The Atlantic wreckfish resembles a grouper or bass, and inhabits deep waters of the Eastern Seaboard’s continental shelf, as well as other waters internationally. Though they can be found from the Grand Banks to Argentina, most commercial landings are from the Charleston Bump, located about 90 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The Charlston bump is a series of overhangs, cliffs, dropoffs and caves that allow wreckfish to hide while hunting for fish exploring the dark, cool waters just outside the Gulf Stream. A cloudy, reflective layer behind their eyes allows them to be super-sensitive to light, able to ambush prey who can’t see as well in the depths of dark water (up to 3,300 feet).
The U.S. wreckfish fishery is possibly the most sustainable fishery in the world. There are less than 10 boats with commercial wreckfish licenses, and each boat is issued a specific quota for the entire year. Fisherman are limited to using bandit rigs, which are large hydraulic reels that send a vertical cable line and multiple baited circle hooks nearly 1,500 feet to the bottom. This creates a very selective method of fishing that results in nearly zero environmental impact or bycatch. Wreckfish also have no known predators.
Most wreckfish are between 20 and 60 pounds, but can reach weights of well over 200 pounds. This average large size helps create thick, meaty fillets and impressive portions. The meat of wreckfish is much like grouper -- firm, white, and mild with large flakes. The cold, deep water they live in also imparts a clean, slightly sweet taste to the fillet.