Near target levels and fishing rate promotes population growth in the South Atlantic. The Gulf of Mexico gag population declined for several years beginning in 2005, possibly due to a major “red tide” event (an algal bloom that releases potent neurotoxin).
Managers implemented a number of measures to rebuild the stock, and it was declared rebuilt in 2014. Smaller fish are much lighter and have dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along their sides.
They spawn from mid-January to early May in the South Atlantic and from late January to mid-April in the Gulf of Mexico. Commercial fishermen must have a limited access permit to fish, land, or sell snapper and grouper species.
A number of gear requirements and restrictions help reduce by catch and protect habitat. In the Gulf of Mexico, managed under the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan : Annual catch limit allocated between the commercial (39 percent) and recreational (61 percent) fisheries.
Restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish, to reduce by catch and protect spawning groups. Area closures for both commercial and recreational fisheries to protect spawning groupers.
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.
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 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. 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 Grouper and Black Grouper season opens from the Keys to Duval County (Jacksonville area). The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate.
Sight casting opportunities for trout, redfish and black drum are tricky. Conditions through the next few days suggest this technique will work the best early in the morning before the winds come up.
The most important part of grouper fishing is getting those first few cranks on the reel when the strike comes to keep it out of its hole. The pompano run may well be in the rearview mirror, but there is still plenty of fun to be had at the beach.
Big jacks up to 30 pounds can be caught by surf casters heaving large top water plugs and spoons. Fish in the 2-3-pound range are lying in ambush anywhere seagrass can be found, sitting on the end of points around mangrove shorelines and even along seawalls where shook, jacks and flounder can also be caught.
At first light, toss hard top water plugs like Mirrors, Papal Skitter walks or X-Raps. The reef just off the North Jetty at Sebastian Inlet State Park where the shook always stage has been a good place to catch and release an overshot.
Bluegill fishing is picking up in area ponds, lakes and parts of the St. Johns River. Captain Tony Price spent a day on the water with his two boys Trey and Zack, and they teamed up on a couple big gag grouper.
A day or two after a front moves past, the wind settles down allowing for offshore fishing. Gaggrouperseason closes at the end of the month, time is running out to invite one home for dinner.
Closer to the coast, over depths from 25 to 45 feet, anglers report a mixed catch of sleepyheads, snapper, grunts, flounder, Spanish mackerel, blue runners, and the previously mentioned grouper. Anglers found sleepyheads in south Malacca Pass around deep oyster bars and creeks, under docks around St. James, Tarpon Bay on Daniel, Captive’s Roosevelt Channel, and around north Captive and Mayo Costa State Park.
Anglers are reporting scattered redfish in Malacca Pass and Pine Island Sound. Many of the fish are on the small side known as “rat reds” averaging from fourteen to seventeen inches.
In Malacca Pass reds were caught under the mangroves in the washouts of some deeper creeks and around the perimeter of oyster bars. In the Sound, potholes, deep mangrove shorelines, and creek mouths from Blind Pass down to Tarpon Bay on Daniel.
For baits, a live shrimp fished under a popping cork, free lined, or on bottom with a small split-shot sinker was hard to beat. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevasse, sea trout, and possibly sharks are often with the ladies.
In gulf waters, birds could indicate Spanish and king mackerel, bonito, jack crevasse, sharks, and others. Over the past several weeks large blacktop and spinner sharks were common around feeding activity and artificial reefs.
I hope during the holiday week good weather allows everyone a chance to get on the water and enjoy or outdoors. If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-410-8576 (call or text); on the web at www.fishpineisland.com; or via email at email@example.com.
Gag grouper will close to recreational harvest in Gulf state and federal waters Jan. 1, 2021. 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, the grouper closure ends April 30, and harvest will reopen May 1.
NOAA Fisheries announced a final rule establishing the 2013 gag recreational fishing season that opens on July 1 and closes on December 3, 2013. The rule also limits the geographical extent of the February 1 through March 31 shallow-water grouper closure to waters seaward of a line approximating 20 fathoms.
The rule restricts the geographical extent of the fixed February 1 through March 31 shallow-water grouper closed season to apply only to waters seaward of the 20-fathom boundary. This allows grouper fishing to occur year-round while providing some protection to species that spawn during February and March.
Logo provided by FCC. State waters off the coast of Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson, and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1, 2015. In the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters, anglers will be able to keep gag grouper from July 1, through Dec. 3, with the season closing Dec. 4.
The season in all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico also opens July 1, but closes Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2. More Stories Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham killed in plane crash Marion County -- Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham died in a Sunday morning plane crash.