The Gulf of Mexico gag population declined for several years beginning in 2005, possibly due to a major “red tide” event (an algal bloom that releases potent neurotoxin). Managers implemented a number of measures to rebuild the stock, and it was declared rebuilt in 2014.
Smaller fish are much lighter and have dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along their sides. Gag grow slowly, can reach more than 3 feet in length, and weigh up to 50 pounds.
Commercial fishermen must have a limited access permit to fish, land, or sell snapper and grouper species. A number of gear requirements and restrictions help reduce by catch and protect habitat.
In the Gulf of Mexico, managed under the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan : Annual catch limit allocated between the commercial (39 percent) and recreational (61 percent) fisheries. Restrictions on the type of gear fishermen may use and where they can fish, to reduce by catch and protect spawning groups.
Area closures for both commercial and recreational fisheries to protect spawning groupers. Like many fish species in the wrasse family, young gag grouper are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger.
The coloration of this species is extremely variable but generally brownish gray overall with a pattern of dark, worm-like or kiss-shaped markings along the sides. Gags can be distinguished from black grouper, Mycteroperca Monaco, that often occur in the same habitat by the distinctive color pattern and the shape of the properly (the middle bone of the gill cover).
Wrecks and oil rigs in shallow shelf waters of the Gulf also attract many gag grouper. Trolling lipped diving plugs in shallower areas of rocky bottom or reef is also a very effective method to catch these fish.
Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters. 1 At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, silver trout, sleepyhead, bonnet head sharks and a few mangrove snapper were caught over the weekend.
Sleepyhead are also biting around the pilings, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466). 2 At Madeira Beach, the nearshore dogfish bite is very good in water 30- to 80-feet deep.
Black fin tuna numbers are increasing past 110 feet for the pelagic anglers, reports Capt. 4 At Fort De Soto Park, sleepyhead are thick at the marina and the bridge.
Whiting, silver trout and some pompano are biting in Ounces Pass, reports Capt. Free lined pinkish over shallow structure and the reefs have been producing fish in the 25- to 30-inch range, reports Capt.
The gag grouper bite remains strong around the rock piles and ledges in the 14 to 25-foot range and also deeper along the shipping channel. Some docks are holding redfish along with the occasional flounder, reports Crawford.
The pompano bite has been very good around Terra Can and Anna Maria Sound, reports Hunter. 7 At St. Petersburg, gag grouper are biting along the shipping channel from Port Manatee to the Skyway and on the artificial reefs in the bay.
Pinellas Point is good for trout on the deeper grass flats and cuts. Redfish and sleepyhead are biting on the oyster bars and around the docks and canals.
Weldon Island is still holding some shook and good numbers of redfish, trout and sleepyhead, reports Mastery’s Tackle (727-896-8889). 8 In the north end of Tampa Bay, sleepyhead have moved in thick on most structure, the reefs and around the bridges.
A few redfish are biting around the Andy and Weldon Island area, but there’s better numbers in the upper bay. Some cobias is biting around the markers and areas with warm water runoff, reports Andy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
Fresh dead or live shrimp are the best bait and if the grass porgies starting biting, it's time to move to a new spot, reports Capt. • At Fort Pierce, the offshore bottom bite at 80 feet is steady for lane snapper with a few buttons and mangroves mixed in.
Spanish mackerel are biting in 30 feet of water to the north around the Very Cove. Sleepyhead, black drum and sand perch are active inside the inlet and around the bridges, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).
Offshore: Gag grouper and amber jacks can be caught in 120-160 feet of water until season closes for grouper harvest Dec. 31. Inshore: Shook have been moving into deeper water spots to find temperatures which are a little warmer.
Snapper fishing the next few days should be good in 60-90 feet of water for mangroves, lanes and buttons. Inshore: Anglers have reported decent catches of pompano along the channel edges and around submerged spoil islands in the Indian River Lagoon.
Proceeds from the event will go to help the Humane Society and the Ladder Family, whose daughter Victory has been battling lymphoma. Sleepyhead and black drum can be caught around any submerged rocky structure in the inshore waters, too.
What that means to anglers is that bass, crappie and more are pushed out to the edges into areas where the fish can feed until the water levels begins to come back down again. Slow down the presentation of artificial lures when it's cold since the fish will be moving more slowly.
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.
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.
The last few Middle grounds trip gave us decent action overall but it's been pretty slow on the gag grouper. The Red grouper and mangrove snapper have been biting real well.
The gag grouper have been showing up in shallow water close to all the stone crab traps. After Tropical storm Isaac and having to cancel our last scheduled Swordfish trip of the year, Captain Rich was excited to get back on the water.
Instead of our normal barbecue and fish story session at the dock, Capt. Rich decided we needed to leave early, so we cooked dinner while under way.
The bite Saturday morning gave us a Grouper around 30#’s and a few others between 8-10 lbs. Doug Nail caught a nice Mutton about 12 lbs, and Chuck Basal pulled up a good 22 lb Cobra.
The Elbow also produced Scamp Grouper, Red Grouper and some VERY large Vermilion Snappers, Porgies & Amber jack, there were a few Yellowtail Snappers, that came over the rail too, The fishermen all had a great time. Click here for pics Captain Rich had the helm of the Gulf star for this weekend’s 2-day Middle Grounds trip.
After driving in circles for a few hours he was able to find the Florida middle Grounds. We were fishing in 170 ft. of water catching Gag, Red Grouper and some large Amber jack.
The thunderstorms kept passing by quickly causing the anchor course to constantly change. On Saturday evening the thunderstorms cleared up and the anchor course straightened out.
Saturday night’s fishing was excellent with a catch of mostly Mangrove Snapper along with Gag and Red Grouper. On Sunday morning we made a couple stops for some more Grouper and Large Amber jack.
Check out the photo that Captain Rich gave us to post on the website of his big snapper! So now we’re in the heat of the summer, there’s a deep water trip and there’s no way I’m staying on land this weekend.
At departure time I bellied up to the helm, told the boys to throw off the lines and now for sure I was going to be on the boat! The weather forecast was absolutely perfect, the seas were flat calm and the onboard navigation system said 120 miles to the first stop.
We fished for ball bat snapper most of the day on Saturday with what I would call moderate success. By the end of the day, we have 26 of them in the box along with assorted Grouper, a Black fin Tuna caught by Ricky the drill sergeant, Jumbo Porgies, Grey Tile fish and a large Long tail Bass.
In our original plan, we were hoping to spend two days in this area working on the grouper and queen snapper but the catching was just not good enough so Captain Jerry and I decided to scout around while we tossed ideas at each other to make tomorrow a great comeback day. Within fifteen minutes we had the first couple mutton in the boat, along with some Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper.
Just like the Queen Snapper fishing, it wasn’t a bail job, but it was a steady pick. When we got there we got a little nervous because we read a lot of Red Snapper on the screen and of course, Red Snapper is closed right now, and we did not want to have a bunch of dead fish floating away because we were in fairly deep water.
Then the flood gates opened and the Jumbo Red Grouper were biting! Although it wasn’t the deep water catching trip we had anticipated, we still went home with lots of large trophy fish and big smiles with pictures to back it up.
The Gulf star ventured out to the Elbow area this past weekend and the result was good fishing once again. Jerry settled in on a nice piece of bottom and gave the “drop em” order to 18 eager anglers.
Before long mixed size Mangrove snapper, Red grouper and Porgies started hitting the deck followed by a flurry of teen size King Mackerel. Unfortunately, some snapper were of the American Red kind that had to be vented and released due to the closed season.
Things got real interesting with the largest grouper of the trip being caught in the deeper water. Tim Harrington decided to do some “Yankee Style” diamond jigging all day and was rewarded with 4 Gags to 12 lbs, 2 Red grouper, 2 King Mackerel and a few large Mangrove snapper.
Johnny Lineage Pinellas Park, Fl caught his limit of large Mango along with a half dozen keeper Grouper. His buddy, Butch Rig aux also caught a bunch of Mango, 2 Mutton snapper, 2 Yellowtails and a couple of grouper.
Someone just has to get the word out to the American Red Snapper that the 2012 season is now closed and PLEASE stop biting. Anyway, when we started fishing at around 3:00am Saturday morning the Mangrove Snapper were biting kind of weird and made catching them pretty tricky.
We were also “bothered” by the American Reds that were eating the Mango baits as angler Alan Golden would attest. A few King Mackerel also kept things interesting until sunrise when it was time to head off to the Grouper grounds.
Just about every drop had Red, Gag & Scamp grouper eager to take our dead and live baits. Mixed in with the Grouper were Porgies and some nice size Vermilion Snapper.
John Debut from Spring Hill, Fl managed his limit of Mango and took the pool with a 7 lb fish. Howard Mayer from New Port Richey, Fl also cleaned up on the Mango and took the Red Grouper pool with a 15 leer.
Jeff Red dick from Philadelphia, Pa caught his limit of 8 Grouper, added 13 Mango and a bunch of Porgies to his catch. Dick Bone brake from Orlando, Fl making his first Middle Grounds trip landed 6 Grouper and cranked in 10 nice Mango.
Florida's fish and wildlife officers were at the dock waiting to inspect our catch when we returned to tarpon springs. The officers made several comments about the large size of the fish and the quantity of the catch.
Beautiful weather, great fishing and the boat & crew have been working overtime. Heck, it seems that the engines just begin to cool off and it’s time to get back offshore for another trip.
Things started off with a nice steady pick of mixed size Mangrove Snapper and an occasional Red Grouper or two that kept every angler pretty busy. On most of the drops, fishing was “excellent” with many Red, Gag and Scamp Grouper.
The average weight of the keeper size Red Grouper were probably 6-8 lbs with several over the 10 lb. There were plenty of “teen size” Gags with the pool fish being over 25lbs caught by Abraham Dahl.
Boy, there were some real nice Scamp Grouper caught also…many fish were in the 5-8 lb range! Several anglers like the Grass Family, Mark Nelson, Don Harrell and Diego Pendent either had their Grouper limit or very close.
For those who used a “chicken rig” they were rewarded with some large B-liners and Porgies to top off their coolers. When this trip was scheduled and announced to our customers several months ago, it took only a few hours to sellout.
With perfect weather in the forecast, the stage was set for this offshore excursion and by 3:45pm we were on our way. Jerry’s plan was to fish the Elbow area primarily for Mangrove Snapper at night to start, than work his way offshore during the daylight hours.
The first drop was around 11:30pm with flat moonlight seas and it took all of 3 minutes for the first Mango to hit the deck. With rods bent all around the boat some impressive fish started hitting the decks…very large Grouper …huge Scamp & Red Grouper, and mixed sizes of American Red Snapper.
John Hendry took the Red Snapper pool with a fish over 20 lbs, added a 10 lb. Keith Stone of Sarasota, Fl “crushed” the Mango, had his As limit, 3 large Gags, 1 Scamp and 5 Red Grouper.
Chuck Jackson from Palm Beach, Fl made his long trek worth it with his limit of Mango, American Reds and topped of his cooler with 7 Scamps and 4 other grouper. And the list goes on… I didn’t have enough ink in my pen to record everyone’s catch.
Next the crew, Chef Paul, if you go hungry on The Gulf star, it’s your fault, the food was amazing, and as much as you could eat, drinks were kept in the cooler on ice, Chef Paul kept the cooler full and drinks on ice the entire trip, ok next the crew, hardest working crew, I have ever seen on a boat. I have been fishing on a lot of boats but I have never seen the total package put together so well as the operation on The Gulf star.
It is the total package… I am going on the sword trip at the end of August and I cannot wait to get back on board The Gulf star. With Tropical Storm Debby finally out of the area and calmer seas upon the Gulf it was time to get back to fishing.
Our group of 18 anglers and a well rested crew were ready to go after enjoying Capt. They were easily recognized by their purple tee shirts tattooed with “East Coast Crackers” with a motto of “all we do is fish”… and they weren’t kidding.
Jerry was a little concerned about the fishing conditions after the storm and set a course to the Middle Grounds with the expectation of finding some hungry fish…and as usual…he did! Even though the water was a little “milky” the first few drops yielded decent catches of Mangrove Snapper, Porgies and Red Grouper.
While the fishing wasn’t an all out “beat down” some anglers like Fetch White & Bob McKenzie managed their Mango limits. After midnight and the Gag season officially open, Capt.
Jerry saved two spots for sunrise to give everyone a chance to catch a couple of these bottom dwelling beasts. Thanks to all for fishing with us and a special thank you to the East Coast Crackers for making the trip down to the Sunshine State.
Rich and his brother Joe down in the grueling hot engine room found a solution to the problem early Friday evening. Now that the Gulf star was fully operational, Melissa and Libby from the Viking Landing office hit the phone lines to contact all the scheduled passengers to advise them that we would be sailing to the Middle Grounds on a 32hr.
We ended up with 14 passengers and departed the dock sharply at 8:00am Saturday morning. Jerry had a good idea of where to start fishing and make the most out of a shortened trip.
His instincts were once again right on the money and on the first drop around 1:00pm Saturday afternoon the American Red Snapper started hitting the decks. As the boat continued to work its way offshore, several more drops yielded similar results and by dinner time most anglers had their coolers nicely stacked with Snapper and Grouper.
Jerry worked to his favorite Mango spots and boy did he find some hungry Mangrove Snapper. In addition, John also had his limit of American Red Snapper to top off his cooler.
Anglers Doug Nail, Elsie Chase, Gary Blanch and Mike Nevis topped out with their limit of Mango along with American Reds, Red Groupers and Porgies. Carl Tandatnick had a slow start to the trip but took the advice of the experienced Gulf star crew.
Finishing up their week-long fishing vacation with their third consecutive long range trip on the Gulf star, Fred & Michael Bis bee from Springdale, Arkansas loaded up on American Reds, Mango and Red Grouper …these guys may need a second van to get all their fish back to Arkansas. George prepared his usual goodies as part of our preboarding “meet & greet” program.
Jerry set a course to the fishing grounds and by 1:15am the baits hit the water. Those conditions continued for most of the day and the anglers toughed it out with good results.
The weather conditions improved after sunset and the fishing got “red-hot”. Daniel Atkinson had his limit of American Reds as well as a nice cooler of Mangroves.
Mike Greenberg from Huntsville, Alabama also caught his limit of American Reds, 15 nice Mango (including the 7lb. Fred & Michael Bis bee from Springdale, Arkansas had hot hands with their limits of American Reds, and a cooler filled with a healthy mix of Mangrove & Vermilion snapper and Porgies.
Frank Washington, Calvin Alexander, Rodney Roberts & Cliff Schools from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania totaled 10 American Reds and stuffed their coolers with Mangroves & Porgies. Other anglers having great catches were Tony Rosa & Fetch White.
The fishing was so good last weekend, Captain Jerry decided to do it again. As our group of 14 fishermen began showing up at the Viking dock and loading their gear in preparation for our offshore trip, Capt. Also mixed in the catch were Porgies, Bee-liners, Bar Jacks, Yellow Tail Snappers, and Amber jacks.
Jerry ran over a very large “fish reading” and once we anchored the American Red Snappers were very hungry. After a delicious Roast Beef dinner at sunset, we moved back to the Mango grounds to set up for the night bite.
While it got a little windy around midnight and the fishing conditions were challenging, the Mango’s continued to provide plenty of action. We also had another visit from the pesky King Mackerel which provided loads of fun for those who fished for them.
Captain Jerry impatiently waits for this trip every year, amped up he was pacing the dock on Friday thinking about the big ones out there, waiting to scarf down our tasty baits and become tasty files! The boat fished its way south, bouncing hard bottom getting massive Scamp and Red Grouper all day also releasing lots of jumbo Red Snapper and Gag Grouper.
83 yr old Sargent Bill Hines had a great trip getting some buttons, scamps, yellowtails and some jacks. Captain Jerry had to re-anchor a couple of times during the night due to the current changing direction and speed.
What a special trip this turned out to be this year, the weather was great the fishing was awesome and lifelong memories were made. We did expect a few more jumbo Jacks to come aboard this trip, but most were 20-30 lbs.
The Gulf star is out on dry-dock right now we are sand blasting the bottom, getting the propellers balanced, changing shaft bearings and repainting the bottom with 2 coats an epoxy barrier then two coats of antifouling paint. We are working with the Coast guard to get the approval to put the canvas over the cockpit, I think we will have it resolved soon.
Sorry for the late report…. The 12-hour trip was a rough one… The weather forecast was 10-15 KTS winds, seas 2-3 ft… perfect Grouper conditions. After drilling it until late Saturday night we gave in and called the trip.
2012 Today's Half Day gave us decent action most of the trip but. 12 Hour Wednesday, April 11, 2012, We had another great day of Grouper catching today.
Captain’s Jerry and George had the helm on this weekend's 2-day trips. Red grouper season opened this weekend so everybody was cranked up to catch some fish.
12 Hour Grouper Wed April 4, 2012, We had an excellent trip today. The first stop gave us a hand full of Grouper bites some really nice keeper size too.
At the end of the day we had plenty of Keeper Red Grouper in the box up to about 12 or 13 lbs. Fantastic Today's Half day was fantastic… The fish were biting like they have not eaten in a month, the weather was perfect and the seas were flat calm.
Captain’s Jerry and George had the helm on this weekend's 2-day trips. Red grouper season opened this weekend so everybody was cranked up to catch some fish.
Now the fishing wasn’t super great and no the weather was not picture perfect. One mom from Chicago showed her husband and kids she can fish too.
She caught the largest Black Sea Bass we have seen here in the Gulf of Mexico. Today we had a decent bite on the first couple of stops, then it slowed up as the tide changed for about an hour.
First Name: : Evelyn Comments: : Today is 3/19/2012 the Gulf stars captain Rich and staff. Northwest Charter. Once again we had fantastic weather and the fishing improved some today.
We caught Key West Grunts, Porgies, Black Sea bass, Red Grouper, Gag Grouper, Blow Fish, Spanish and King Mackerel. What a nice mix of fish and a super fun bunch of anglers.
A special thanks to captain Rich for letting the kids drive the boat and showing our resident diesel mechanic around the engine room. This is a trip I would highly recommend to any company wanting to have a unique team building experience.
Another day in paradise. Once again perfect weather and today fishing was a bit better than yesterday. Today we had more children than on recent trips and the kids had a blast catching Key West snapper, Black sea bass, Red Grouper and even a Trigger fish.
Almost everybody caught fish to take home for dinner and some got to release a red grouper or two. The weather was windy Sunday night and early Monday morning but one of the really nice things about leaving at 11 AM fishing is that the sun is usually shining and you have a good idea of what the weather is going to be like for the day.
After this past weekends cold front passing by with very high winds I was a little concerned about the water clarity and the fishing conditions for today's trip. All anglers had loaded-up stringers with some really large Sea Bass and Key West snapper.
The weather forecast was for rain in the morning and wind in the evening. Many people went home with big bags of fillets, sunburns and smiles.
We filled three boxes with fish and most had lots of fillets to take home. The Gag and Red grouper bit well with fish up to 12 lbs coming over the rails.
We also caught Dogfish, Black Sea bass, porgies and Key West snapper a.k.a. Most passengers filled up there stringers half way and left with many tasty fillets.
With rods bending and reels screaming, the crew rushed around the boat assisting fishermen land their big Amber jacks. We also caught Red Snapper and large Gag Grouper, which we released.
Although we didn’t catch any keeper Red Grouper, we did have lots of action and took some fish home for dinner. Captain Rich is licking his wounds and planning his revenge.
Captain Rich reports a killer weekend aboard the Gulf star. The passengers had a good steady bite of all the regular reef players at the Middle Grounds.
First time Gulf star customer Ronnie Mil sap popped a nice Cobra along with 3 nice Red Grouper and a cooler full of assorted Snappers and Red Porgies. Captain Jerry reports all the passengers aboard the Gulf star had great fishing action with lots of (Key) West Snapper and Grouper coming over the rails.
Captain Steven Forster Jr from our Montauk office had a buss mans holiday and went fishing for the day with his girlfriend, Angelina.