Gag Grouper Season Open in Certain Florida Counties

Gag grouper is one of the most popular saltwater fishing species anglers enjoy catching each year in the Gulf of Mexico. Special seasons and limits help keep populations in check.

Gag Grouper Season Open in Certain Florida Counties

Gag grouper is one of the most popular saltwater fishing species anglers enjoy catching each year in the Gulf of Mexico, but special seasons and limits help keep populations in check.

Grouper frequent structure changes and cover, such as sunken ships, oil or gas rigs, and man-made reefs. Targeting grouper requires some stout tackle: a heavy rod, strong line  and a good hook that will penetrate their thick lips but not give way during the battle. A few small grouper are fun to catch and fight, and give notice of what the giants can do when hooked.

Florida recently announced a regional recreation harvest season for state waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties. The season opens April 1 and runs through June 30. The season includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.

State waters off these four counties also open to recreational gag harvest Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

The gag grouper season in the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters and federal waters is open June 1 through Dec. 31. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.

Gag grouper caught April 1 to June 30 in Gulf state waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles out) from off the four-county open region may be landed on the Gulf County side of Indian Pass and the Dixie County side of the Steinhatchee River, but may not be taken ashore in other areas closed to harvest. For example, a gag grouper caught April 1 in state waters off Jefferson County cannot be taken ashore in Levy County or parts of Dixie County outside of the Steinhatchee River. To see maps of these areas, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Groupers.”

If you plan to fish for gag grouper in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, make sure to sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler prior to your fishing trip (annual renewal is required for most anglers, including those over 65 years of age). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

To learn more about grouper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on  “Recreational Regulations” and “Groupers.”

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