The Gag Fish

The Gag Fish
Difficulty

Period

June to December

Minimum size

50 cm

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The Gag fish belongs to the Serranidae family. The gag fish can reach a maximum total length of 1.45 m and a maximum weight of 36.5 kg. This species has a life span of 16 years. They breed from January to May. They can be fished from June to December.
The gag fish is typical of groupers with an elongated oblong body. The head is long while the mouth is large with a protruding lower jaw. The bases of the dorsal and anal fins are covered with thick skin and scales. The caudal fin is wide and has a slightly concave margin. The body color of the gag fish depends on the sex and age of the fish. Juveniles and mature females are pale grey to greyish brown with dark spots and worm-shaped marks giving a marbled appearance. The caudal, anal and pelvic fins have dark blue outer margins. Large mature males are pale to medium grey in color, with barely visible cross-links below the dorsal fin. The ventral surface is dark grey to black. The soft dorsal fin, caudal fin, pectoral and pelvic fins also range from dark grey to black, while the margins of the anal and caudal fins are white.

The Gag Fish lifestyle

Adult gag fish eat mainly fish, shrimps, crabs and cephalopods, while juveniles less than 20 cm long feed on crustaceans living in shallow beds.
Like other Serranidae, the gag fish is a protogyne hermaphrodite. They start their lives as females. However, after a few years of laying eggs as a female, some gag fish changes sex and becomes functional men. This transition usually occurs between 10 and 11 years, which corresponds to a length of 95 to 100 cm. The fertilized eggs are pelagic and transparent, containing only one oil cell. The eggs hatch after about 45 hours at a water temperature of 21°C.

The Gag Fish habitat

Residing in brackish to marine waters, the gag fish is found offshore on a rocky bottom, as well as coastal on a rocky or grassy bottom at a depth of 152 m.
The gag fish is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, from North Carolina (United States) to the south of the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), off the coasts of Bermuda, Cuba and eastern Brazil.

The Gag Fish angling

It is caught with hook and line. Gag fish can be caught with fresh bait, such as pinfish or mullet. They will also eat squid, octopus and crabs. Live bait is by far the best choice.

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