Gag grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean wherever there is cover for hiding such as shipwrecks and reefs. The best techniques for for catching Gag grouper are bottom fishing, drift fishing, night fishing and jigging using live bait.
Habitat: Bay, Ocean
How to identify Gag Grouper
Most gag groupers are female when they are young. As they grow, they change into males like other species in the Wrasse family. The color of these fish can vary; however, they are typically gray-brown with unique dark markings that look like kiss marks. Gags and black groupers coexist in the same area. To tell them apart, look at the preopercle in both fish. In the gag, the preopercles are single-notched with a pronounced lobe, whereas in black groupers they are rounder. Both fish have distinct markings, but those on blacks are squared instead of kiss-shaped.
Where to catch Gag Grouper
Gags can be found the western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina in the eastern U.S. down to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Younger fish can be found as far north as Massachusetts. Rarely are gags found in the Bahamas or Caribbean. In the eastern area of the Gulf of Mexico, these groupers most commonly inhabit rocky areas. Young gag groupers inhabit beds of seagrass or inland waters while adults prefer the bottoms of deep offshore areas. Gag grouper are often found where there is cover as they like to hide.
The following are habitats where you can catch Gag Grouper:
- Coastal Waters
- Jetties and Breakers
- Man-made Structures
- Reefs, Wrecks and Shoals
- Rocky Sea Floor
How to catch Gag Grouper
The best method to use to catch gag groupers is bottom fishing. Anglers often use depth sounders to find gags in and around rocky bottoms. They are also fond of crabs and can often be found hanging around crab traps. Once these fish have been found, the boat is usually anchored. Gags congregate in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico in and around shipwrecks and pilings. Anglers can also try trolling rocky bottoms in shallow waters using plugs or light tackle.
Once caught, gag groupers can be a challenge to wrangle into the boat. They often dive deep after snagging the bait, looking to hide in the rocks below. For this reason, anglers should make sure to lock their reel to keep the fish from diving.
The most effective methods for catching Gag grouper include bottom fishing, drift fishing, night fishing and jigging using live bait.
The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching Gag Grouper:
- Bottom Bouncer
- Drift Fishing
- Night Fishing
- Saltwater Jigging
- Saltwater Trolling
- Still Fishing
Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch Gag Grouper
Gag groupers love live bait, such as pinfish and mullet. Cut baits, such as squid, crabs, and octopus can also work well for catching these fish.
The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch Gag Grouper: