When fishermen talk about their favorite tasting fish that can be caught off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, most agree that sushi-grade tuna, wahoo, and mahi-mahi are the top choices. We agree that all three of those fish taste great, but we’d argue that another should be added to the list: Grouper. Not only do grouper bite on days when other fish won’t show you the time of day, but they also taste great when prepared correctly. So what does grouper taste like?
If you couldn’t tell already, we’re huge fans of grouper. In this article, we won’t just go over what grouper tastes like – we’ll also discuss which grouper tastes the best in our opinion, as well as how to catch grouper. By the end of the article, you’ll know much more than just what grouper tastes like!
Grouper Tastes Delicious
Now that you know we think grouper tastes delicious, let’s go over what grouper tastes like. Grouper tastes very mild, with a faint sweet underlying flavor. It is one of the mildest fish and has hardly any “fishy” flavor. Some of our friends describe grouper as tasting between seabass and halibut, with a sweetness similar to crab or lobster. Grouper is fairly oily and breaks into large firm flakes.
Author Note: This makes it ideal for many different cooking applications, such as grilling, frying, poaching, and more! Scroll down to the bottom of the article if you want to see our favorite grouper recipes.
What are the Different Types of Grouper?
Now that we’ve gone over what grouper tastes like, let’s talk about the different types of grouper.
Gag grouper are the most popular type of grouper to fish for in shallower waters and are abundant all over the Atlantic ocean. They are brown in color and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage. If you end up catching a grouper from shore, chances are it is a gag grouper – they love hanging out in coastal rock beds where their prey lives. Trolling is also a great choice for catching gag grouper, as you can easily troll your lure close enough to where they hang out.
Another really common type of grouper you’ll catch in the Atlantic red grouper. Red grouper are red and live in slightly deeper water than the gag grouper. We like fishing for them from boat using chum and grouper bait. Since they’re in deeper water, you’ll want to use a sizeable weighted setup to get your bait close to them. Red grouper is very similar to salmon grouper.
Black grouper is another popular type of grouper to fish for that lives in a similar habitat to red grouper. They also look very similar to red grouper, except that they are dark grey and black in color.
Another species of grouper that you’re likely to encounter if you fish deep enough is the goliath grouper. Goliath grouper grow to be massive – which made them a big target for commercial fisheries in the 1900s. Because of their unwary nature and large size, they were almost fished to extinction before being placed on the protected endangered species list. If you do end up catching a giant grouper, you’ll need to let it go.
Which Grouper Tastes Best?
Now that you know what the most common species of grouper are, which one tastes the best? As with any food, the best flavor is a very subjective opinion. After polling the grouper fishermen in our network, red and black grouper were the favorites.
Red grouper tends to taste slightly milder, however black grouper grow larger and have more accessible fillets. Black grouper also tends to have firmer meat that holds up better to frying or more intense preparations.
Author Note: Both fish have the signature grouper mild sweet flavor, and both have a moderate amount of oil that keeps their texture favorable even if slightly overcooked.
Best Tackle for Grouper
Grouper can be caught from boats on most bottom fishing setups. We recommend getting a medium to heavy bottom fishing reel and a sturdy 6 to 7 foot saltwater rod. Pair these with a grouper bottom fishing rig and your favorite grouper bait, and you’ll be good to go!
If you’re fishing for grouper from shore, we recommend using a medium surf fishing reel and surf fishing rod, pair with a fish finder rig. This setup is killer for gag grouper, and if you can cast your bait far enough out you might even hook a red or black grouper.
A simple single hook rig with lead weights are commonly used to catch grouper and is accompanied by either live or cut bait. Other common lures used to catch grouper are jig presentations, due to grouper having a tendency to be clustered around deep structure like reefs, rock piles, and wrecks.
Jigging spoons and deep diving crankbaits are also great lure options for the smaller grouper species, and used in the proper way can all you to fish quickly and efficiently.
Where Can I Catch Grouper?
Grouper live mostly off the eastern seaboard and can be caught from both the shore and by boat. Here are some general tips on where to fish for grouper and how to catch them.
- If you’re bottom fishing from a boat, we recommend drifting instead of anchoring near where the grouper are. Drifting will allow you to cover more area and bet your grouper lures in front of more fish.
- Since grouper live in and around rocks, set your drag tight to prevent them from running back into cover. If you let a grouper take your bait then retreat to its rocky home, chances are your line will snap against the rocks. Having an extra tight drag prevents a hooked grouper from swimming back to cover.
- Go grouper fishing when conditions are bad for other fish. Since grouper tend to live near the bottom, they aren’t as affected by bad fishing conditions. Chances are they’ll be just as hungry and ready to bite as any other day.
When Is The Best Time to Catch Grouper
Grouper fishing is the best from the months of October to December in the southern reaches of their range like in Florida, but grouper can be caught year-round in most places, and in the northern areas the summer can be a great time to catch them.
If are planning a trip to fishing for grouper, contact the local fishing guides in the areas you are visiting to find out when the bite will be the best, so you can have the optimal fishing conditions while on your trip.
Favorite Grouper Recipes
Grouper can be prepared in many different ways and the only real limits is your culinary imagination. Here are our two favorite recipes for grouper. The first one is a similar recipe to what we like to use when cooking redfish, and the second is a standard recipe for frying white fish. Enjoy!
Southern Cajun Grouper
- ½ cup of melted butter.
- 4 teaspoons of Louisiana Fish Fry Cajun Seasoning.
- 2 cloves of minced garlic.
- 3 or 4 filets of grouper
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave.
- Dip your redfish filets in the melted butter.
- Dredge the filets through the dry ingredients.
- In a large pan, throw in a knob of butter and sear the filets on each side for 2 minutes.
- Put the seared grouper fillets on a baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
- Let cool, and enjoy!
Grouper Fish Sticks
If you like your fish fried, then this is the recipe for you! Fried grouper tastes very similar to cod or other whitefish (like Tripletail), and is amazing when prepared fresh, it’s also easier to prepare, making in great for dinners with large numbers of friends and family.
- 2 grouper fillets
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- Cut the grouper into 3 inch long strips.
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl until combined.
- Pour panko crumbs into a large bowl.
- Pour flour into a small bowl.
- Dredge your grouper sticks first through the flour, then through the eggs, and finally the panko.
- Heat your oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your grouper sticks in the oil.
- Fry for approximately 3 minutes and flip.
- Remove from the oil, let cool, and enjoy!
Grouper is our favorite fish to fish for when other species just aren’t biting. Chances are you’ll catch one and end up with a tasty dish you can cook for dinner that night. We hope that you now know what grouper tastes like and will be more likely to fish for it when other plans fall through. Got your own grouper recipe you would like to share with us? Let us know about it in the comments below.