The Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) is probably one of the most sought after species of grouper available in the Florida Keys due to it’s popularity as a great gamefish and excellent table fare. They may be found from very shallow patch reefs (ten feet or so) to around 250 feet of water. They range in size from juveniles to the tackle busting giants of over one hundred pounds.
Although Black Grouper prefer heavy structure, they also may be found along small outcroppings of reef as well as sometimes migrating between the two latter. This is where we like to intercept the really big ones on light tackle. These fish are protected by the government by a closed season, a size limit as well as a bag limit. In support of the protection concerns of this species, we encourage the pursuit of this fish with light tackle. That is, 20 to 30 pound test lines and light rods. In our minds, that makes it “fair chase”. One of our clients, Dr. Steve Lawyer, landed a giant 97 pounder on 20 pound test Ande monofilament line. Believe me when I say that you will still catch your fair share regardless of tackle.
Fishing for Black Grouper is not difficult but does require knowledge of surrounding areas to locate the species. Here at Delph Fishing we have caught hundreds if not thousands of Black Grouper and know the best areas to put you on the large ones. Check out the Black Grouper photos below to see some of our featured Black Grouper catches.
The best bait for Black Grouper is typically live bait. They will eat all varieties of live bait including Pinfish, Pilchards and Threadfins. Dead bait is also an option for catching Black Grouper if you are unable to acquire live bait. Here at Delph Fishing we almost always use live bait for landing these magnificent creatures. A well presented live bait is almost irresistible to a Black Grouper.
Black Grouper are notorious for “rocking you up” when hooking one. It is highly recommended to use proper leader on your rig in order to prevent cutting your line on jagged rocks. It is common for a Black Grouper to head straight for the rocks and lodging themselves in a hole, thus preventing you from gaining any line and ultimately snapping the line. Sometimes it helps to either muscle the fish out of its “anchorage”, or let the line go slack in the hopes that it feels comfortable enough to emerge.
The fight provided from a Black Grouper is an unforgettable experience. They are an extremely strong fish and their large paddle-like tail fin produces heavy thrust. Once you are hooked up the fight is on and large species will take you for a ride. Pull up, gain line and let the fish tire itself out. Once it is at the boat and you see its massive body you will truly appreciate the species.
The Black Groupers’ coloration and patterns are spectacular. Their patterns are very unique to this species, often producing box-like markings throughout its body. One of the coolest parts about a Black Grouper is the lighting bolt like lines that span out from the eye. You will also see orange circles throughout the body. A well lit up Black Grouper is a great photo opportunity.
Black Grouper are excellent table-fare and may be prepared many different ways. Some consider the Black Grouper as the best eating species out of the entire grouper family. Recipes for cooking Black Grouper as well as other types of fish can be found on our Weekly Recipes page.
Black Grouper Photo Gallery
Black Grouper Fishing Locations
The Dry Tortugas is the last, great vestige of sportfishing in the northern hemisphere. This remote group of islands are surrounded by more than ten thousand square miles of fishing resources that have remained relatively untapped due to the time that it would take to cover this vast and remote area.
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico, for our purposes, begins at the North side of the flats, along the lower Florida Keys and includes a portion of the Florida Bay, continuing to the West and North of the Dry Tortugas, encompassing more than 5000 square miles of fishable water within range of our hi-tech, offshore boats.
Key West offers the sportfishing enthusiast the largest variety of gamefish in the world. Other locations will argue that they are the sportfishing capital of the world, or the best for this species or that particular fish. There are more “I.G.F.A. World Records” from the waters of Key West than the next closest, several locations combined.
Marquesas is a magical word that conjures thoughts of tropical breezes, emerald green water surrounding a tropical island paradise. A ring of islands surrounded by acres and acres of pristine water and shallow flats where giant Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Mutton Snappers, great Barracudas and monster Sharks of all kinds prowl the flats.