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Is It Grouper Season

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Tuesday, 27 October, 2020
• 8 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.

season fishing grouper offshore closed
(Source: www.youtube.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).

Gag grouper will close to recreational harvest in Gulf state and federal waters Jan. 1, 2021. For gag grouper, state waters off Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson counties will reopen to harvest April 1 through June 30 and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

In the Atlantic and state waters of Monroe County, the grouper closure ends April 30, and harvest will reopen May 1. Rebecca Barry She is thrilled to be in the River City where she can catch the JU Dolphin's games and study the diverse weather patterns.

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.

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

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.

Western boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region. Eastern boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region.

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

In the Atlantic and state waters of Monroe County, the grouper closure ends April 30, and harvest will reopen May 1. Sight casting opportunities for trout, redfish and black drum are tricky.

Conditions through the next few days suggest this technique will work the best early in the morning before the winds come up. Black drum are taking natural and cut baits near the canal and deeper channels.

The most important part of grouper fishing is getting those first few cranks on the reel when the strike comes to keep it out of its hole. The pompano run may well be in the rearview mirror, but there is still plenty of fun to be had at the beach.

Big jacks up to 30 pounds can be caught by surf casters heaving large top water plugs and spoons. Fish in the 2-3-pound range are lying in ambush anywhere seagrass can be found, sitting on the end of points around mangrove shorelines and even along seawalls where shook, jacks and flounder can also be caught.

At first light, toss hard top water plugs like Mirrors, Papal Skitter walks or X-Raps. The reef just off the North Jetty at Sebastian Inlet State Park where the shook always stage has been a good place to catch and release an overshot.

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

Fish inside the inlet along the shorelines for a better chance at a slot sizes nook. Bluegill fishing is picking up in area ponds, lakes and parts of the St. Johns River.

Gag grouper have long, compressed bodies and 11 to 14 rays in the anal fins. Coloration is highly variable in gag and changes with the size of the fish.

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.

Gag may live for 26 years and grow to be 58 inches in length and weigh up to 81 pounds. They are predators of round scad, sardines, porgies, snappers, grunts, crabs, shrimp and squid.

grouper season
(Source: www.youtube.com)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In

01: World Record For Gag Grouper
02: Worms In Grouper
03: Air Fryer Grouper Fish
04: Air Fryer Recipes For Grouper
05: Air Fryer Recipes Grouper
06: Triathlon Age Grouper
07: Trolling For Grouper Crystal River
08: Trolling For Grouper In Tampa Bay
09: Trolling For Grouper In The Gulf
10: Trolling For Grouper In The Keys
Sources
1 www.florida-keys-vacation.com - https://www.florida-keys-vacation.com/Grouper.html
2 keywestcaptconch.com - https://keywestcaptconch.com/how-to-catch-grouper-in-the-keys/
3 www.robertsonhunter.com - https://www.robertsonhunter.com/grouper-fishing-regulations-florida-keys-key-west/
4 www.bradenton.com - https://www.bradenton.com/sports/outdoors/fishing-boating/article248093150.html
5 fishmonster.com - https://fishmonster.com/blogs/fishmonster-magazine-1/wintertime-shallow-water-grouper-fishing
6 www.reelfishingguru.com - http://www.reelfishingguru.com/how-to-fish-for-grouper/
7 flfishingspots.com - https://flfishingspots.com/florida-keys-fishing-spots-grouper/
8 greatamericanwildlife.com - https://greatamericanwildlife.com/fishing-for-red-grouper-in-southwest-florida/