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.
U.S. wild-caught gag grouper is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. Near target levels and fishing rate promotes population growth in the South Atlantic.
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.
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.
Similar Species: Black grouper, M. Monaco (spur on properly is gently rounded, not serrated) Goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters.
Live fish or dead cut or whole bait are used. Photo: NOAA Grouper are large, fat-bodied fish with huge mouths and will eat just about anything they can fit in those choppers.
“Adult gag grouper live in nearshore waters from coastal North Carolina south to Brazil and as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. Smaller gag are a lot of lighter in coloring, and have numerous dark brown, or charcoal, kiss-like marks along their sides.
“Young gag grouper will live in oyster reefs, estuaries and seagrass beds from Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral, Florida. “In North Carolina, gag will typically spawn in February and have clear larvae, which then make their way into estuaries.
As water temperatures start to go down in the fall, juvenile gag will migrate from estuaries to offshore hard bottom habitat and larger members of their species,” said Seward. Seward noted that all grouper are considered protogynous intersex, “that is they start their lives as females, and a part of the population will morph, or make the change, to males as they get older.
Females start to reach sexual maturity when they are about 24 inches in total length and about 3 years old. They are voracious predators, and will feed on whatever they can capture including scad, snapper, grunt, sardines, crabs, porgies, shrimp and squid, said Seward.
Red grouper sitting on sand habitat 45 degrees to camera full body view mouth open. In addition to their color, red grouper can be distinguished from gag by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin.
“The red grouper is also a protogynous intersex and females are sexually mature by the time they reach 4 years old,” Seward said. Females typically will let go an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that stay at the surface for between 30-40 days before finally settling down to the bottom.
“Red grouper may live to be as old as 25 years of age, with older specimens reaching a size of 32.5 inches and up to 25 pounds. They will feed on lobster, shrimp, octopus, crabs and fish that are found close to their preferred reef habitat,” Seward said.
Bottom fishing is the best way to catch gag grouper, using live bait, including squid and cigar minnows. Use a depth finder to find deep-water rock ledges, artificial reefs and shipwrecks, a gag grouper ’s favorite hiding place.
Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for the snapper grouper species. “This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed and sold before the annual catch limit is reached and held in cold storage by a dealer,” said North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Assistant to Councils Steve Poland, who is also a representative with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
While populations of gag grouper have remained healthy, a 10-year effort to rebuild the red grouper stock has failed, leading to new, stricter rules and regulations taking effect this year. A stock assessment update, Sedan 53, for red grouper was completed in February 2017 using data through 2015.
Therefore, on Sept. 27, 2017, NFS sent a letter to the council stating that the South Atlantic red grouper stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding. So, NFS took steps in 2018 to immediately end overfishing of red grouper by reducing the total commercial and recreational annual catch limits, based on the acceptable biological catch recommendation from the council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee.
“For red grouper, this final rule extends the closure season formerly from January to April, to January through May of each year for the next ten years for the commercial and recreational portions off North and South Carolina, and establishes a commercial trip limit,” said Poland. This final rule establishes a commercial trip limit for red grouper harvested in the South Atlantic EEA of 200 pounds, gutted weight.
The trip limit is expected to help rebuild the red grouper stock by discouraging directed commercial fishing for the species, although it is not likely to substantially reduce the current level of commercial harvest of red grouper, according to the National Register. “The council selected a commercial trip limit that in combination with extending the spawning season cloture for red grouper off North Carolina and South Carolina would help keep down harvest numbers to help rebuild the stock,” Poland said.
(a)Additional applicability provisions for South Atlantic snapper- grouper. Section 622.11(a) provides the general applicability for bag and possession limits.
(3) In the South Atlantic, a vessel that lawfully harvests snapper- grouper in Bahamian waters, as per § 622.186 (b), must comply with the bag and possession limits specified in this section. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any snapper- grouper carcass.
(See § 622.181(b)(2) for the prohibitions on harvest or possession of red snapper, except during a limited recreational fishing season, and § 622.181(c)(1) for limitations on cuber snapper measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in or from the South AtlanticEEZoff Florida.) However, excluded from this 20-fish bag limit are rotate, South Atlantic snapper- grouper ecosystem component species (specified in table 4 of appendix A to part 622), and those specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (7) and paragraphs (b)(9) and (10) of this section.
Within the 20-fish bag limit, no more than 10 fish can be of any one of these single snapper- grouper species. For the purposes of this paragraph (b)(11), a vessel is considered to have a longline on board when a power-operated longline hauler, a cable or monofilament of diameter and length suitable for use in the longlinefishery, and gang ions are on board.
(i) A person aboard a charter vessel or head boat on a trip that spans more than 24 hours may possess no more than two daily bag limits of species other than red porgy. (ii) A person aboard a head boat on a trip that spans more than 48 hours and who can document that fishing was conducted on at least 3 days may possess no more than three daily bag limits of species other than red porgy.
(2) A person aboard a vessel may not possess red porgy in or from the EEA in excess of three per day or three per trip, whichever is more restrictive.