GAG GROUPER (Family Serranidae, SEA BASSES AND GROUPER Mycteroperca microlepis)
Description: brownish gray in color with dark worm-like markings on sides; Strong serrated spur at bottom margin of preopercle, less noticeable in large specimens; fins dark, with anal and caudal having white margin. Often confused with black grouper; tail of gag is slightly concave, black is square; gag has white margin on anal and caudal fins, black does not; under 10 pounds, gag’s spur on preopercle is distinctive, where black is gently rounded.
Similar Fish: black grouper M. bonaci.
Where found: adults OFFSHORE over rocks and reefs; juveniles occur in seagrass beds INSHORE.
Size: common to 25 pounds.
Remarks: forms spawning aggregations in water no shallower than 120 feet in middle Grounds area, January through March; current research to identify similar aggregations off Atlantic coast is ongoing. Young gags are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; feeds