Gag grouper will open for recreational harvest in most state and all federal Gulf of Mexico waters June 1. The black grouper and gag minimum size limit will increase from 22-inches to 24-inches total length in Gulf state waters starting June 1, to match recent changes in Gulf federal waters.
The gag grouper recreational season will be June 1 through Dec. 31 in all Gulf state waters excluding Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties (which have their own season from April 1-June 30) and excluding Monroe County (Monroe County follows the Atlantic state season).
Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters begin where state waters end and extend to 200 nautical miles.
Prior to these changes, the Gulf gag grouper season was July 1 through Dec. 2 in federal waters and July 1 through Dec. 3 in most state waters. Opening the season in June will help reduce discards of gag grouper during the recreational red snapper season, and the later December season closing will provide additional fishing opportunities for southwest Florida anglers who have expressed interest in being able to target gag during this time of year.
The size limit increase helped allow for the longer recreational harvest season for gag grouper and could allow more female gag grouper to reach maturity before being harvested. Gag and black grouper are commonly confused for one another, which is why the size limit was increased for both species. These changes will mean that the size limit for gag and black grouper will be the same in both Gulf and Atlantic waters.