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Home / Fishing / Fish Species

FISHING
FISH SPECIES

Grunts

TheOutdoorLodge.Com is happy to partner with the leading fishing forum online, BigFishTackle.Com. To find out answers to all your "grunt fishing" questions please drop by the fishing forums at bigfishtackle.com (http://www.bigfishtackle.com/forum/). With over 100,000 members their fishing forum can answer just about any fishing question you may have. Friendly, helpful and informative anglers really make you feel like part of their online fishing community!

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THE GRUNTS

Grunts are primarily tropical family of fishes, various types of which are familiar to skindivers who explore coral reefs. Several of the many species, however, enjoy a much wider habitat, ranging well into temperate waters and so becoming available to North Floridians as well as to those who fish South Florida and the Bahamas. Although not considered great sport fish, Grunts are fun to catch and make fine table fare, ranking among the favorites of many old-timers and often providing a good fish dinner when Snapper and Grouper are uncooperative. Of numerous species that inhabit our waters, the following are the ones that are large enough to be of any interest to sport fishermen.

Back To The Fish Species Directory Index

Fish Species brought to you in association with Wickstrom Publishers Inc.
Excerpts from the book Sport Fish of Florida a must for every tackle box and boat in and around Florida waters!!! Get your copy now!! Other great titles include Baits, Rigs & Tackle!

PIGFISH (Orthopristis chrysoptera)

Pigfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Grunt, Orange Grunt, Piggy
RANGE: All Florida coasts and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Unlike most Grunts, the Pigfish doesn't mind murky water or soft bottom, and makes itself at home in a variety of shallow-water habitats throughout the state. Although most are taken over grassy flats, they are also plentiful around bars and along channel edges.
DESCRIPTION: Light brown or gray, with numerous small orange and blue markings and a small mouth.
SIZE: Common between 3 and 6 inches; may reach 10 or 12 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Larger ones make tasty panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Pretty good puller, if hooked on light gear.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Small Pigfish are preferred live baits for Seatrout and other species - the thought being that their grunting attracts the predators from a goodly distance away. If you're seeking Pigfish for bait, use canepole or light spinning gear with small hooks and bits of cut bait or shrimp. Most Pigfish are caught, however, on tackle used for Seatrout on the grass flats. They are also popular potluck catches from docks and bridges, especially on the Gulf Coast. They will take shrimp, of course, and just about any size strip bait. They may hit jigs and small plugs.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

White Grunt (Haemulon plumieri)

White Grunt - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Gray Grunt, Key West Grunt, Ronco Arara
RANGE: All Florida coasts and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Not choosy; inshore to deep sea.
DESCRIPTION: Usually from light gray, almost white, to dark gray. Many small blue and yellow lines on head.
SIZE: Averages 8-10 inches; not too uncommon at 12 inches or slightly larger, especially in deeper waters of the Gulf. Word record 6 pounds, 8 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Very good, especially as part of the historic Florida dish, "Grits and Grunts." Usually served whole as panfish, but many Grunts are large enough to provide small fillets.
GAME QUALITIES: Strong if hooked on light tackle.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning and plug casting outfits and light saltwater gear. Grunt fishermen usually choose cut baits, but the White Grunt also bites willingly on small jigs.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

MARGATE (Haemulon album)

Margate - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: White Margate, Margate Grunt, Ronco Blanco
RANGE: Rather plentiful in the Bahamas; occurs in Florida but is seenless often.
HABITAT: Off Florida, deeper reef waters 50-150 feet turn up most Margates, but they roam into the shallows in many areas of the Bahamas.
DESCRIPTION: Similar in shape to the White Grunt but color is solid white or pearly, with darker fins. The Sailors Choice, Haemulon parra, is a similar though smaller Grunt, distinguished by scaled pectoral fins. Note, however, that in Florida, the name Sailors Choice is more widely used for the Pinfish (see page 97).
SIZE: This is the largest of the Grunts, frequently running to 4 or 5 pounds, and reaching at least 12 pounds. World record 5 pounds, 12 ounces; Florida record 11 pounds, 4 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Good, may have a strong odor or taste, which can be eliminated by freezing for a few days or by soaking in lightly salted water.
GAME QUALITIES: Very good. Fights much like a snapper of equivalent size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Difficult to target, most are caught on cut baits by bottom fishermen using fairly heavy ocean tackle, but some fall to deep jiggers using stout spinning and plug outfits. They will hit heavy jigs, especially if tipped with a plastic worm.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

BLUESTRIPED GRUNT (Haemulon sciurus)

Bluestriped Grunt - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Blue Grunt, Yellow Grunt, Ronco Amarillo
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs; inshore patches and channels.
DESCRIPTION: Yellow body marked by numerous longitudinal blue stripes. Inside of mouth is red. Dark tail and dorsal fin.
SIZE: Averages 1-6 pounds; not uncommon at 12-15 pounds; grows to about 20 pounds. World record 19 pounds, 7 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Very good.
GAME QUALITIES: A strong fighter on light gear.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning and baitcasting outfits. Live or dead shrimp and cut bait. Also hits small lures.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

FRENCH GRUNT (Haemulon flavolineatum)

French Grunt - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Yellow Grunt, Corocoro, Ronco Contenado
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs; inshore patches and channels.
DESCRIPTION: Gray or white with numerous yellow stripes. Inside of mouth is red.
SIZE: Averages 6-8 inches; may rarely reach 12 inches.
FOOD VALUE: Very good.
GAME QUALITIES: Fun on very light gear.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning and baitcasting tackle; shrimp and cut baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

TOMTATE (Haemulon aurolineatum)

Tomtate - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Brown Grunt, Jeniguano, Cuji
RANGE: Most of Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Inshore patches and offshore reefs of South Florida and the Bahamas; mostly offshore farther north.
DESCRIPTION: White or silvery with a prominent brown or yellow stripe running from gill to tail. Thinner stripes may also be present.
SIZE: Usually about 6 inches; seldom larger.
FOOD VALUE: Small, but a good panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Not big enough to do much.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Lightest spinning tackle; pieces of shrimp and cut fish or squid.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

BLACK MARGATE (Anisotremus surinamensis)

Black Margate - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Black Bream, Surf Bream, Pompon
RANGE: Both coasts of Florida, but more common on Atlantic side. Also in the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Ranges widely, from near shore to outer reefs. Many are caught from surf in areas of groins or other rocky bottom.
DESCRIPTION: Although a member of the Grunt family, the Black Margate superficially appears more closely allied to the Croakers or Drums. The body is deep, the dorsal spines heavy and the lips thick. Sides are dingy white, with a prominent black band or saddle around the body. The fins are dark gray or black.
SIZE: Another large Grunt, this one often reaches 3 or 4 pounds and may top 10. World and Florida records 12 pounds, 12 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Good.
GAME QUALITIES: Exhibits good strength and stamina on light gear.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and surf tackle. Light classes of ocean tackle. Shrimp and clams are excellent baits, but cut fish works well too. Rarely takes artificial.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.

PORK FISH (Anisotremus virginicus)

Pork Fish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Harlequin Grunt, Sisi, Catalineta
RANGE: South Florida and the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Coral reefs and inshore patches.
DESCRIPTION: Deep body shape is similar to that of the Black Margate. Thick lips. One of the brightest of the Grunts. Gold or silvery sheen with two vertical black bars, one through the head and another running from the dorsal to the pectoral fin. Longitudinal bronze and blue stripes.
SIZE: Averages 8-10 inches; reaches 14 inches or more.
FOOD VALUE: Good.
GAME QUALITIES: Tough battler for its size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light, spinning and baitcasting outfits; shrimp and cut baits.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.

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