SPECKLED HIND (Epinephelus drummondhayi) OTHER NAMES: Kitty Mitchell, Calico Grouper
RANGE: Both coasts of Florida, but most often caught in the KeysÐand this is probably because of heavy fishing around well-known seamounts or “humps,” particularly off the Keys towns of Marathon and Islamorada.
HABITAT: An occasional small specimen is caught by bottom-fishing in perhaps 200 feet of water in the Keys, but most stick to ledges and outcroppings at least 300 feet down. They are probably plentiful in much deeper water.
DESCRIPTION: Generally dark gray or reddish brown, with a profusion of small, creamy or white spots on sides, gill covers and fins. Sometimes light tan or yellow with whiter spots.
SIZE: Can run to 40 pounds or more; most catches range from 5 to 20 pounds. World record 52 pounds, 8 ounces; Florida record 42 pounds, 6 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: This and other deepwater species that follow are considered even better table fare than shallow-water species. The same is true of deep-sea Snappers and Porgies. It is theorized that the great pressures under which they live helps make the flesh more succulent.
GAME QUALITIES: Seldom caught on sporting gear, but when they areÐespecially if that gear is a reasonably light outfit, the fight begins strong but diminishes fast as the fish is brought higher in the water column. This, of course, is typical with any sort of Grouper that is hooked at depth. Somewhere along the way, the pressure changes enough to send them bobbing upward.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Electric reels and wire line. Catches on sporting tackle are seldom made by design. Any kind of cut bait seems to work well. Grouper Combo Guide
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.