Gag Grouper

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Gag Grouper

Species Information

Scientific Name:Mycteroperca microlepis
Common Names:gag grouper, charcoal belly,una aguaj, badejo-da-areia
Environment:Nearshore, Offshore
Ideal Temp:60-82ºF (16-28ºC)

About Gag Grouper

The gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) is a drab, mottled gray fish lacking the distinguishing features of other groupers. It has a pattern of markings which resemble the box-shaped spots of the black grouper. It lacks the streamer-points on the tail fin that scamp (Mycteroperca phenax) and yellowmouth grouper (M. interstitialis) have and lacks yellow coloration around the mouth.

Ten- to twenty-pound (5 to 10 kg) fish are common. The world record is 80 lb 6 oz (36.45 kg). The gag grouper is a bottomfeeder and is often caught by fishermen seeking bottom-dwelling species such as snappers. It has flaky white meat that is considered quite delicious. 

They are found in areas of hard or consolidated substrate, and use structural features such as ledges, rocks, and coral reefs ( as well as artificial reefs like wrecks and sunken barges) as their habitat.

The distribution of gag grouper extends in the western Atlantic from North Carolina, USA (with juveniles occurring as far north as Massachusetts) to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico; it is rare in Bermuda and absent from the Caribbean and Bahamas. Gags are the most common grouper on rocky ledges in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Juvenile gags reside in estuaries and seagrass beds while adults are usually found offshore on hard substrate in water 60 – 250 feet deep (rarely to 152 m) and occasionally inshore on rocky or grassy bottom. Adults are either solitary or found in groups of 5 to 50 individuals.

Spawning aggregations of gags in the Middle Grounds of the Gulf of Mexico from January through March. Young gags are predominantly female, transforming into males, as they grow larger

Bottom fishing is the most effective method of catching gag. Anglers commonly use depth recorders to locate rocky outcrops and irregular bottom where gags congregate, anchoring when a likely area is located. Wrecks and oil rigs in shallow shelf waters of the Gulf also attract many gags. They are an excellent light-tackle target for those fishing relatively shallow waters.


Gag Grouper Fishing

World Record:36.46 kg (80 lb 6 oz) Destin, Florida ,USA
# Fish Caught:179127 documented in database.
Earliest Record:5/1/1865 12:00:00 AM and located at -22.90295, -43.17387.
Latest Record:10/20/2023 8:27:43 PM and located at 34.11437, -83.99784.
Common Techniques:Bottom Fishing
Popular Lure Types:Bottom Rig, Jigs
Fishing Spots:1079 Gag Grouper fishing spots.

Latest Gag Grouper Fishing Reports and Spots

June 2012 Fishing Report - 7/6/2012 2:57:53 AM

Red Snapper season for West Central Florida opens June 1st followed by Gag Grouper. Along with the already open Red Grouper season these extra (View)

March 2013 Fishing Report - 3/4/2013 9:22:58 AM

March is going to be a very exciting month to get out and do some Deep Sea Fishing!  Winter will be behind us and we are gearing up for great f (View)

2024 Gag Grouper Season - 4/27/2016 5:11:03 PM

The 2024 Gag Grouper Season in the Gulf of Mexico for Federally permitted Charter Boats opening has yet to be announced.   The post 2024 Gag Gr (View)

Captain Mack’s Fishing Report-October 20 2023 - 10/20/2023 8:27:43 PM

Another short report this week. I’ll be honest I saw what looked like a good weather window so I took off to the south to participate in the la (View)

We Beat the Wind - 10/2/2023 6:11:00 PM

  I knew it was going to be a pretty day and it was but I was also aware of the winds that have been battering us the last week and they were f (View)

2023 Gag Grouper Season - 4/27/2016 5:11:03 PM

The 2023 Gag Grouper Season in the Gulf of Mexico for Federally permitted Charter Boats will open September 1st and close on November 11th 2023 (View)

What’s in Season October 2023 - 4/16/2017 6:39:59 PM

BlackFin Tuna Gag Grouper Triggerfish Scamp Black Snapper Vermilion Snapper Amberines Almaco Jacks White Snapper Spanish Mackerel King Mackerel (View)

Fishing Report! Monday September 18th 2023 - 9/18/2023 4:48:21 PM

Gag grouper have been plentiful around the 100-140′ range. However they can be caught anywhere from 30-300′. Live pinfish are still the bait of (View)

Fishing Report! Monday September 11th 2023 - 9/11/2023 4:42:57 PM

Gag grouper season is off to a fantastic start! Most fish being caught using pinfish in the 130-140′ range along with some solid yellowtail sna (View)

What’s in Season September 2023 - 4/16/2017 6:39:59 PM

Gag Grouper Triggerfish Scamp Black Snapper Vermilion Snapper Amberines Almaco Jacks White Snapper Spanish Mackerel King Mackerel Lane Snapper (View)