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Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Season 2019

author
Daniel Brown
• Thursday, 26 November, 2020
• 8 min read

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.

grouper florida season fishing coast
(Source: www.fishanywhere.com)

Contents

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.

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.

(Source: www.fisheyesportfishing.com)

Western boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region. Eastern boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region.

Florida recently announced that it will increase the recreational red grouper bag limit in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) on December 30 from two fish to four. The red grouper bag limit increase is one of several fishery management changes made at the November Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FCC) meeting in Key Largo.

This includes the regularly scheduled annual closure from February 1 through March 31 in Gulf state waters. The FCC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in February 2012, once federal rules are solidified.

In the Atlantic state waters, including Monroe County, the season closes January 1 and reopens May 1. 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.

(Source: bostoncyclechic.blogspot.com)

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. The real question is, what subspecies of grouper you’ll find at the end of your line.

season grouper reopens hogfish
(Source: floridasportfishing.com)

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). Honestly, that’s why there are regulations in place, so that this incredible species is not overfished and the population stays healthy.

Now is the time to book your Grouper fishing charter, the season is just a few short weeks away and you’ll want to be sure to get in on the action! Gag grouper have long, compressed bodies and 11 to 14 rays in the anal fins.

Smaller fish are much lighter and have numerous dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along the sides. The scamp, M. final, and black grouper, M. Monaco, closely resemble the gag and often occur in the same habitat.

Gag have deeply notched properties, distinguishing them from black grouper. Spawning takes place in February off the coast of the Carolina's and in January through March in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gag may live for 26 years and grow to be 58 inches in length and weigh up to 81 pounds. Gag often congregate around rocky ledges and swim in small groups.

sports
(Source: www.theledger.com)

They are predators of round scad, sardines, porgies, snappers, grunts, crabs, shrimp and squid. The caudal (tail) and anal fins of the gag have white margins, while the black grouper does not.

Open Season : May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met. If an in- season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.

Annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure: January 1 – April 30 Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.

At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.

Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.

(Source: www.anglerhq.com)

All species must be landed with head and fins intact Recreational Bag Limit sales are prohibited Open Season : May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the commercial Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met.

Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.

Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude. This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the annual catch limit being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer.

While the fall gag grouper season opened June 1 for most Florida state and federal waters of the Gulf, the Gulf of Mexico gag grouper recreational season in state waters off Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties did not open until Sept. 1. Gag grouper season will remain open for all state and federal waters of the gulf through Dec. 31.

gag grouper harvest fwc gulf region county govdelivery recreational closing vatter thomas
(Source: content.govdelivery.com)

Just like last week’s Gag Grouper post, the FishAnywhere team is equally excited about Red Snapper season. *Other Gulfport states have different opening dates since NOAA Fisheries issued exempted fishing permits for 2018 and 2019 to each Gulfport state; Federal seasons for Red Snapper opens June 1, 2019, until August 1, 2019.

Alabama: Weekends Only (allowed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) from June 1-July 28 (includes Independence Day on Thursday, July 4). Florida : Open seven days a week in Gulf state and federal waters from June 11-July 12; with possible reopening in fall if quota is available.

For us, live bait works best for catching Red Snapper; such as large Sardines, Pinkish, or Mullet. Most anglers use natural baits when fishing Red Snapper, but some artificial lures can also do the trick.

Offshore trips tend to use 60- to 80- pound test line to support the weight needed to hold your bait down, while inshore or nearshore (with shallow water) fishing trips use medium tackle of 20- to 30- pound test line. We find that heavy gear is best; but check with your FishAnywhere Professional Charter Captain or Fishing Guide for their recommendation.

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Sources
1 fishingbooker.com - https://fishingbooker.com/blog/florida-fishing-spots/
2 www.tripstodiscover.com - https://www.tripstodiscover.com/fishing-vacations-in-florida/
3 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/fishing-tips/seasons/
4 offshorehustler.com - https://offshorehustler.com/fish-calendar.php