2021 Florida Gulf Grouper Season

Elaine Sutton
• Wednesday, 22 September, 2021
• 7 min read

The FCC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) manages the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean differently, and it’s important to know what’s in season and what you can harvest from each shoreline. The Gulf of Mexico is a unique body of water that provides commercial and recreational anglers plenty of fishing opportunities.

gag grouper fishing gulf season waters federal state mexico open recreational map regulations saltwater ocala june most across soon opens
(Source: www.ocalapost.com)


The Gulf covers most of Florida ’s west coast, from Pensacola in the Panhandle to the start of the Everglades at the tip of the peninsula. This is important to keep in mind as there are different regulations for what’s in season and what you can harvest depending on if you’re in state or federal waters.

For Gag Grouper fishing in the Gulf, it’s important to note what county you’re embarking from. For counties of Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson (in the Panhandle area from Apalachicola to Steinhatchee) there is open season in state waters from April 1 to June 30, and again from September 1 to December 31.

Black, Red, Scamp, Yellow fin and Yellow mouth Grouper all have similar regulations in the Gulf. It’s open season in both state and federal waters for Rock Hind, Coney, Yellow edge and Snowy Groupers.

You can ask your charter captain if the size you have is a keeper or not; or refer to the FCC regulations to make sure you’re staying compliant. Now moving east to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean where there are excellent opportunities for grouper fishing.

Keep in mind, the FCC considers the Everglades and Florida Keys as part of the Atlantic Ocean waters, and all fishing done in these areas must stay within Atlantic-specific regulations. From the Florida Keys to Jacksonville, anglers have hundreds of cities to choose from to launch your grouper expedition.

grouper florida season fishing coast
(Source: www.fishanywhere.com)

The real question is, what subspecies of grouper you’ll find at the end of your line. East Coast anglers should mark your calendars for May 1, this is when Gag Grouper and Black Grouper season opens from the Keys to Duval County (Jacksonville area).

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council would like to gain a better understanding of what’s happening on the water. All anglers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation.

Those with a Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation will meet the statewide requirement until the Gulf designation expires, even if you are fishing on the Atlantic coast. Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles.

Atlantic state waters are from shore to 3 nautical miles. Participation mandatory to fish for grouper in Florida waters.

Expand All | Collapse All 1 gag or black within the 3 grouper aggregate Note: In the Atlantic reef fish fishery, gear rules require hooking tools, and as of Jan. 1, 2021, non-stainless steel hooks in all state waters, and non-offset circle hooks N. of 28 ° N. latitude.

grouper season mystic cassie caught forecast fishing weekly delaney 50lb took opening level another she
(Source: spacefishreport.com)

Several species of Gulf grouper (red, black, scamp, yellow fin and yellow mouth) are closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom break. Recreational anglers are encouraged to use electronic charting equipment to plot the 20-fathom break by entering the established coordinates listed on the map below into a route.

Monroe County: Several species of Atlantic grouper (red, black, yellow fin, yellow mouth, scamp, rock hind, red hind, Coney and grays by) are closed Jan. 1 – April 30 in all state and federal waters of the Atlantic including all state waters off Monroe County (Atlantic and Gulf sides). During this closure, anglers can harvest grouper in open federal waters of the Gulf and return to port in Monroe County by traveling through closed state waters of the Atlantic as long as the vessel proceeds directly to port without stopping to fish.

Western boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region. Eastern boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region.

This big gag was caught on a recent 39-hour trip aboard a party boat out of Hubbard’s Marina. The gag grouper recreational season in Gulf state waters off Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open for harvest Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

The 2020Gulf Recreational Red Snapper season started June 11th and ends July 25th. Important note, rules and regulations are known to change so always check with the FCC at myfwc.com before you keep any Gulf fish.

fishing gulf season grouper seasons coast huntress charter fish
(Source: www.danielheard.com)

Sometimes, fish is improperly frozen or is pushed to the back of the freezer only to be found a year later. Keep as much as you think you can use, or bring it to one of our many harbor-front restaurants that will cook your catch, including Brother's Seafood & Steamer.

A good rule of thumb I use is that an average 20-inch red snapper weighs about 4 pounds and will yield about 40 ounces of clean table-ready fish. Your captain will assume they should keep every (fish) you pull up, but you'll be ready to surprise them with your thoughtful and responsible approach.

View the recently listed properties, including Gulf -front condos and vacation homes in Destiny, Florida. Contact him via email at for more insight into fishing and real estate along Florida's Emerald Coast.

Photo taken on an FCC tagging day, off the coast of Panama City. Anglers will be excited to learn the 2020Gulf red snapper season starts Thursday in Florida. For-hire operation red snapper fishing began June 1 and runs until Aug. 1 this year.

“The process is easy, no-cost and will help the FCC paint a clearer picture of how many people are targeting reef fish like red snapper and gag and what they are seeing and harvesting on the water.” Fishing for red snapper in state waters, which is 3 nautical miles from shore, is open year-round, according to FCC.

grouper florida gulf season opens fl southwest patch pinellas hind yellowmouth yellowfin springtime must open rock
(Source: patch.com)

It's May 1 already, thankfully, and that means recreational anglers can once again harvest the shallow water grouper species and dogfish, too. Power drifting with big jigs tipped with cut grunt will be a good way to get a bite.

Inshore: Trout fishing has been pretty steady on the flats around Vero Beach, south of Wabash Causeway and around the spoil islands near Sebastian. Use cut grunts or large chunk baits on heavy sinkers, enough weight to get through the current.

Red grouper are found in shallower water on the deep wrecks and artificial reefs. A good spot to try would be the CCA Curtis Stick Artificial Reef in 100 feet of water 12 miles southeast of the Fort Pierce Inlet.

Start off with top water lures for those early ambush strikes then switch to soft-sided jigs and jerk baits. Jacks and lady fish are roaming the lagoon in schools for fast action on light fishing tackle.

Offshore: The deep artificial reefs such as the Windstorm and Hailey Glared are prime spots to start the search for grouper. Live bait boats at Manatee Pocket have been supplying pilchards and thread fins so grab a few.

grouper west season coast again start june channel florida
(Source: southfloridafishingchannel.com)

Bass anglers are still finding good fishing around Harvey Pond Canal, the Monkey Box, Horse Island and Observation Shoal. A little rain is welcome as the level of the lake continues to be on the low side since it is still being used as a source of irrigation for the AG lands surrounding it.

Gag grouper will close to recreational harvest in Gulf state and federal waters Jan. 1, 2020. This Atlantic seasonal closure includes gag, black, red, yellow mouth, and yellow fin grouper ; scamp; red hind; rock hind; Coney; and grays by.

For gag grouper, state waters off Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson counties will reopen to harvest April 1 through June 30 and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. In the Atlantic and state waters of Monroe County, several species of grouper, including gag, will reopen May 1.

Tomorrow brings the start of the annual grouper closure in state Gulf waters for Florida anglers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises anglers that regulations prohibit the recreational harvest of all shallow water groupers, gag, black, red, yellow fin, scamp, yellow mouth, rock hind, and red hind from Feb. 1 through March 31 in all Gulf of Mexico waters off Florida, except in all waters of Monroe County.

Sport fishing specifically for gag grouper has been closed in Federal waters beyond the nine nautical mile limit since January 1. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises anglers that the recreational harvest of all shallow-water groupers (gag, black, red, yellow fin, scamp, yellow mouth, rock hind and red hind) is prohibited from Feb. 1 through March 31 in all Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters off Florida, except in all waters of Monroe County.

grouper season forecast weekly fired coinciding caught opening weather monster above 1st weekend some
(Source: spacefishreport.com)

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1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_goliath_grouper
2 www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu - https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/epinephelus-itajara/
3 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/goliath/