Grouper Fish: The Nightmare of Deep Waters

In recent years, extensive research has been done to reach the net number of fish species. According to the results of these studies, there are more than 15 thousand fish species in total in the world’s seas. Among the largest of these is grouper fish. So, do you know what are groupers?

Grouper fish, which is a distant relative of sea bass and is located in the serranid type, is one of the favorite fish species due to its characteristics. Grouper fish, which have different species, are endangered, so grouper fishing is banned in most countries. Grouper, which can be in sizes ranging from 70 cm to 1.5 meters, is among the fish with the limited catch. Grouper, which is a carnivore and is at the top of the food chain in the regions where it lives, has suffered a serious population loss due to unconscious hunting with harpoons.

The grouper fish belonging to the Serranidae family has a flat and oval body. Its mouth and head are larger than its body. It has thick skin covered with small scales. The back is dark-colored and the lower part of the body is light-colored. The sex of the grouper fish changes when it is an adult. A grouper fish has female organs when it reaches sexual maturity. When it reaches the age of 18, it gets rid of the femininity and returns to the male form. He continues the next period of his life as a male fish. Their habitats are up to 100 meters deep in water. They find habitats on the rocks here.

The average size of a grouper fish is around 60 cm. The longest form is known as 140 cm. The average-sized grouper weighs 15 kg. Large sizes can be 60 kg. These fish gain 1 kg each year they live. Their life span is up to 60 years. The names of the grouper fish vary according to the region. This fish species, which is distantly related to sea bass, is also delicious.

General Features of the Grouper Fish

Grouper fish is related to sea bass. It can reach a height of 60-70 centimeters to 1-1.5 meters and a weight of 30-40 kilograms. It is Aegean and Mediterranean fish. It lives alone in stony, sandy, and mossy coastal areas from 8 meters to 150 meters depths. It is carnivorous. It feeds on large and small crustaceans and mollusks. Although its meat is very tasty, the elderly are dry and fibrous. It is dangerously consumed by underwater harpoon hunters in terms of the life of the species.

The body is flat and oval from the side. Head and mouth are big. The skin is thick and covered with small scales. The 1st dorsal fin is higher and is joined with the 2nd dorsal fin. There are greenish, yellow spots and vertical bands on the head, back, and sides that are seen when it is alive and disappear when it dies. Gill covers open and thorny. The tail fin is round. Grouper (Epinephelus Marginatus) living on rocky bottoms in the seas is the most common Epinephelus species in the Mediterranean.

The grouper at the top of the food chain in rocky areas is hermaphrodite, representing both male and female individuals. The grouper, which lives an average of 50 years, has to live at least 5-8 years to be female in its life cycle, and 12-18 years to be male. Grouper, which has a long life cycle, therefore reaches reproductive maturity late. The grouper, who chooses the rocky areas where he can hide, usually lives alone and owns the place where he lives. Young individuals of the grouper are found in shallow waters, while adult individuals are found in deep waters.

The grouper is a hermaphrodite and has female sex organs when it reaches sexual maturity. After spending a certain period of his life as a female, when he reaches the age of 18, the female sex organs disappear and the male sex organs develop instead and he lives the rest of his life as a male. Its depth is 100 m. It lives between the rocks of the waters of up to 60 cm in size, with a maximum of 140 cm. Its average weight is 15 kg. It gains a maximum of 60 kg. Each year it lives, it gains one weight and lives 60 years.

Since the grouper is stonefish, it lives in stony areas and empties as many stones as possible in the pasture where it lives in a way that it can easily enter. Every stone in the pasture is a shelter for Grouper in case of danger. While the grouper empties the bottom of the stones in the fish pasture for its safety and comfortable hunting, it prepares protection and amnesty places for other stonefish. In this way, each bottom stone makes the pasture a more efficient place by increasing the amount of fish in the pasture.

Especially for bream type stonefish, the undermined stones are common areas with Groupers. In case of danger, groupers and bream type stonefish develop a defense strategy of their own by passing from one stone to another and losing themselves. In the case of preserving groupers in a pasture, since the groupers grow over the years, they expand the bottom of the stones they use to suit their size, thus increasing the amount of other stone fish that can live in the pasture. This is the most rational justification that necessitates the protection of Grouper.

Scientific research shows that the population of grouper, which is at risk in all world seas, has decreased rapidly in the last 20 years. Habitat loss, environmental pollution, illegal and over-hunting are the main threats to the grouper. Since they gather in certain areas during breeding, they become an easy target for fishermen, increasing the pressure on the species. Grouper, whose populations in the Mediterranean are rapidly decreasing, is under protection by Mediterranean countries within the scope of the Bern Convention and is defined as “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List.

An Endangered Species: Grouper Fish

Grouper is the common name of several large fish species of the Serranidae family. They live in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean generally close to the coast and in the stony bottom. Their bodies are flattened from the sides, their heads are large, their tail fins are wide. They have a single fin with 11 spike rays on their back. The number of soft rays of the dorsal fin varies by species. Epinephelus Alexandrinus, one of the grouper species reaches at most 140 cm, generally in the range of 30-70 cm in length.

There are 16-18 soft rays on the dorsal fin. The abdomen is yellow. On the back and sides, which are brown or yellowish-brown, there are 5-7 dark bands that can disappear as the fish gets bigger. Unlike other species, the tip of the tail is indented inward. E. Guaza species is at most 100 cm in length, usually, 20-80 cm, has a dorsal fin of 13-16 soft rays, the tip of its tail fin is convex and white, its body is brown, in young fish it is decorated with white spots in transverse rows.

E. Guaza, like the previous species, is known as yellow in some places. Although the length of E. Caninus can exceed 150 cm, it is usually 30-100 cm. There are 13-14 soft rays on the dorsal fin. Its color can range from reddish-brown to grayish purple. There are no obvious spots on his body. Two oblique dark lines that extend back from the back of its eyes disappear over time. Its teeth are larger than other species. The length of the Mycteroperca Rubra species does not exceed 80 cm. The dorsal fin is 15-17 soft rays, the back is reddish-brown, the sides and abdomen are lighter, and the body is decorated with wavy lines and white spots. Some interesting facts about grouper fish are:

  • There are more than a hundred types of grouper.
  • Groupers can change the color of the bright markings on their bodies to match the background.
  • They swim slowly but strong.
  • They are born and mature as females but can change their sex as needed to aid reproduction. Because they tend to live in groups ranging from 3 to 15 females and 1 male, a female can turn herself into a male so there is no trouble in mating.
  • Grouper fish are estimated to live up to 50 years old.

Fishing Groupers: Methods and Techniques

The scientific name of the grouper from the Serranidae family is Epinephelus Gigas. 30-50 kilograms of groupers with a height of 60 cm to 120 cm are encountered. It is Aegean and Mediterranean fish. It is found in open waters in the Aegean, except for the Saroz Gulf and the Dardanelles. There are very large genera in the Caribbean, weighing between 120-300kg along the South Atlantic coast. It is an extremely powerful fish, one of the biggest prey of underwater sports. Grouper fish live in stony and cavernous places. Groupers approaching the shore in summer retreat to their rocks and cavities in waters of 300-400 meters in winter.

Grouper fish skins are thick and hard. Its body is dark gray or brown with yellowish spots. Their belly is a lighter brown. Their teeth resemble a brush, the inside of its mouth is orange. Grouper hunting is done by pulling the back with a plummet tackle or double-eye sinker tackle while the boat is on the iron, with the bottom drag tackle while the boat is in motion, with an artificial fish or an artificial emulsion tackle. It can also be hunted by fishing nets. The main baits used in plummet and double-eye sinker tackles are large shrimp, whole cuttlefish, octopus pieces, mackerel, and so on. As with every hunt, the freshness of the feed provides more positive results.

Grouper has a very strong jaw. When he jumps on the fishing line, he wants to grab the bait and quickly escape towards his stone. If he can be pulled into the boat for 5-8 strokes by resisting a little without giving the leash a chance, he will be helpless because he moves away from his environment. Otherwise, if a gap is given when the bait is grabbed, it quickly enters the cavity between the rocks and resists not exiting by inflating its head.

Under these conditions, it is not possible to remove the fish from the stone. In the Aegean and the Mediterranean, it is said that, in the face of such a situation in grouper fishing, fishers put eyestone and sinker into a small bag from the cloth and lower it into the groove where the grouper entered, and with the help of melting eyestone, the fish unloose itself from its stone.

When the fish approaches the boat, it is taken to the boat with a very large gaff or by inserting the fingers into the eye sockets and holding them there. The point that the amateur fisherman will pay attention to is that you should not put your hand in the gills of the fish. Since the gill of the grouper and the opercula edge are sharp like a razor blade, the hand is cut off at once and remains in the blood. Two types of tackle are used in hunting with the boat on an iron:

  • Plummet (Spinner) Tackle

The fishing line of 100 lugs, 1.00mm or 1.20mm, which constitutes the fishing line of the set, is wrapped around the butterfly (cork) and its free end is connected to a very strong swivel of 4cm. It may give better results if the line is light green or yellow and stiff. After the empty end of the line is connected to the swivel, a body of 1.00mm or 0.80mm in 1 stroke length is attached to the empty ring. The other end of the body is attached to a swivel of the two side swivel clamps weighing 80-90g. The empty eye of the other swivel is attached as a shackle of a 1.5 stroke length of 0.80mm or 0.70mm thick line.

At the end of the mole, a plumb weighing 40-50gr and having a 9/0 hook at the end is attached. This plummet is the same as that used in the bonito hunt. When the bearing is taken and the hunting area is reached, the iron is thrown beyond the hunting area. The purpose of this is that when the fishing line is put into the water, the lullaby, which is dragged by the water, reaches the full hunting area. After the bottom is found, it is checked once again whether the hunting ground is stony or not by pinch-hitting the bottom. If the bottom is rocky, the fishing line is taken 3 fathoms up. In this case, the bait plummet will float 1.5 fathoms above the bottom. Without losing this distance, the fish are expected to be pulled a little from time to time and left a little.

  • Double-Eye Sinker Tackle

100 ladder length 1.00mm or 0.90mm thick line constituting the fishing line of the set is wrapped around the cork and its empty end is connected to a 4cm swivel. One stroke long and 0.80mm line is attached to the empty ring of the swivel. After the free end of the body is attached to another 4cm swivel, an additional body of 1.5 fathoms and 0.80mm is attached to the empty ring of the swivel.

The other end of the additional body is attached to the empty eye of a double-eyed sinker weighing 90 grams, and the fishing line forming a shackle with a thickness of 0.70 mm and a length of 1.5 fat is attached to the other eye of the sinker. A 9/0 number steel needle is tied to the head end of the mole and tackle is completed. After coming to the hunting area and anchoring, the fishing line is put into the water and the sinker is expected to find the bottom. After the sinker finds the bottom of the sea, the fishing line is taken 2.5 fathoms up and the fish is waited for. In the grouper hunt which is done while the boat is in motion, two types of tackles are used:

Grouper Hunt with Bottom Drag

This tackle is almost the same as the tackle used in hunting fish such as dentex and leer fish. Therefore, it is possible to catch such fish as well when the tackle is used for grouper. While navigating very slowly against the water with the engine, the sinker of the tackle should be used by paying attention that it remains apeak as much as possible, hits on the rock bottom, and doesn’t get caught in anything. The hunting grounds are rocky, stony, and cave crests that deepen suddenly. The driver of the engine helps his friend using the fishing rod, sometimes at idle and sometimes by giving way to the engine slightly.

Hunting at dawn and sunset is more productive. If desired, the tip of the tackle can be attached to a number 4 French spoon carrying two naked or triple hooks. In the archipelago with single or double bare hooks, baits should be fitted so that they cover the needles well. Whole cuttlefish, mackerel, octopus cut in large pieces are used in this tackle. When it comes to the hunting area, the baited shackle is released into the sea, when it comes to the part where the triple swivel and the sinker are located, this part is thrown slightly forward to prevent the mole from winding on the triple swivel.

The fishing rod is slowly lowered to the bottom and the sinker is expected to touch the bottom, then it is left apeak and rubbed to the bottom, and the boat travels very slowly in the hunting area. As the fish may request a route as soon as it is caught, at least 10-15 fathoms of the fishing line are unreeled from the fishing reel. It is necessary not to wind the fishing line to your hand while hunting. There is a 3cm swivel above the sinker in the prepared tackle. This provides both the scale of the line connected to the sinker and easy removal if the sinker gets caught between the stones. As soon as the fish grabs the bait, it rises the sinker. First, a gap in the fishing line and then a hard hit is felt.

Grouper is a fish that grabs its bait and runs away on its stone. Without allowing this action, you should immediately put on a very strong leash and quickly pull the fishing line towards the boat for 5-6 strokes. Meanwhile, the person using the engine turns towards the fish and takes the engine to idle, and allows his friend to pull the fish into the boat more easily. If necessary, it can start the engine and go over. When the fish is brought closer to the boat, it is taken in with a very large gaff or by pressing the thumb and index fingers into the eyes. After 100 fathoms of 0.80mm thick fishing line is wrapped around the butterfly, a 3cm swivel is attached to its free end. A body of 0.70mm, 2 fathoms long, is attached to the other eye of the swivel.

The other end of the body is attached to the first eye of the 4cm triple swivel. After attaching to the opposite eye of the triple swivel on a line with a length of 0.80mm of 1.5 lugs, a 3cm swivel was made on the free end of the line, a short line is tied to the other end of this swivel and its end is cased. A sinker weighing 160-200g is attached to this case. After tying a line of 0.60mm of length to the third eye of the swivel, the empty end of the line is attached to a 3cm swivel and a shackle of 4 stroke length and 0.60mm is attached to the empty ring of this swivel. A bare 9/0 hook is attached to the tip of the mole. While preparing the tackle, it is necessary to make sure that the knots fit very well.

You can also catch grouper fish with the jigging method. The area you are in must be rocky. Since the mouth of the grouper is large, the best result will be achieved using 15-30cm jigs.

Can Grouper Fish Be Eaten?

Grouper meat is very tasty and is therefore widely hunted. Harpoons are often used for grouper hunting, which has spiny fins and thick scaly skin. Because groupers live alone and their numbers are not as high as before, they are not seen in fishermen stalls such as bluefish, mackerel, and bonito. Since the summer months are the breeding period, a grouper ban is imposed on the summer season. In autumn, grouper hunting is done using equipment such as nets, fishing lines, and harpoons.

Grouper Ban: It is applied within the framework of the Communiqués Regulating Fisheries for Commercial and Amateur Purposes and hunting is restricted with the grouper ban. Even when the grouper fish is caught in the net, it must be released into the sea. The grouper ban is effectively implemented in all of the European coasts of the Mediterranean. Grouper fish is easy to hunt because it is a fish that has a house and lives around this house. Groupers, which are described as pure fish by fishermen, do not run fast due to their curiosity and can be easy targets.

The thick skin of the grouper, which has a flat and oval shape, is covered with scales. There are special greenish, yellow spots and vertical bands on the head, back, and sides of the fish, which have two dorsal fins in different sizes and joined to each other. These spots, which enable the fish to camouflage much more successfully, disappear spontaneously when it dies. It is not easy to clean the grouper fish whose gill covers are barbed and the caudal fin is round. The scales should be cleaned very well and it is recommended to keep the fish in the refrigerator for 1 day after cleaning.

One of the tricks of cleaning grouper fish is to soak the fish in warm water for a while before removing its scales. By doing so, scales can be scraped more easily. After the scales are thoroughly cleaned, the head of the grouper fish, which is opened in the form of leaves with a fillet knife and the coarse bone is removed, can be cut with chicken scissors.

Grouper Cooking Methods

Baked Grouper: The recipe for grouper fish in the oven, which is both healthier and more delicious, is a practical dish. Baked grouper is cooked with special sauces. Coconut oil is used in the oven-baked grouper fish, which is cooked with mashed tomatoes and sauteed onions and garlic. The sauce is poured over the fish and then the mixture of flour and cheddar is placed on the fish. After adding the preferred spices, it is cooked for half an hour.

Steamed Grouper: For steaming the grouper, the finely chopped onions are roasted in a mixture of butter and olive oil. A little tomato paste can be added according to preference. After adding salt and pepper, add the fish and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. While serving, first the fish are put on the serving plate and then the sauce with tomato paste is poured over it. Parsley and lemon can also be used during the presentation.

Grilled Grouper: Younger groupers give very tasty results when grilled as they are fatter. Grouper fish, which has robust and fresh meat, is grilled and cooked according to taste and served with appropriate food. Before grilling the grouper, it is recommended to marinate the meat correctly.

Grouper Skewer: Grouper fish is suitable for cooking on skewers as well as grilled meat. Fillet groupers are cut to sizes to be cooked and dipped in olive oil and salt in a bowl. It is kept in the refrigerator for about an hour. In the meantime, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, scallions, salt, and black pepper are blended and turned into sauce. Groupers covered with a little flour are first put in a bottle and then spread on the sauce. Lemon and bay leaf are also added while skewering.

Other Cooking Ways: Those looking for a grouper fish recipe can also resort to different cooking options with the firm and fresh meat of the fish. For example, bean stew can be made with grouper fish. The method of cooking it in salt in the oven also gives very good results in grouper fish. Pan-frying can also be done. Thanks to the structure of the grouper fish meat, it can be consumed as boiled or in a soup. The grouper fish, whose internal organs are completely removed and the bloody parts are completely cleaned, should also be salted before resting.

The breeding season for grouper fish is between June and August. Grouper hunting can be done from September through the autumn. As the winter months approach, it becomes fat, and the taste of fish meat increases. Since it is not widely caught, grouper prices can also be found relatively high. There may be grouper prices that vary depending on the season and the place where it is sold.

Grouper is a fish rich in vitamins. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 are densely available. Minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc are abundant in the meat of grouper fish, which is also rich in minerals. While consuming grouper fish, which has a high amount of cholesterol, it is recommended to pay attention to that and not to consume excessively.

Especially cholesterol patients should consume this fish very carefully. Grouper fish, which is a dense protein source, also includes Omega-3 fatty acids, although not as intense as tuna. Grouper fish, which is much more beneficial when consumed in the season, supports the bone structure against bone resorption with the calcium it contains.

Best Grouper Jigs That You Can Buy Online

Savaş Ateş

When I was a kid I had a small aquarium in our home. I had different kinds of fishes. I like fishes. Then I started to research all kinds of fishes and fishing too. I read lots of books about them. I like to share my experiences.

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