It was the high end of a moving tide on May 7, 2022 and IGFA Chairman Roy Cronacher was working an 8-ounce yellow jig tipped with a whole live bait in 250 feet of water off Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco Out Islands of the Bahamas.
“At that time of year we know the big grouper are going to be around for about 30 days or so each spring,” says the widely-traveled fisherman. “I don’t know why they’re there, but they are. I used to spear fish the area years ago, and the grouper just show up in May.”
Cronacher was jigging the lure high off bottom in 10- to 15-foot hops, when he felt a solid strike.
“Most of the fish hit right after the lure lift, and that’s when this one struck,” he said.
With 20-pound class line on a Shimano conventional reel, and a Biscayne rod, Cronacher, 73, fought the fish for 23 minutes. Then he drew the oversize black grouper to the boat – “Empty Pockets” – where crew members Andy Ford and Don McIntosh muscled the fish into the 39-foot SeaVee center console.
They made a run to Manjack Cay to officially weigh the fish on IGFA certified scales. It weighed 41-pounds, 13-ounces.
Cronacher’s fish has now officially been accepted as the new 20-pound Line Class World IGFA Record for black grouper. His fish tops the previous record 20-pound line catch of an 18-pound black grouper taken off Key West in Dec. 2009 by angler Ronald Glinski.
Not one to rest on his laurels, and knowing the grouper were still in the Abacos, Cronacher was back out on May 30, deep jigging again, this time from his own boat “Gladiator”. He was accompanied by the same boat crew of Ford and McIntosh, though on a 49-foot Rybovich.
He was using 8-pound test line with a lift-and-drop action on a heavy yellow jig tipped with a whole live bait. Once again Cronacher hit paydirt by hooking, boating, and weighing a 37-pound, 9-ounce IGFA 8-pound line class world record black grouper. Cronacher’s fish beat the prior 8-pound test black grouper record of only 2-pounds, 8-ounces taken near Marathon in the Florida Keys in Nov. 2009 by angler Martin Arostegui.
“We’re going back next spring and try for another black grouper world record for 6-pound test line,” says Cronacher, who lives in Naples, Florida. “We know the fish are there in the Bahamas at that time of year, and I think we’ll get it done.”
The current 6-pound line class record black grouper is a 6-pound, 8-ounce fish, caught in Apr. 2010 out of Marathon, Florida, also by angler Martin Arostegui.