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The image above is a Macro shot of the gill plate of a Black Grouper. Did you get it right? Read on to find out much more about one of our favorite fish, the Black Grouper.
First things first, if you were guessing what fish was featured in the close up photo on Instagram and Facebook, the answer was Black Grouper. If you guessed correctly, congrats! Black groupers are excellent eating and are considered of the highest quality game fish of all groupers.
Black groupers have a similar appearance to a gag or yellowfin grouper, but are distinguished by their olive or gray body color with large dark rectangular blotches, and small hexagon shaped bronze spots on the face and lower side.
Adult Black groupers are often found on coral reef systems, rocky bottoms and drop off walls, while juvenile fish can be found on inshore reef areas as shallow as 10 feet. Juveniles have a diet that consists of mainly crustaceans, but adults are known to feed on not only crustaceans, but also smaller reef fishes, such as grunts, snapper, pilchards and herring.
Boat Set up
By using your depth finder and anchor, you can present baits to these fish within feet of their home. Once you have marked your spot on the depth finder, set up directly up wind or current and then drop your anchor while keeping your eye on both the depth finder and chart to ensure the boat lays exactly where you want it.
For a different style of fishing, setting the boat up current, far enough to drop your baits to the bottom, and drift fishing over the spots is helpful for pulling large fish off of rocky bottom, using the momentum of the boat.
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Bait and Chumming
Although cut bait, such as ballyhoo, herring or mullet, often works, live baits, such as pinfish, play a pivotal role in catching these large and powerful fish. Also, using a traditional chum bag and block will enable you to get these fish out of their rocky homes and in the mood to feed.
Tackle and Rigging
For a simple rig, use 80 pound Seaguar Threadlock High-Impact Braid as a main line tied to a 5/0 3 way swivel with 10 to 20 feet of 100 pound Seaguar Big Game Fluoro Premier fluorocarbon tied to the other end of the swivel. The heavier the current, the longer the leader. On the third hole of the swivel, use 2 feet of 60 pound leader with your weights that are stopped by a small swivel. Weights will range from 4 to 16 ounces depending on the speed of current where you are fishing. Use a 9/0 offset circle hook tied to the 100 pound leader and hook your bait through the nostrils when current is heavy, and through the back when current is minimal. During heavy current, bring bait up one to two cranks on the reel and during lighter current, bring it 4 to 6 cranks off the bottom.
A heavy action rod and a reel that is not only lightweight, but will also have the drag capabilities to stop theses fish is key to your success. Shimano's Torium reel is not only lightweight and perfect for live bait bottom fishing, it also has up to 24 pounds of drag and a "Super Stopper" anti-reverse setting that enables anglers to have the ultimate hook setting power.
Cook your Catch
Here is a simple recipe that is perfect for delicious black grouper.
5 (6-ounce) grouper fillets
1/4 cup Cajun Spice Mix
5 teaspoons canola oil
5 teaspoons butter
10 lemon wedges
Rub each side of fillets with Cajun Spice Mix and Heat 2 1/2 teaspoons oil and 2 1/2 teaspoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium to high heat. Add fillets to the skillet and cook for around 4 minutes on each side or until the grouper flakes easily with a fork. Repeat this with the remaining fillets, oil, and butte and serve with lemon wedges.