4 Florida counties open April 1 to gag grouper
4 Florida counties open April 1 to gag grouper recreational harvest; FWC gathering input on changes to this season
State waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1. This regional season will remain open through June 30. The season also 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.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff have received stakeholder requests for a longer season in this area, and are gathering public input on potential changes. At the April 19-20 Commission meeting in Tallahassee, staff plan to present a draft proposal keeping the April through June season in this area, and adding a September through December season. If this proposal is approved, it will need to come back before the Commission in June for final approval, but could be in place in time for anglers to participate in a fall season later this year. Visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments to learn more or to submit written input. For your comments to be considered at the April meeting, submit input no later than April 12.
The gag grouper season in the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters is open June 1 through Dec. 31. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties are not currently scheduled to open for gag fishing July through December. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.
Gag grouper caught in state Gulf waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles out) April 1 to June 30 off the four-county open region can 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 if those areas are 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.”
The minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The bag limit is two gag grouper per person. Recreational anglers targeting groupers in the Gulf may harvest no more than four grouper per person per day (within this four-fish limit, anglers may keep only two gag grouper).
If you plan to fish for gag grouper in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, make sure you are currently signed up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.