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.
Gulf grouper are large fish that live in shallow, coastal areas during their first 2 years of their life, before moving on to rocky reefs and kelp beds. Gulf grouper used to be very common in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but they became scarce because commercial and recreational fisherman could easily catch them.
Their abundance has severely declined since the mid-20th century primarily because of direct harvest by commercial and artisanal fisheries. In the Gulf of California, gulf grouper were once abundant and represented approximately 45 percent of the artisanal fishery in 1960.
Outside a known population in Bahia Magdalena, there is no published evidence of gulf grouper along the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula. They are naturally rare north of Bahia Magdalena in southern Baja California.
Gulf grouper are also likely protogynous hermaphroditic, which means that they mature as females and later transition into males. They gather at reefs and underwater mountains and form spawning aggregations from April to June.
Activities that may degrade their habitat include the release of contaminants, such as urban runoff, wastewater, or oil and gas spills. Pollution can also reduce the amount of oxygen in the water or deliver chemicals that are toxic to these fish.
Physical barriers, such as shoreline and offshore development can also threaten gulf grouper by limiting their access to important breeding or feeding areas. Overfishing Direct harvest of gulf grouper, especially at spawning aggregation sites, is the biggest threat to the species.
First, adult gulf grouper gather in large groups at the same time every year to reproduce. This means that there are fewer male groupers left in the oceans, which makes reproduction more difficult.
Even if these fisherman release grouper, they can still die from the injuries or stress caused by their capture. 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.
Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper. 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. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.
But when a grouper takes the bait, that fish could hardly be called an unwelcome guest! Regardless of the exact species of grouper you've hooked, you can expect a rugged fight, the possibility of a huge fish and -- if it's of legal harvest size -- an excellent meal at the end of the day.
More than a few anglers dangling a line off the side of a party or charter boat, expecting the tap of a snapper taking the bait, have been rudely greeted by a sudden, sharp downward thrust of the rod. In truth, the other end of the rig is attached to a grouper that has emerged from a crevice in the hard bottom or some hiding place in a wreck below.
After grabbing the bait, the fish immediately heads back for its “safe house” in the structure. If you're lucky enough to turn such a fish and keep it from tangling or cutting your line on the cover, a tug-o'-war is next in order.
Because several species of grouper routinely reach 30-pound or greater weights, battling them can be brutal warfare. Rather than cut squid or bait fish that attracts the snappers, you are better served by dropping a live minnow.
Cigar minnows, craters, pinkish and finger mullet are some of the more popular of those forage fish. In the northern Gulf, these fish ordinarily stay around rock bottom formations.
Reds are fond of hiding in crevices and holes in rocky limestone bottoms and favor water 10 to 40 feet deep. The fish has a speckled look to its sides, with brown coloration and a yellow tint near the mouth.
The Goliath is a protected species, leaving the Warsaw as the largest of the family that can be harvested. An offshore species, the Warsaw prefers depths of 250 to 650 feet, and is usually found around irregular bottoms or drop offs.
These fish are grayish to dark reddish-brown all over, and their dorsal fin has a very long second spine sticking up. SUMMING IT UP Whether you're heading out for a day of snapper fishing or are targeting grouper specifically, you stand a good chance of tangling this spring and summer with one of these “bulldogs” of the reefs.