Mycteroperca Microlepis



Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef

10 - 50 pounds

24" - 57"

Gag Grouper

Also Known As: Charcoal Belly, Velvet Rockfish, Grouper  

Guides Who Fish This Species

Gag Grouper (Mycteroperca Microlepis) Fish Description

The Gag Grouper appears to be one of the less aesthetically appealing fish among the Groupers. Some even describe the Gag Grouper as “drab” in appearance. Its fins are mostly composed are rays and have a laterally-compressed oblong body. However, it does have a similarity to the Black Grouper: it’s the box-shaped black spots on the back. Their dorsal fins have 11 spines mixed with 16-18 rays while their anal fins have 3 spins with a mix of 10-12 rays.

Female Gag Groupers are normally pale or medium grey in color. Their bodies have a more marbled appearance due to the wavy patterns covering their bodies. But the best way to tell a female and a male apart is through the dorsal fin. Unlike female Gag Groupers, a male Gag Grouper’s dorsal fin is reticulated. Color-wise however, they are also darker than female Gag Groupers. Their bellies and breast are usually dark gray, almost black.  


Gag Grouper Diet and Size

Depending on their size, a Gag Grouper’s diet changes. Though, Gag Groupers are seen to prefer a variety of crustaceans such as crab and shrimp. They do like some fish and sometimes, an occasional squid.

An average Gag Grouper is 20 inches (50 cm) long. However, some have reported seeing a Gag Grouper reach 145 cm (57 inches) in length and weigh 36.5 kg (80 lbs).


Interesting Facts about the Gag Grouper

  • Gag Groupers, when they mature, change sex from female to male.
    • When they’re young, all Gag Groupers start out as females.
    • However, Gag Groupers are more commonly female.
  • Gag Groupers grow slowly. It usually takes them5-6 years to sexually mature.
  • Juvenile Gag Groupers have a different habitat preference to adult Gag Groupers.
  • Its scientific name microlepis means small scales in Latin.
  • Gag Groupers can live up to 30 years.
  • Red Tide can heavily affect Gag Grouper populations.


Gag Grouper – Fishing Techniques: How to Fish for a Gag Grouper

The first thing to look for is a place that can serve as she