug Nilsen (hey, they’re identical twins: you tell me!) of Accurate. Its more formal common name is white-blotched grouper; under that name you’ll find the IGFA record is 19 pounds, taken off Diego Garcia. unknown
18 - squaretail or passionfruit coral trout (p. areolatus).jpg
Squaretail coralgrouper (aka passionfruit coral trout) from Australia. This fish could have been the all-tackle record since, to date, there is no record for the species. unknown
19 - olander - spotted cabrilla, panama, img_1179.jpg
A spotted grouper — aka cabrilla in much of its range — this size could lead most anglers to do some hootin’ and hollerin.’ SF’s editor, Chris Woodward, speed-jigging with light braided line out of Tropic Star, Panama. The world record is held by a 49-pound, 3-ounce fish from Cedros Island off Baja’s Pacific coast.
20 - olander - speckled hind, img_9748.jpg
Sometimes called a Kitty Mitchell grouper (and no, I don’t know who Kitty Mitchell is — even Google couldn’t tell me!), this is in fact a speckled hind. The oil rig where I caught it lies off the Louisiana coast. They do get larger: The IGFA world record, out of Destin, Florida, is 52½ pounds. unknown
21 - flowery cod, ne oz (2).jpg
Heavy brown-marbled grouper (flowery cod) rose from a Great Barrier Reef bommie (coral head) to nail Patrick Sebile’s trolled Magic Swimmer. unknown
22 - olander - scamp w teeth, louisiana,.jpg
Open wide! Scamp shows off its dentures boat-side.
23 - olander - scamp & snowy, louisiana, img_2221.jpg
Double trouble: Metal jigs enticed a nice scamp (left) and a small snowy grouper (right). Snowies are caught from the western Gulf of Mexico to the mid-Atlantic. In fact, the world-record snowy came from Norfolk Canyon off Virginia; it weighed 70 pounds, 7 ounces, and was caught by SF contributor Ric Burnley. unknown
24 - goldspotted sand bass, baja.jpg
On a sizzling-hot midsummer day near Bahia de Los Angeles in the Sea of Cortez, I caught a number of gold-spotted sand bass in about 250 feet of water — until a sea lion begin feasting on each and every fish hooked.
25 - olander- tba per ben diggles, w aus, img_0928.jpg
Simpy labeled coral hind or coral cod Down Under, this small grouper proves a colorful prize for Ben Patrick, head of Australia’s venerable Halco lures). Patrick caught it off western Australia on one of Halco’s Twisty jigs.
26 - olander - red grouper, key west, img_3508.jpg
The pugnacious visage of a red grouper caught off the Florida Keys on a Z-man soft tail and slow-jig head. unknown
27 - yellowedge grouper, n gulf.jpg
This yellowedge, caught off Alabama, made the morning for Trent Rogers, with Daiwa USA. unknown
28 - olander - broomtail grouper, panama, img_1361.jpg
Armed with jig and dangerous, SF editor Chris Woodward is happy with her broomtail grouper caught off southernmost Panama. unknown
29 - high fin grouper (e. maculatus).jpg
Honeycombed patterns mark this fish as a highfin grouper, one of so many interesting small grouper in the world, caught in tropical Pacific waters.
30 - black-spotted estuary cod (e. malabaricus) - malabar grouper, ne oz.jpg
Inshore-size Malabar grouper taken on a very windy day near Lizard Island off northeastern Australia, where the species is generally known as an estuary cod. A trolled Sebile Flat Shadd proved its downfall. unknown
31 - olander - leather grouper, img_9238.jpg
A leather bass comes aboard for Seward, Alaska, skipper Andy Mezirow, near Socorro Island south of Cabo San Lucas.
32 - olander - big black grouper, angler and mate (h), 8-30-05.jpg
On a dead-still, blazing-hot July afternoon, a live grunt accounted for this black grouper off Islamorada. unknown
33 - cool angle of tk grouper, new caledonia.jpg
Portrait of a grouper — another Malabar caught over New Caledonia reefs. unknown
34 - olander - warsaw, n gulf.jpg
As the high second dorsal spine reveals, this is a Warsaw grouper, caught at the bottom of a deep rig off Alabama for Scott Rogers with Daiwa and Ray Douglas of King Sailfish Mounts.
35 - red grouper, chub cay, bahamas.jpg
Grouper on grouper: Nice red went after a much small grouper (its tail clearly visible) off Chub Cay, the Bahamas. unknown
36 - olander - scamp, louisiana, img_2227.jpg
Another scamp grouper for Hunter Cole, with Penn, in the Gulf off Louisiana, caught over unmarked deep structure. unknown
37 - coral trout closeup, new caledonia.jpg
Coralgrouper or coral trout from New Caledonia. unknown
38 - olander - brace of yellowedge grouper, gulf.jpg
A brace of yellowedge from the northern Gulf of Mexico, proving that they do aggregate. unknown
39 - speckled blue grouper, new caledonia.jpg
Unmistakable speckled blue grouper, found throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This one was caught in New Caledonia; the world record, an ounce shy of 42 pounds, came from Japan. unknown
40 - amaral, dusky grouper (brasil).jpg
That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Serious grouper are what Capt. Antonio “Tuba” Amaral is all about. He caught this massive dusky grouper off Ilhabela, Brazil, where I fished with him years ago (though he provided this particular photo).

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