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Fishing For Grouper In Florida

author
Bob Roberts
• Monday, 21 June, 2021
• 8 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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(Source: floridafishingreport.net)

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 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.

fishing grouper goliath gulf mexico key west florida reef keys charter
(Source: www.delphfishing.com)

The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate. While federal waters have a season from May 1 until August 31 and there is a bag limit of one per vessel per day.

FloridaGrouperfishing usually takes place in deeper water, over structure and reefs, but is also highly popular as an inshore species. Grouper are very fun to catch, can offer a battle on a rod, and are one of the best-tasting fish in the ocean.

For example, while they put up an epic battle, Goliath and Nassau Grouper are illegal to harvest at any time. With epic battles and general year-round availability, FloridaGrouperfishing is without a doubt one of the most popular activities for fishermen in the state.

One of the greatest aspects is that you can target these offshore quality fish within the state coastal (shallower inshore waters) with ease. Our season dates for targeting inshore grouper generally run from June 1st to December 31st.

This shallow water targeting is a unique aspect of the Crystal River area. For shallow water bottom fishing, you would look to focus on holes, springs, and reef formations.

grouper florida types fisherman water
(Source: fishingbooker.com)

What this means is that once they hit your choice of bait, they turn right around for a powerful deep dive back to cover. Here in Crystal River for instance we utilize 6000-8000 size spinning reels loaded with 60-80lb braided line.

These are mounted to heavy action rods with a final leader composed of 80 to 1300lb fluorocarbon. In this, a strong reaction is necessary to keep this species from making it back to its rocky cover- and possibly snap the line across a sharp edge.

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.

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(Source: magazine.fishsens.com)

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.

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.

Some ares found in shallower waters, but the biggest brutes are at the deepest levels. We were fishing at about 800 feet, and the task of drifting over the hole where the snowy grouper were lurking, combined with the need to keep the hook off the ocean floor was an awesome challenge.

grouper gag fishing florida key west keys delphfishing charter catches weekly locations nov
(Source: www.delphfishing.com)

This means you have to fight, drag and pull this unwilling heavyweight up from its dark depths. To prevent this from happening, immediately crank down hard on your drag so the fish can't take more of your line.

Then begin to reel the fish in as quickly as possible so it can't get back into it's hiding spot. Hoisting one of these fish up can feel like raising the Titanic, or at least a cement truck.

The hooked fish is not moving as fast as normal because it's attached to you and your line. The Goliath have learned that this is the perfect opportunistic moment for a quick and easy meal, and will often attack and eat your fish before you reel it in.

Two Large Hooked Black Grouper Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don Maria Collection, Flickr Not only are they not afraid of you due to their size, they're smart enough to figure out a good deal when they see one.

It's a simple formula that works perfectly for this monster saltwater fish. The sheer prospect of lifting that amount of weight through that much water, is a recipe for pure exhaustion.

grouper goliath fish fishing monster florida texas nurse groupers shark charters operating sharks barrington linebacker nfl sam 4k guide
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Deep drop fishing is where you use a heavy duty electric reel loaded with lots of heavyweight line. You also set up multiple hooks at different lengths with strobe lights attached to attract the fish.

You then attach live or freshly cut bait to the hooks and set the line so it's vertical in the water. The best choice for bait is squid because this is the most common food source for fish living at these greater depths.

Of course this rapidly catching on technique means evolving into an additional fishing tackle line which is necessary if you want to have productive results grouper fishing in Florida. Traditionally, deep drop equipment has been quite expensive, but it has begun to come down in price making it more affordable.

This has increased the number of people who are now actively pursuing this exciting, productive, and challenging form of fishing. The electric reels and rods that you can use run the gambit in terms of usability and price.

You also won't want to forget employing some critical components that pull this all together such as the strobe lighting. Make sure you've taken precautions to maintain your balance, and that you're strapped in or held down, so you can't be jerked or pulled overboard by one of these brutes.

grouper warsaw florida types woman boat
(Source: fishingbooker.com)

A fishing for grouper strategy that works well is to anchor your boat over a structure, as opposed to drifting. Once you feel that first bite, give it a good solid jerk, and immediately begin to try and retrieve the fish.

Trolling for gag, black and other grouper species is another popular technique when fishing in 15' to 25' of water. Another fun technique to try when trolling is to throw out some chum to bring these Florida fish to the surface.

Jewish Fishing Before the Ban Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don Maria Collection, Flickr Knowing this, anyone sport fishing Florida Keys can expect the same kind of action whether targeting gag, snowy, black or even Warsaw.

However, once that mission is accomplished it may feel more like a spiraling, downhill, roller coaster ride, rather than a Florida fishing trip.

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Sources
1 thetackleroom.com - https://thetackleroom.com/pages/how-to-tie-a-grouper-knot
2 tampa-fishing-charter.com - https://tampa-fishing-charter.com/fishing/fishing-knots-and-rigging/grouper-knot.html
3 www.mynameisfish.com - https://www.mynameisfish.com/2015/01/fishing-rig-for-grouper-knots-hooks-and.html
4 www.pensacolafishingforum.com - https://www.pensacolafishingforum.com/threads/best-one-drop-rig-knot-for-grouper.186002/
5 finaosportfishing.com - https://finaosportfishing.com/blog/best-fishing-knots/
6 land-based-fishing.com - https://land-based-fishing.com/basic-fishing-knots-for-beginners/
7 www.mynameisfish.com - https://www.mynameisfish.com/2017/04/grouper-fishing-with-savage-gear-3d.html
8 yorkvilleluxuryrealestate.com - https://yorkvilleluxuryrealestate.com/tag/0e1371-grouper-fishing-rigs