One of the many grouper species that roam the offshore waters of South Carolina is the gag grouper. Gag grouper are an angler’s favorite because of the combination of the way it fights and tastes. They are similar looking to that of a black grouper and inhabit much of the same waters of more than just South Carolina but Georgia and North Carolina. What is a gag grouper.

How to Identify a Gag Grouper

A gag grouper is very bright with distinct markings. The fish is light brown to gray with wavy brown markings along both sides. All of the fins have a hint of blue, which helps distinguish the gag grouper from the black grouper. A black grouper is darker in color but has the same markings as the gag.

What is the Range of a Gag Grouper

The gag grouper is found mainly in the southern half of the east coast of the United States. It is prevalent between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and Florida. Occasionally the gags are caught as far north as Cape Cod.

How Big do Grouper Grow

The gag grouper can grow very large. They do not grow as big as the giant grouper called a goliath grouper but still manage to exceed fifty pounds. Gag grouper can be landed inshore weighing two to three pounds. Most offshore fish are between twenty and thirty pounds.

How do You Catch Grouper

Gag grouper can be caught in a multitude of ways. The first of which is bottom fishing. Drop lead heavy enough to the bottom on stout rods and reels with 50 to 80-pound line. Grouper spend most of their time around reefs and bottom structure like wrecks. Once a gag is hooked reel fast to move them away from getting hung up in holes and sharp debris. Some of the most popular baits include live baitfish, whole dead baitfish, or cut baitfish.

Another way to catch grouper is by trolling. Deep diving lures trolled around bottom structure can be very effective. The bite will be powerful but don’t mistake it for snagging wrecks and reefs, which can be expected.

Are Grouper Good to Eat

The gag grouper, much like any other grouper in South Carolina, including the red grouper, black grouper, snowy grouper, and more, are all delicious to eat. The fillets are white and firm with large flakes when fully cooked.

When it comes to cooking options, they are endless. Most grouper fillets are thick, making them an excellent presentation on the plate. Although grouper can be fried like most other fish, it is best served as a centerpiece over a bed of rice or grits. Pair it with your favorite vegetable but avoid overcooking the fillet.

Gag Grouper South Carolina Regulations

There are many types of grouper in South Carolina’s offshore waters.  Understand how to identify each kind of grouper to be sure that you can accurately determine what you are looking at when referring to size requirements for harvesting grouper. Make sure that you check with the state of South Carolinas regulations before you head out fishing if you plan to keep gags. Register for a saltwater fishing license or make sure that the current license is still valid. 

Should You Head Offshore to Bottom Fish For Gag

A great benefit to fishing for gags is that they can be caught on nearshore or offshore wrecks. You don’t necessarily have to travel a long distance to catch a grouper; however, your odds increase on deeper structures. Because they can be found closer to shore, long run times can be avoided to save money on fuel costs. Be prepared for a rod bending battle that will test even the most experienced offshore angler. Pull them away from a hole on the bottom before they hide within it, and they becoming challenging to remove.