Some grouper species prefer to ambush prey, while others are active predators.
Groupers, known as cabrilla or mero in Latin America, are a large group of bottom-dwelling species that can vary considerably in distribution, size and appearance, but typically have a large mouth and stout body built for power rather than fast or long-distance swimming. Most settle in reefs, wrecks, rock outcroppings or around other bottom structure, which offers shelter from predators and attracts potential prey.
While groupers don’t have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, they are endowed with heavy crushing tooth plates inside their pharynx, and their mouths and gills create powerful suction that enables them to slurp their prey and swallow it whole. Some grouper species prefer to ambush prey, while others are active predators. Their forage includes a wide range of small fish and crustaceans, including crabs, shrimps and lobsters, plus octopuses and squid, and some larger specimens exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.
IGFA recognizes 59 grouper species, some 20 of which are consistently accessible to anglers fishing the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the U.S. and neighboring waters, like the Caribbean. The more popular groupers include black, gag, red (AKA red hind), Warsaw, snowy, strawberry, Nassau, yellowfin, broomtail, and goliath, the largest of them all, capable of growing to 600 pounds.