Dates For Grouper Season In Florida

Bob Roberts
• Monday, 18 October, 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.

grouper florida table waters gulf laws federal fishing above choose state right open
(Source: salty101.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.

gag gulf grouper season noaa boundaries sets changes water
(Source: www.bdoutdoors.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 florida coast west bad fishing reply thehulltruth private
(Source: www.thehulltruth.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.

That’s how many days the FCC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) has approved for the Red Snapper Season for 2020. A balancing act between conservation and fishing enthusiasts working hard the past several years has resulted in a healthy fishery, allowing for this many days, the longest season in recent history.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Red Snapper season opens June 11 until July 25 for both state and federal waters. The reason anglers enjoy fishing for Red Snapper so much is the experience getting them into the boat, and they taste pretty darn good, too.

grouper nassau season bahamas oh boy open florida schooled bimini received delicious per let club email game
(Source: www.thehulltruth.com)

Along the East Coast, there’s a healthy population in Florida and Georgia; it’s rare to find snapper near the Carolina's. Many people enjoy Red Snapper fillets, arguably the most popular white fish of all.

The unique topography of the gulf means you don’t need to go far to find the fish, especially along the coast of Florida. The Panhandle (Pensacola, Destiny, Orange Beach, and Panama City to name a few) is a great place to start your journey.

You may have to travel a bit farther into the Gulf to get to good Red Snapper fishing, but it’s well worth the wait. This is because Red Snapper don’t typically run the line, they use more of a shaking technique to spit the hook.

Whether you fish on your own or with a hired charter, each angler is allowed to harvest two Red Snapper per trip. While there are more days in this year’s Gulf Red Snapper season, a charter captain’s calendar will fill up fast.

(By the way, the FCC allows for Red Snapper season year round on the east side of the state, in the Atlantic Ocean. If your Florida travel dates don’t align with this year’s season, consider staying near Jacksonville, Cocoa Beach, or Fort Lauderdale along the Atlantic Coast for your Red Snapper adventure).

fishing florida seasons gulf regulations coast coastal angler saltwater fish reg
(Source: www.danielheard.com)

In South Florida, October is the month with the most hurricane direct hits. The threat of Atlantic hurricanes remains high in October, as residents of both the Southeast and Gulf Coast have been reminded of in recent years.

It becomes more difficult for hurricanes to make landfall farther north in October as the upper-level wind pattern changes and the jet stream slides farther south, but Superstore Sandy broke many meteorological rules of thumb when it hit the Northeast in 2012. Since 2016, hurricanes Matthew, Nate and Michael all made a U.S. landfall in the first half of October.

Matthew and Michael had the most devastating impacts of the three most recent October hurricanes to strike the U.S. Before the South Carolina landfall, Matthew paralleled the coasts of Florida and Georgia, bringing wind gusts as high as 107 mph to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and a peak storm surge of 9.88 feet above normal at a National Ocean Service tide gauge at Fernanda Beach, Florida.

Hurricane Michael made an extremely rare Category 5 U.S. landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018. Storm surge from Michael produced catastrophic damage in Mexico Beach, Florida.

Wind damage was extreme along its path from the Florida Panhandle all the way into southern parts of Georgia. By October, the formation zones of tropical storms and hurricanes shift westward toward the western Caribbean Sea, eastern Gulf of Mexico and far western Atlantic Ocean as the “Cab Verde” portion of the hurricane season, featuring the development of African easterly waves in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, fades.

grouper season fishing key west yellowfin looks scheduling trips opens
(Source: thekeywestfishingreport.com)

Hurricane season takes place from June through November (peaking in August to mid October), when tropical storms may develop in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. While Canadian winters are the most coveted season to voyage to the tropics, people still opt to travel from June through November for a range of reasons.

A combination of nice weather back home mixed with a good chance of rain in destination make resort prices less expensive than normal during the off season (or, spring, summer, and early fall). It is during this time that resorts complete renovations on things like restaurants, pools, and guestrooms, when they at not at full capacity.

If there is a risk of a hurricane during your vacation, tour operators can pull you from the resort and fly you home mid-way through depending on the situation and safety. If you’re on a cruise, the ship will change course and typically stay out at sea (unless there is another port available) before moving on as scheduled.

Some people are more comfortable booking island holidays outside the hurricane belt, to places like Aruba and the West Coast of Mexico where the risk is very unlikely. December through March are the popular tourist months for Cuba, also coinciding with the island’s dry season (November to April).

Hurricane season in Mexico is similar to that of the Caribbean, however rain affects the drier, northern parts of the country a bit less. Cancel the trip and receive a credit voucher for future travel which will be valid for one year following the date of the initial booking.

fishingbooker fishing crystal river season grouper
(Source: fishingbooker.com)

In this case, if clients choose to take the risk, there is no refund or compensation if the trip is interrupted due to a hurricane. In the event of a hurricane, if clients are repatriated to Canada less than 48 hours after departure, they are eligible for a credit voucher valued at the cost of the unused days.

If you are debating between staying home in Puerto Backyard and a taking a trip during hurricane season, it is best to book last minute and keep an eye on the weather to predict the forecast. Ultimately, if you’re willing to take the chance and weather the storm, you could secure yourself a great value vacation package if you book during hurricane season.

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