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AKA: Common grunt, redmouth, ruby red lips

Description: The white grunt’s body is silver-gray with numerous blue and yellow stripes on the head and body. On some, the scales appear tipped with bronze. The pectoral fins are chalky and the other fins are gray. The lining of the body cavity is black. The interior of the mouth is bright red. The white grunt produces an audible grunting sound.

Size: White grunt grow to 25 inches and 8 pounds, but most catches are around 15 inches and 1.5 pounds.

Sometimes confused with: other grunts

Habitat: White grunts inhabit irregular bottom areas of the continental shelf from Virginia to Brazil, including Bermuda, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. White grunts are commonly found from the shoreline to the outer reef edge to depths of 80 feet and offshore over hard bottoms to depths of 115 feet. The adults form schools with other species of fish over coral reefs or sandy bottoms. Juvenile white grunts reside inshore in seagrass beds.

Eating habits: White grunts are carnivores that feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates. At night they migrate off the reefs to open, sandy, muddy or grassy areas to feed, typically moving off the reef shortly after sunset and returning to the reef just before sunrise.

Life cycle: White grunts reach sexual maturity during their third year, or at about 8 inches long. Spawning occurs in the late spring and summer on offshore hard bottoms or reefs.

Fishing tips: Anglers usually do not target white grunts, but they catch them incidentally while fishing for porgy, triggerfish, groupers and snappers. Sport fishermen on charter boats and head boats use manual and electric-powered reels to catch white grunts over natural and artificial reefs.

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

No award given for this species.


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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