WARSAW GROUPER (Epinephelus nigritus) OTHER NAMES: Giant Grouper, Black Jewfish, Garrupa Negrita
RANGE: All Florida coasts, Atlantic and Gulf, but not reported from the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Very deep dropoffs, ledges and seamounts. Seldom encountered in less than 200 feet, and most common in much deeper water. Partyboats working offshore waters of the state’s upper half both Gulf and Atlantic seem to bring in Warsaws more often than elsewhere.
DESCRIPTION: Mottled dark brown, shading to slightly lighter brown on lower portions. Tail square and yellowish. Second dorsal spine is elongated and crest-like.
SIZE: This is the second-largest Grouper, commonly caught at 30-80 pounds, with 100-pounders not rare. Probably grows to more than 500. World and Florida records 436 pounds, 12 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Good. Large specimens (which most are) can be somewhat coarse unless the fillets are cut into thin steaks for frying or baking. GAME QUALITIES: Great strength is the hallmark of the Warsaw’s fighting arsenal, and the angler who gets one on a manual rod and reel will know he’s been in a tug-of-war
TACKLE AND BAITS: Only the heaviest rods, large reels and lines testing 80 pounds or more are really adequate. Catches on lighter tackle are opportunistic and rare, and usually of the smaller specimens. Fairly large whole fish, or halved bonito and other hefty cut baits are all productive whenever they can be dropped to within gulping range of a Warsaw. Grouper Combo Guide
FISHING SYSTEMS: Drifting; Still Fishing.