It was the high end of a moving tide on May 7, 2022 and IGFA President Roy Cronacher was working an 8oz yellow jig with whole live bait in 250ft of water off the coast of Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco Out Islands of the Bahamas. .
“At this time of year, we know the big groupers are going to be there for about 30 days or so every spring,” says the widely-traveling fisherman. “I don’t know why they are there, but they are. I used to spearfish the area years ago, and the grouper didn’t show up until May.
Cronacher was jigging the lure high in 10-15 foot jumps, when he felt a solid strike.
“Most fish hit right after the lure was lifted, and that’s when the lure hit,” he said.
With a classy 20-pound line on a conventional Shimano reel and a Biscayne rod, Cronacher, 73, fought fish for 23 minutes. Then he lured the oversized black grouper to the boat – “Empty Pockets” – where crew members Andy Ford and Don McIntosh muscled the fish into the 39ft SeaVee center console.
They traveled to Manjack Cay to officially weigh the fish on IGFA certified scales. He weighed 41 pounds and 13 ounces.
Cronacher’s fish has now been officially accepted as the new IGFA World Record 20lb Line Class for Black Grouper. His fish surpasses the previous 20-pound line catch record of an 18-pound black grouper caught off Key West in December 2009 by angler Ronald Glinski.
Not one to rest on his laurels, and knowing the grouper was still in the Abacos, Cronacher was back on May 30, deep jigging again, this time from his own boat “Gladiator”. He was accompanied by the same crew as Ford and McIntosh, but on a 49-foot Rybovich.
He was using an 8 pound test line with a lift and drop action on a heavy yellow jig with whole live bait. Once again, Cronacher made landfall hooking, boating and weighing a 37-pound, 9-ounce IGFA line-class world record black grouper 8-pounder. Cronacher’s fish broke the previous 8-pound test black grouper record of just 2 pounds, 8 ounces caught near Marathon in the Florida Keys in November 2009 by angler Martin Arostegui.
“We’re going back next spring and trying to set another black grouper world record for the 6-pound test line,” says Cronacher, who lives in Naples, Florida. “We know the fish are there in the Bahamas at this time of year, and I think we’ll get there.”
The current record-breaking black grouper in the 6-pound line class is a 6-pound, 8-ounce fish, caught in April 2010 in Marathon, Florida, also by angler Martin Arostegui.