Grouper (Red) Fishing (Ephinephelus morio)

All Tackle Record
42lbs, 4oz

Grouper (Red) Fishing (Ephinephelus morio)

Red Groupers are prime bottom fishing game in Florida. Landing one requires more persistence than skill, making this fish an inviting catch for younger, novice anglers as well.

The species is long-lived and slow to mature. After spawning offshore, juveniles spend the first 4-5 years in inshore waters, before migrating back offshore, to hardbottom sea floors - pilings, rocks, wrecks, reefs and other surfaces suitable for excavation; they love digging up homes for themselves.

An interesting fact about Red Groupers is that they're monandric protogynous hermaphrodites - this is a fancy way to say that all of them are born as females, transforming to males between ages 7 and 12.

How big

Red Groupers are considered mature at 17-21''. After transitioning to males, they grow to at least 23''. An average size catch will be between 3 and 10lbs.

About to break into tears of joy. Caught aboard Ruthless in Destin, FL

When & Where

Red Groupers are present in the western waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from southern Brazil to North Carolina, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Carribean Sea. Spawning takes place January through June, with the peak happening March through May.

They are most conveniently caught off the west coast of Florida, from the Keys to the Panhandle. They move closer inshore during colder months and offshore for the summer. You can target them in waters from 15 to 60 miles out, respectively. Waters from Boca Grande to the Everglades offer opportunities for shallow water pass fishing for smaller Groupers.

These guys have fulfilled their life's purpose. Nice mixed bag!

How to catch

Unlike most other Groupers, Reds can be caught on relatively light tackle. If you're fishing in shallow waters, you should chum with small shrimp pieces, heads and shells, while using whole shrimp as bait. Crabs and small whole fish will do the trick as well. Open water calls for heavier chum, for which you can use a mix of ground up fish and bread, or canned fish or pet food.

Big Groupers are best caught on live bait - small JC, blue runners, ballyhoo, pinfish, porgies, menhaden, small Snappers or grunts; cut bait will also be good, and you can use mullet, sardines, cigar minnows, Bonito, squirrel fish, ladyfish or squid. Luckily, these fish are not very picky about food - this gives good opportunity for jigs as well. Once the fish is hooked, the main goal is to prevent it from heading into its hole.

Good to eat?

Not as delicious as some other Groupers, but they are still considered very good table fare. Some large specimens have been connected to ciguatera (fish poisoning).


Season - Atlantic waters - closed January 1 - April 30, Gulf waters - open year-round; Federal waters - closed February 1 - March 31 when fishing after the 20-fathom break. In-season closures occur once quotas are reached;
Size limit - minimum 20'';
Bag limit (per angler per day) - Atlantic waters: 3; Gulf waters: 2 for Florida, 4 for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana; catch limits subject to 3 Grouper aggregate for Atlantic waters and 4 Grouper aggregate for Gulf waters;


Similar Game Fish:

Grouper (Red) Fishing Destinations