Charleston pitmaster, food trendsetter and chef Jim Lasher recently celebrated a catch that landed him a new record. The record came in the form of a 54 pound, 4 ounce Gag Grouper, the biggest ever caught in the state. The monster was caught just 40 miles off Charleston on the 1st of May, at a depth of 160 feet.
It wasn’t long before Lasher took the fish to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, where it was confirmed the record. The previous record, earned in 2013, was set at 48 pounds, 8 ounces, which was actually two fish caught at the same time that were almost identical, including their weight.
Some Facts About Groupers
Groupers are fairly common fish, and are most often brownish-grey in colour, with dark, rounded markings found all over their bodies. They weigh in, on average, at around 25 pounds, while the larger ones tend to be closer to 50 pounds. They can measure up to 36 inches in length, but it varies greatly depending on the individual fish.
They are most often found around coastal waters, commonly close to natural structures, such as rock formations and reefs. They’ve been known to hang around drop-offs in water that more than 60 feet deep, although some have been found much deeper, such as Lasher’s catch. The juveniles tend to be found in sea grass beds and estuaries.
They’re one of the few animals on earth that are all born female but can change to males later on in life. This can depend on the breeding environment at the time, and if more males are needed in order to better achieve survival. Their diet mainly consists of other fish and invertebrates.
They make excellent seafood, and are a popular choice for many diner style and barbeque dishes around South Carolina. Heavy tackle is used to pull them from the ocean, as they are strong swimmers and their strong jaws can cut through line fairly easily.
Lasher’s Dinner Plans
Captain Ben Floyd led the team out on the water that day, as the captain and Lasher liked to go fishing together. “He’s a buddy of mine,” said Lasher. The boat they went out on, ‘Renegade’, is a 27-footer that is usually docked at Palms Marina
Although the day had been going well in general, Lasher kept insisting that they go out looking for Grouper. “I was a little more insistent than anyone else,” he stated, “I stayed in Captain Ben’s ear most of the day.” Once something finally took the line, Lasher hoped it would was going to be big. “We knew it was a big grouper or a big snapper.”
After catching the Grouper, and once it had been officially recorded by the Department of Natural Resources, it didn’t take long for the fish to be cooked up by the happy chef.
The size of the grouper most likely won’t be beaten for a long while, and its record will most likely be celebrated across the state, finding its way into everything from research books to online pokies.
The fishy tale was concluded by Floyd taking the Grouper home and butchering it, and he managed to get 30 pounds of meat off of the gigantic fish, some of which Lasher used to make fish tacos.