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Are Grouper Legal To Catch

author
Carole Stephens
• Monday, 09 November, 2020
• 11 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.

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Contents

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.

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The real question is, what subspecies of grouper you’ll find at the end of your line. The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate.

These fishes weigh up to 900 pounds, making them very difficult to catch. It would be best if you had a lot of strength and technique to get them on the hook and pull them out of the water.

Red Grouper : These fishes are found in and around the Florida coasts. These fishes prefer to live in rocky areas where there are a lot of holes and caves.

They use these caves and holes to make it their home and hide if they sense any form of danger. These fishes are very lonely and prefer to live in very deep waters, from 20 to 200 meters.

They are known to have big mouths with very distinct lips and brown bodies with white spots. They have very powerful jaws, which they used to hunt small fishes and octopuses for their food.

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They are territorial fishes and cover an area of about 500 square meters. To learn more about the specifics of the Goliath Grouper, check out Oceana.

Now the thing is, due to their size and difficulty to catch them, more often than not, when you manage to catch them, the pressure created due to their size and strength of their resistance, can break their skeletal system and hence killing them. During winter, ranging from September to March is the perfect time to fish groupers.

That is because, during the summer, they usually reside deep in some cave or hole underwater. Due to their size and strength, conventional fishing techniques cannot be used to catch a Goliath Grouper.

When you go to buy a lure, you must check if it is ideal for deep trolling or not. This kind of trolling with lures like butterfly jigs, feathers, or anything which can mimic a shellfish can attract a Grouper and is very effective.

This is very effective because, once the Grouper comes out of its shelter to take a bite, they are so far off their home that once caught, and they cannot swim back in. Frozen and natural baits such as squids, sardines, pinkish, grunts, blue runners, white mullet, squirrel fish, etc.

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If you use light or less strong tackles, there will be chances to break off, which will be a problem for both you and the fish. When it comes to line and fishing Goliath Groupers, you must use monofilament instead of braid.

On the other hand, on a conventional tackle, the line goes out in the same direction as the line is wound, which helps a lot in reeling and pulling up big fishes such as the Goliath Grouper. Goliath Groupers are caught using live or dead bait with an artificial lure.

These fishes are very strong and are keen to hide in their homes when they sense danger. To do that, you just anchor somewhat close to a cave, wreck, or reef where groupers usually reside.

Make sure you do not anchor too far away from the reefs to prevent the Goliath Groupers from returning to their home because if you are too far, they will never come out to your lure. Many factors go into catching a Goliath grouper, but technique, equipment, and intelligence are the most important aspects.

Now, what are you waiting for, go get the right equipment and take a buddy, because trust us you will need the additional strength, and go off to the nearby reef and catch a Goliath Grouper ! Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing.

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Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years. Grouper fishing in the Florida Keys and Key West is governed under the Atlantic grouper fishing regulations pursuant to Florida wildlife regulations.

That one black or gag counts towards the three grouper total aggregate max. If you are accused of not following these regulations outlined while fishing for grouper, you could be issued a criminal citation.

A citation for undersized or over the bag limit fish is not a simple ticket, it is a criminal violation. However, instead of taking you to jail, which is not very practical for marine law enforcement, they issue you a notice to appear in Court to answer for the criminal violation.

The penalties associated with possession of undersized of over the bag limit fishing violations are up to 60 days in jail and/or six months probation. Additionally, the Key West criminal defense lawyers at Robertson & Hunter, can appear on your behalf if you are from out of town.

For a misdemeanor fishing violation, there is a good chance this matter can be resolved without requiring you to come back to the Keys if you are indeed from out of town. Its massive size and slow growth (it takes five to seven years for a grouper to become sexually mature) has made it highly susceptible to pressure from commercial and recreational fishing, which has led to its status as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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Recently, the FCC conducted a stock assessment of the grouper ’s numbers in Florida, and found it to be at much healthier levels than it was when first declared an endangered species. However, the study was rejected for use in federal waters by an independent panel of scientists due to its limited scope, which only included South Florida.

They’ve raised enough concern that the FCC is now considering reopening the fishery, albeit in a limited fashion. Due to the controversy around the issue, the FCC is hosting more than a dozen workshops to discuss the matter and to get a feel for public opinion.

Currently, one idea on the table is to create a four-year paid lottery that would allow 100 people each year to harvest one Goliath grouper. It would cost $300 to buy into, and the fish can only be caught by hook and line, with no commercial harvest or sale allowed.

Studies by Florida State University marine biologists in 2010 and 2011 found that the grouper is still being fished illegally and disagreed with anglers’ statements that the Goliath is a threat to their livelihood. Furthermore, they found that Goliath improve reef diversity rather than threaten it, countering a claim that has been made by proponents of an open fishery.

Regardless, anglers contend that they are competing with the grouper, saying that Goliath have snatched their catch from their lines as they were reeling them in. This project was funded in part by a grant awarded from Mote Marine Laboratory's Protect Our Reefs Grants Program, which is funded by proceeds from the sale of the Protect Our Reefs specialty license plate.

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To sell or exceed the daily bag limit, follow commercial regulations. 31 Daily recreation bag limits: Atlantic/Monroe County: 1 per harvester per day.

Included with 3 per harvester per day grouper aggregate bag limit. Included with 4 per harvester per day grouper aggregate bag limit.

Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels.

Daily recreation bag limit: Atlantic/Monroe County: 1 per harvester per day. Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels. HOGFISHMinimum size limit (fork length) : 12" Closed season: None Daily recreation bag limit: 5 per harvester per day Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

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MACKEREL, CERORemarks: This species is not regulated in Florida state waters. MACKEREL, KING (King fish)Minimum size limit (fork length) : 24" Closed season: None Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Bag limit in Gulf-Atlantic fishery reduced to 1 when federal waters are closed to all harvest. MACKEREL, SPANISHMinimum size limit (fork length) : 12" Closed season: None Daily recreation bag limit: 15 per harvester per day Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Outside Spy: May possess 1 over 22” fork length included in the per-person bag limit. Vessel restriction of no more that 2 over 22" fork length POMPANO, AFRICANMinimum size limit (fork length) : 24" fork Closed season: None Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait. Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

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Hook and line, cast net, and beach or haul seine. Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Included within 10 per harvester per day snapper aggregate bag limit in all Atlantic waters. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

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Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

STONE CRABMinimum size limit: 2 3/4” claw Closed season: May 16 to Oct. 14 Daily recreation bag limit: 1 gallon claws per harvester or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

TUNA, BLACKFINRemarks: This species is not regulated in Florida state waters. TUNA, LITTLE TUNNYRemarks: This species is not regulated in Florida state waters.

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Sources
1 www.boatus.com - https://www.boatus.com/expert-advice/expert-advice-archive/2020/april/fishing-for-goliath-groupers
2 sportfishinglures.com - https://sportfishinglures.com/goliath-grouper-where-and-how-to-catch-them/