The Gulf of Mexico is a unique body of water that provides commercial and recreational anglers plenty of fishing opportunities. 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. East Coast anglers should mark your calendars for May 1, this is when Grouper and Black Grouper season opens from the Keys to Duval County (Jacksonville area).
The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate. Honestly, that’s why there are regulations in place, so that this incredible species is not overfished and the population stays healthy.
Now is the time to book your Grouper fishing charter, the season is just a few short weeks away and you’ll want to be sure to get in on the action! 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.
They spawn from mid-January to early May in the South Atlantic and from late January to mid-April in the Gulf of Mexico. 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.
This big gag was caught on a recent 39-hour trip aboard a party boat out of Hubbard’s Marina. The gag grouper recreational season in Gulf state waters off Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open for harvest Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.
State waters off the coast of Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.
Gag Grouper season starts June 1 : NatureCoaster.com accessibilityrestaurantexploredomainroom_serviceshopping_basketarrow-circle-rightsearchinstagramlinkedinyelpyoutubestarfacebookTrip Advisor Gag grouper will open for recreational harvest in most state Gulf of Mexico waters and all federal Gulf waters June 1, and will remain open through Dec. 31. Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson counties are excluded from this opening because they have their own season from April 1-June 30 and Sept. 1-Dec. 31.
Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles. If you plan to fish for gag grouper in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required).
State waters off Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties are open from April 1 through Monday. In state and federal Gulf waters, the minimum limit for gag is 22 inches.
State law requires that a vessel display a divers-down flag (red with a white diagonal stripe), whenever divers or snorkelers are in the water. State waters off the coast of Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1.
In the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters, anglers will be able to keep gag grouper from July 1 through Dec. 3, with the season closing Dec. 4. State waters off Franklin, Weibull, Jefferson and Taylor counties will not be open during the July-through-December season.
The season in all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico also opens July 1 but closes Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FCC) set the 2013 recreational gaggrouperseason for Gulf of Mexico state waters at its meeting Feb. 13 in Orlando.
The Commission selected the April-to-June season for the four-county region to allow fishing opportunities for private recreational anglers in this area when gag grouper are closer to shore and can be safely accessed by smaller boats. Because it is the least densely populated region of Florida’s Gulf Coast, fishing effort for gag grouper is relatively low in these counties.
The selected seasons will offer Florida anglers the most number of gag grouper fishing days while still contributing to the current rebuilding plan. The federal season has not yet been finalized but is expected to start July 1 and end sometime in late November or early December.
Both measures will help the state achieve consistency with federal red and gag grouper management efforts. The FCC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in February 2012, once federal rules are solidified.
In the Atlantic state waters, including Monroe County, the season closes Jan. 1 and reopens May 1. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FCC) voted Nov. 16 to change how gag and red grouper are managed in the Gulf of Mexico state waters.
“We are listening and are very concerned about the economy, jobs and managing resources for longevity as well,” Commissioner Ron Bergeron said following stakeholder conversation. Changes for red grouper will take effect Dec. 23 in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) and will include increasing the recreational bag limit from two to four fish.
Commissioners also voted to continue the current gag grouper closure in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) into 2012. This measure will help the state achieve consistency with gag grouper management efforts affecting federal Gulf waters.
The FCC believes applying the same recreational open and closed harvest seasons for gag grouper in Gulf state waters as in federal offshore waters would maximize fishing opportunities for anglers and charter boat operators along Florida’s Gulf coast. The FCC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in February 2012, once federal rules are solidified.
Dan Closer out of Crystal River, and we limited out after just a few hours of trolling big 113 and 111 Mirrors in water that wasn’t over 25-feet deep. Some other great reports came in from the 45ft to 55ft range and a mixed bag of both gag and red grouper were on the same structures.
The recreational harvest of gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico federal waters off Florida will be prohibited beginning Jan. 1. Gulf state waters (from shore out to nine nautical miles) will remain open for recreational gag grouper harvest until Feb. 1.