SIZE: The largest of our Mycteroperca groupers, the Black frequently exceeds 50 pounds in weight and can top 100 pounds.World record 124 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent.
GAME QUALITIES: Considered best of the Groupers.
TACKLE AND BAITS: For all-around work, ocean gear with lines of 30-pound test or higher gets the call. Light-tackle fishermen in South Florida, however, have caught many Blacks over 50 pounds. One key— besides a huge helping of luck—is to hook the fish while drifting, instead of at anchor. The drift of the boat adds to the power of the tackle and just might help drag the big fish far enough away from his rocky “hole” that he cannot get back. For drifting or still fishing, the best baits are frisky live fish, such as Blue Runners or other small jacks. Pinfish and Pilchards are good too, as are Mullet heads and other large cut baits. Best casting lures are leadhead jigs, weighing from 1-4 ounces, depending on depth. Trolling over the reefs with rigged, swimming Mullet, feather-and- strip combos, and large plugs also takes many.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing;Trolling.
RANGE: Sometimes encountered in the deep Gulf and upper Atlantic, but common only in South Florida, the Keys and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Blacks of many sizes are commonly found around the edges of coral reefs, from about 30 feet of water out to the deepest dropoffs. Even big fish, however, may roam to much shallower patch reefs, especially in cooler seasons. Small Blacks may also frequent creeks, espe- cially in the Bahamas.