4 Florida counties open April 1 to gag grouper recreational harvest

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 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.”

Make sure you are boating safely when on the water – visit MyFWC.com for safety information.