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Grouper Season

author
Maria Johnson
• Monday, 21 December, 2020
• 17 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 season pluses its florida keys fishing minuses fish snowy reel
(Source: keysweekly.com)

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 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.

grouper gag season fishing gulf florida coast fwc recreational open counties harvest april chronicleonline
(Source: content.govdelivery.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.

gag grouper season federal
(Source: www.pnj.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.

Anglers love groupers for two main reasons: They’re tough, strong fighters, and they’re delicious to eat. © Provided by Sport Fishing Now is the prime time to catch big black groupers in South Florida.

© Jim Hendricks Now is the prime time to catch big black groupers in South Florida. That closure, which runs through April 30 in Atlantic waters, started in 2010 to allow the populations of black, gag and red groupers to increase in number and in size, as well as to protect the fish during their spawning seasons.

gag season grouper florida last happy spearfishing comments
(Source: www.reddit.com)

© Provided by Sport Fishing Generally smaller than blacks and gags, red grouper need only be 20 inches to qualify as legal in Florida’s Atlantic waters. Most anglers prefer to live-bait around coral reefs and wrecks, either anchoring up current, drifting or trolling their baits.

“With that being said, especially from now until December, if you caught live ballyhoo and slow-trolled them in 15 to 50 feet of water, wherever you find a reef edge, they’re very, very effective.” © Scott Sayers Generally smaller than blacks and gags, red grouper need only be 20 inches to qualify as legal in Florida’s Atlantic waters.

“You’re trolling those little lures around all the wrecks out to 200 feet, and at some point you’ll catch baby bonitos,” he says. “As soon as you catch a baby bonito, you hook it through the upper lip and you drop it down on the upstream side of the wreck.

© Provided by Sport Fishing Pinkish make one of the most consistently productive baits for groupers. Once you hook a keeper grouper, the fish typically swims right back into the wreck or reef where it was sheltering.

Having the proper tackle makes the difference between losing the fish and pulling it away from its home, Smith says. “If you’re truly targeting big groupers, you’re better off with real heavy monofilament and the craziest, tightest drag you can imagine fishing,” he says.

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

© Steve Waters A single-hook ballyhoo rigged behind a Sea Witch beneath a planer tops the list of trolling baits for Capt. © Provided by Sport Fishing A single-hook ballyhoo rigged behind a Sea Witch beneath a planer tops the list of trolling baits for Capt.

Buddy Carey of the famed Pier 5 charter fleet in Miami perfected trolling for grouper more than 50 years ago. Smith trolls a Sea Witch with a ballyhoo rigged on a 7/0 triple-strength 3417 Mustard J hook at the end of a 100-foot length of 100-pound monofilament leader connected to a planer.

He uses a Penn International 50 spooled with 65-pound braided line to fish along coral reefs in 50 feet of water or shallower. “The groupers, on occasion, come up and hit it on top of the water, but basically you want the bait about 10 feet off the bottom,” he says.

In addition to trolling reefs, Smith works the edges of the ship channels at Port Everglades, Lake Worth, and Fort Pierce inlets as well as Government Cut. Sanding the top of the lure and painting it yellow makes it even more effective, he says, because black groupers eat yellowtail snapper.

Red grouper are easily recognized by their color and by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin. Red grouper are distributed from North Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

grouper season opens
(Source: keysweekly.com)

The species is most abundant along Florida's east and west coasts, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. It inhabits ledges, crevices, and caverns of rocky limestone reefs and lower-profile, live-bottom areas in waters 10 to 40 feet deep.

The red grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite and females are capable of reproducing at 4 years of age. Females usually release an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that remain at the surface for 30-40 days before settling to the bottom.

The maximum age of red grouper is 25 years, with older fish reaching a size of 32.5 inches and 25 pounds. Red grouper usually ambush their prey and swallow it hole, preferring crabs, shrimp, lobster, octopus, squid and fish that live close to reefs.

Open Season : June 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.

The following regulations apply to Red Grouper in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) off the coasts of Georgia and East Florida. 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.

gag grouper season fishing opens font disqus increase email comments print
(Source: www.crystalriver-fishing.com)

If an in- season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here. 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. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

Open Season : June 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. If an in- season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.

The following regulations apply to Red Grouper in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) off the coasts of Georgia and East Florida. 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.

If an in- season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here. Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.

gag grouper june season
(Source: www.pnj.com)

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. 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.

X Gulf reef fish survey required when fishing for selected reef species from a private vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. 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.

grouper gulf mexico season gag waters state nov close
(Source: wnwpressrelease.wordpress.com)

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.

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.

gag grouper season gulf open florida region county remain state
(Source: coastalanglermag.com)

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.

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.

grouper gulf gag season waters recreational state
(Source: wnwpressrelease.wordpress.com)

As a result, Goliath grouper (the continental U.S. distinct population segment) was removed from the species of concern list (71 FR 61022). Scientists from our Southeast Fisheries Science Center are working to understand the changes that have occurred in coral reef ecosystems following the loss of top predators, such as groupers.

From 1997-2005, our researchers collaborated with Florida State University's Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology (Dr. Chris Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman) to monitor the status and recovery of Goliath grouper. This Goliath grouper research program investigated juvenile and adult Jewish abundance, distribution and migration patterns; their age and growth; and their habitat utilization.

With the help of Don Maria we have tagged over 1,000 adult Jewish and have observed aggregations of Goliath grouper in both the Gulf of Mexico and more recently, the South Atlantic. Posters created by the Center of Marine Conservation help disseminate information about our project and its requirements, highlighting our tagging study and the morphology of Goliath grouper.

Given that these groupers were afforded protected status, researchers worked to utilize and develop novel non-lethal techniques to procure and analyze biological samples for life history information. Researchers have also determined that soft dorsal rays hold promise for aging older fish (Marie et al., 2008).

These casualties, resulting from red tide, gave our biologists a unique opportunity to collect a multitude of biological samples, without having to sacrifice healthy animals. From these decomposing carcasses, biologists were able to record length for use in an age/length relationship, and were able to extract monoliths and remove dorsal spines and rays for comparison of hard parts in age and growth analysis.

grouper season forecast weekly fired coinciding caught opening weather monster above 1st weekend some
(Source: spacefishreport.com)

Tissue samples were also removed and sent to the Florida Marine Research Institute, so they could evaluate the level of red tide toxin. The sampling trip gave these biologists an opportunity to educate the curious beach goers about red tide and Goliath grouper (a few of which had been misidentified as baby manatees).

Attempts to evaluate the data needed to assess the status of these depleted stocks and develop rebuilding plans present unique challenges. In 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries convened a benchmark Goliath grouper assessment for the continental U.S. population.

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Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_grouper
2 www.wayfair.com - https://www.wayfair.com/bed-bath/sb2/100-cotton-queen-comforters-sets-c215334-a9645~33035-a9646~33038.html