New Regulations for Red Grouper

By: Terry Tomalin

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If you're an offshore fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico, then chances are you like to catch grouper, one of the finest-tasting fish in Florida waters.

These bottom dwellers love to hang around wrecks, artificial reefs and rocky limestone outcroppings, making them a favorite target for anglers from Pensacola to Key West.

But starting this week, red grouper caught in federal waters, which begin nine miles offshore, will be governed under new regulations. As of May 5, the recreational bag limit will be reduced from four fish to three fish (within the current four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit). The red grouper season will then close on Sept. 16 and won’t reopen again until Jan. 1, 2015.

Red grouper are excellent table fare. Anglers catch them on a variety of live and dead bait, including everything from live pinfish to frozen Spanish sardines. You need a stout rod and heavy line to land one of these fighters, but the catch is always well worth the effort.

A 10-pound red is usually considered a prize worth bragging about. If you're wondering how big is big, just check the record book. The largest red grouper caught on rod and reel weighed 42 pounds, 4 ounces and was landed in St. Augustine on March 9, 1997.


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