The gag grouper is one of the most widely fished grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. These fish are caught in many different ways including flat lines and trolling but are caught mostly bottom fishing. These fish are extremely hard fighters when just hooked until after you turn them away from their rocky homes. With these fish, heavy lines and poles are a must as they will get you wrapped up in the rocks every time if they are descent in size.
Since they are so popular among so many fishermen there is now a very strict regulated season on them. As of right now, the season doesn’t open up until July 1st.
My favorite story regarding gag grouper is as I said all their fight is early and most of time you cannot use drag as the fish will make it back to their home in the rocks. One day we were about 15 miles off shore and we were catching some descent size gags and one of the guys poles started to bend. After fishing all these years you can tell fairly quickly if it is fish or bottom. After a few seconds I knew it was bottom and told him that. He insisted it was a fish. I tried a couple of times to convince him it was bottom. After about 5 minutes I gave up.
He proceeded to fight the bottom for 45 minutes before his line finally broke. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen as a captain. When we got back to the dock he started telling his wife he didn’t catch as many as his friends because he spent a long time fighting a huge fish! He looked at me and said,” Well, tell her!” All I could say with a big ol’ country boy grin, “Yep, it was big alright!”