Groupers are most renowned for having excellent food value and flavor. There are more than 400 different species but the most popular in Florida are the Red, Black, and Gag groupers. You are always likely to find red grouper on the menu of seafood restaurants and sold at seafood markets.
Meanwhile, the scamp grouper is considered to be the best-tasting among all groupers. It is not as popular as the red grouper, but it is prized for its taste and known to be one of the most esteemed fish found in the Gulf. This fish matures at about 2 years and can live up to 31 years.
There’s not much difference between the two but red groupers are more popular and most harvested. Both groupers are open year-round and managed under the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. Annual harvest limits apply to both.
What is Scamp Grouper?
The scamp grouper is among Florida’s most iconic fish species. It might be tricky to identify a scamp grouper but it’s usually the one with grayish-brown color and has a few clustered darker spots on the skin. You’ll find that this fish looks just like a yellowmouth grouper, but it has a more raggedy appearance compared to others.
Generally smaller than a black or gag grouper, the scamp grouper is known as the best among the family when it comes to taste and flavor. The average size of this fish is just under 2 feet and usually weighs around 5 pounds.
You will usually find scamps in North Carolina and South America as well as in the Caribbean and the Guld of Mexico. Some scamps have been found in Massachusetts. Between January to June, with peaks from March to April, is the spawning season of scamp grouper. The species prefer deep waters and inhabit rocky bottoms and ledges, but some can be found around jetties and mangroves.
What is Red Grouper?
A red grouper can be identified through the dark reddish-brown color of its skin. There are white spots on its sides and the underbelly is red. The lining of the mouth is scarlet-orange and there are some black dots around the eyes. The large black spot and caudal peduncle of the fish make it look similar to the Nassau grouper.
This grouper type can be found in the coastal waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean, which includes the Gulf of Mexico. This grouper is abundant in the waters of Florida. Red groupers live in inshore waters for about five years from spawning and relocates to hard-bottomed habitats on the edges of the continental shelf.
There is an annual catch limit of 4,160,000 pounds gutted weight for red grouper across both commercial and recreational fishing. The minimum size limit is 18 inches total length for commercial and 20 inches total length for recreational. While there is no trip limit for commercial red grouper fishing, allocation and established protocols must be strictly followed. For recreational fishing, a bag limit of 2 per person is strictly implemented.
All groupers feature lean, moist, firm textures, and distinct but mild flavors. The red grouper has a slightly milder and sweeter flavor compared to other types of groupers. With a diet of mostly small shellfish like shrimp and lobsters, red groupers have a distinctive shellfish taste.
With red grouper’s high moisture and oil content and dense flakes, this fish is very versatile which gives you various culinary options. It’s also easy to prepare. Have your red snapper pan-seared, baked, broiled, or grilled.
The scamp grouper is highly prized and known to be the best tasting among the group, making it a great table fare. It features a mild and distinct flavor comparable to that of a halibut or sea bass. The white meat, sweet taste, and chunky flakes of this fish give it its excellent food value.
The subtle flavor and high moisture content of a scamp grouper offers versatile culinary options. The meat is great for absorbing marinades and dressings. You can grill, pan-fry, or bake this fish and you’ll have a tasty addition to your menu.
What’s the World Record for Scamp Grouper?
The current world record for scamp grouper was caught off the Dauphin Island, Alabama in 2000. It was an all-tackle record and the scamp grouper weighed 29 pounds and 10 ounces. However, that record might have been possibly broken in 2016.
A 9-year-old named Teddy Wingfield caught the largest scamp grouper off the coast of North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries. The fish he caught weighed 32 pounds with a total length of 43 inches.
What’s the World Record for Red Grouper?
The current world record for red grouper is 42 pounds and 4 ounces, according to the International Game Fish Association. It was caught off the coast of St. Augustine in Florida in 1997.