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.
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.
The Goliath can average over 8 feet in length and can exceed 800 pounds in weight. However, no matter which species you target, or what their size, you'll find they're great challengers worth squaring off against.
Grouper Hiding Out Near its Lair Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don Maria Collection, Flickr Some ares found in shallower waters, but the biggest brutes are at the deepest levels.
As A Fishing Booker Affiliate I Can Earn Small Booking Commissions At No Extra Cost To You Want To Go GrouperFishing ? 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 sheer prospect of lifting that amount of weight through that much water, is a recipe for pure exhaustion. 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.
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. 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.
State: Must have heads and fins intact through landing Gear rules require circle hooks and hooking tools in Gulf waters reef fish fisheries.
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. Sliding sinker rig with 6-foot mono leader, ready to drop sardine, pinkish or other bait.
“Sometimes it’s hard to grouper fish with Mali swimming around your boat, but our stretch of offshore reefs can give up some really quality gags and scamps this time of year, particularly on spots deeper than 120 feet,” he said. The rig consists of an egg sinker sliding on an 18-inch piece of 100-pound mono between two swivels.
A 6-foot piece of 100-pound mono leads to a circle hook, with the size depending on the bait. “If I’m fishing for gags, my favorite bait is a live golden spot or a pinkish,” said Johnson.
Johnson prefers the slip sinker rig, because fooling big grouper is all about presentation. Keep the sinker pinned against the bottom swivel and at the first sign of panic in the bait, let him swim away from the weight unencumbered.
Johnson says he’d always prefer to hook his live spots, grunts, and pinkish behind the anal fin, but cautions that you have to consider the current.