Yellowmouth Grouper

Yellowmouth Grouper

Scientific Name

Mycteroperca interstitialis

Stock Status

Overfishing – Unknown

Overfished – Unknown

Stock Assessment


2023 Regulations

Recreational Commercial
Season Open year-round.

If landings reach the stock ACL in a year then during the following year if landings are projected to reach the stock ACL then harvest will be prohibited for the remainder of the fishing year.

Recreational fishing for red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper is closed from February 1- March 31 when fishing beyond the 20 fathom break.

Season Yellowmouth grounper is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. Anyone commercially fishing for yellowmouth grouper must possess allocation and follow established protocols.
Minimum Size Limit none Minimum Size Limit none
Bag Limit 4 per person within the 4-grouper aggregate bag limit which includes gag, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and warsaw. No grouper may be retained by the captain or crew of a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat. Trip Limit none
Permit State issued recreational license/angler registry, federal angler registry or Federal charter/headboat permit for reef fish Permit Commercial vessel permit for reef fish is required. Additionally, an eastern Gulf reef fish bottom longline endorsement required to use bottom longline for Gulf reef fish in the federal waters east of 85°30′ longitude.
Gear Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks. Gear Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks.

Shallow-water Grouper Closure (Map of the 20-fathom break)

Subpart B – Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico – §622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish

(d) Seasonal closure of the recreational sector for shallow-water grouper (SWG). The recreational sector for SWG, in or from the Gulf EEZ, is closed each year from February 1 through March 31, in the portion of the Gulf EEZ seaward of rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points in the following table. During the closure, the bag and possession limit for SWG in or from the Gulf EEZ seaward of the following rhumb lines is zero.

Harvest Limits

 Combined stock ACL black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper – 710,000 pounds
 Combined Commercial ACL for black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper – 547,000 pounds
 Combined Commercial quota for black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper – 525,000 pounds


Yellowmouth grouper is found in the western Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico, south to the Bahamas, Antilles and Brazil.  It is most common off southern Florida.  This fish has a pale tan to brownish body with small scattered, but close-set, brown spots on its back and sides.  Yellowmouth grouper is aptly named as its distinctive feature is the prominent yellow coloration at the corners and inside of the mouth.  The spiny dorsal fin margin is also a yellowish color.  These features can help distinguish the yellowmouth from scamp.  Juveniles are tricolored but become blotchy with age.  The pattern on the body of juveniles mimics that of the juvenile clown wrasse.  Interestingly, the juvenile yellowmouth may mimic juvenile clown wrasse behavior in order to approach unsuspecting prey.1

Maximum observed age:  28 years (Gulf of Mexico)2; 41 years (Trinidad and Tobago)2

Age at maturity:  3 years3

Maximum weight:  22.49 pounds (10.20 kilograms)4

Maximum length:  33.07 inches (84 centimeters)5

Life History and Distribution

Within its range, yellowmouth grouper prefers coral reefs and rocky bottoms up to approximately 490 feet (149 meters). Not much is known about its reproductive behavior or spawning aggregations. This species of grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite: fish are born as females and transition to males at some point in their adult life. In the Gulf of Mexico, yellowmouth grouper appears to spawn year-round with peak spawning in April and May.


  1. Sazima, I., 2002. Juvenile snooks (Centropomidae) as mimics of mojarras (Gerreidae), with a review of aggressive mimicry in fishes. Environ. Biol. Fish. 65(1):37-45.
  2. SEDAR 49. 2016. Gulf of Mexico Data-limited Species: Red Drum, Lane Snapper, Wenchman, Yellowmouth Grouper, Speckled Hind, Snowy Grouper, Almaco Jack, Lesser Amberjack.
  3. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.    Farmer, N.A., Malinowski, R.P., McGovern, M.F. and Rubec, P.J. (2016), Stock Complexes for Fisheries Management in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 8: 177-201. doi:10.1080/19425120.2015.1024359
  4. IGFA All Tackle Record, South Carolina
  5. Kobara, S., B. Erisman, W. Heyman, C. Biggs, N. Farmer, S. Lowerre-Barbieri, M. Karnauskas, and J. Brenner. 2017. Cooperative monitoring program for spawning aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico: data portal. Version 1.0 GCOOS, USA.