Florida’s Gulf Coast fishermen have something to be happy about. The gag grouper bite is on and most west coast anglers have until Oct. 31 to catch their share.
But back in February, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted new management measures for this prized deepwater species that may leave some fishermen dazed and confused.
Several species of grouper - including red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind, red hind and scamp - are now fair game in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (to 9 miles offshore). The season remains open through Jan. 31.
But anglers north of the Tampa Bay area in Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties - including all waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass – had to stop fishing for gag grouper June 30. But don’t worry. This short season will only be in effect for 2012.
Anglers in the rest of the state (excluding the previously mentioned counties) saw their season start in both state and federal waters on July 1. It will remain open until Oct. 31. Remember, when fishing for grouper in the gulf, federal law requires the use of circle hooks and having a dehooking device and venting tools aboard the boat.
Confused? No problem. When in doubt, check it out. Click here for more information.