Taken as a group, the grouper is one of the most popular game and table fish in all of Key West. Here is your guide to everything you need to know about the most common varieties of grouper to be found in the water around Key West.
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The black grouper is one of the most popular fish in Key West. There are two main reasons for this popularity. First, its mild, delectable flavor makes the black grouper an excellent table fish. Second, they put up just enough of a fight to be a highly sought after game fish as well. You can find the occasional black grouper further north along the Atlantic Coast, but they’re much more abundant in the Bahamas, here in the Florida Keys, and in the Caribbean.
Size and Appearance
You can identify a black grouper by its size and its uniquely beautiful appearance. Although they can occasionally grow up to over 4 feet long and weigh in at 100 pounds, the average black grouper is between 2-3 feet long and weighs about 10-20 pounds.
The black grouper is visually striking, both in and out of the water. Their coloring is quite variable, ranging from an olive green to a splotchy gray with dazzling patterns that emanate from the eyeball and radiate toward the tail in very complex lines.
Fishing for Black Grouper in Key West
The black grouper can be a something of a challenge to catch, but that’s a big part of the fun. As long as you know where to find them and what bait to use, you should be able to land one without too much trouble. They’re most often found near reefs and other strong structures, but they sometimes swim in open waters as well.
Sometimes its easier to catch a black grouper if your boat is drifting because you can use the boat to pull them away from the structure.
As soon as grouper is hooked it will run with all its force into the nearest hole. If he gets himself deep enough in, you won’t get him out.
As far as bait goes, they’re more likely to go after live fish such as Blue Runners and Pilchards, but dead bait sometimes works too.