Identification & Biology: color light gray or brown; large adults with elongated caudal-fin rays; reddish brown spots on sides that tend to be grouped into lines; some yellow around corners of mouth.Related to the gag and other slender-bodied groupers, the scamp are identified by their pronounced anal and soft dorsal ray extensions, a more concave profile of the head, and by color. Scamp have a tan to grayish-brown body covered with sharply defined, well-separated dark spots, which are approximately an eighth of an inch in diameter.Scamp are sexually mature at the age of 3 years, or those larger than 16 inches. In offshore waters from April to May, scamp spawn thousands of pelagic eggs. They have been recorded at age up to 21 years, but may live up to 30 years. Scamp can be aggressive predators, capturing crabs, shrimp, and fishes and swallowing them whole.
Range & Habitat: nearshore reefs off the northeastern coast, and on offshore reefs in the Gulf. The Scamp inhabits continental shelf waters from the Campeche Banks, in the Gulf of Mexico, to Florida and northward along the East Coast to North Carolina.
Although the species occasionally congregates over high-profile bottom, such as wrecks and rock outcroppings, the preferred habitat is low-profile, live bottom areas in waters 75-300 feet deep. These areas are characterized by profuse growths of soft corals and sponges populated by red grouper, white grunt, red porgy and numerous species of small, tropical reef fish.
Market Description: generally smaller than gags or blacks. They may reach a length of up to 43 inches and weight of up to 36 pounds. There is no doubt that the Scamp is one of the most esteemed food fishes of the Gulf. It is reputed to be the best table fare in the grouper family, which is a family renowned for its eating qualities. It has a smaller head and therefore a better yield than most groupers and is the highest priced grouper. Scamp is a very mild white fish. The flesh is firm and sweet with a limited bloodline. It is the most versatile in its class due to a high moisture and oil content, and denseness of flake.
Flavor Profile: Firm texture, large flake, distinct mild flavor
Fishing Technique: Hook & line, long line
Special Note: Tail, dorsal, pectoral fins elongated to a point
Suitable Sub: Gag grouper, black grouper