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 toucan 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.
Toucan 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. The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate.
With the arrival of our first few mild cold fronts, Red and Gag Grouper have begun their fall migration into nearshore shallow water haunts. This seasonal migration offers bay boat anglers the opportunity to target keeper sized grouper well within sight of land.
If you ’re catching a lot of short sized grouper, it’s a sure sign the larger ones will be somewhere else, even if it’s less than a mile away. It’s a wonderful way to scout for new fishing areas and it’s also great for pulling big grouper away from heavy structure.
These depths generally produce Gag Grouper, so I’m looking to troll near hard bottom areas with small breaks and ledges. Make sure to mark your GPS when a fish is hooked for a second round of trolling or jigging.
Heavy action spinning outfits are preferred for jigging, they offer a lighter weight package that’s more comfortable to fish for extended periods of time. Casting and Jigging Soft Baits, like the Holy Pro Tail Series is excellent for covering bottom while drifting and on anchor.
Owner of The Intrepid Angler, Captain Ross hails from the historic waters along the Caloosahatchee River. He has a a fishing guide and outdoor professional working the waters of Florida and Alaska over his career.
He now permanently resides in Cape Coral offering anglers exciting opportunities to target trophy game fish around Southwest Florida on a custom Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid Bay Boat. Although some populations are below target levels, U.S. wild-caught red grouper is still a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Large sharks and carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper. Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil.
The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect red grouper during their peak spawning period. To reduce by catch, there are restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish.
Minimum size limits protect immature red grouper. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.