Everything You Need To Know About Florida Grouper Season

Florida Grouper Fishing

Grouper are stout predators that prefer to lie and wait rather than chase their prey. These fish are also opportunistic scavengers that wont pass up an easy meal. The large mouth and powerful gills of a grouper create avacuum that sucks prey into their mouth in the blink of an eye. Bottom fishing and in some cases deep dropping are the most effective methods to catch grouper. While artificial lures and baits can work, natural baits are particularly more effective for these fish. With most grouper inhabiting various structures, their most common food sources are crustaceans, fish, and occasionally squid.

Key West Red Grouper Fishing

How to Catch Grouper in Florida

The rich Gulf and Atlantic waters that surround Florida contain ideal habitat for a long list of grouper species. The best places to catch grouper will depend on the particular species. Here are the most common environments that hold grouper.

The first and most shallow environment is inshore. Some species of grouper like gag grouper will inhabit shallow waters not far from shore. Key areas are grass beds, holes, and ledges which provide these fish with shelter or a place to ambush prey.

Second, nearshore reefs possibly hold the greatest abundance of grouper. Water depths from 50 to 300 feet are ideal for a variety of grouper species. Any structure including rock piles, reefs, wrecks, and ledges at moderate depths will hold the majority prey in an area. With grouper being a hide and wait predator, this is where they live.

The final place to find grouper is far offshore at extreme depths. At depths over 600 feet deep dropping equipment may be necessary. Offshore drop off and canyons hold the deep dwelling yellowedge grouper and tilefish.

Florida Goliath Grouper Season

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has reopened goliath grouper fishing for the first time in 32 years. The new rules require anglers to enter a lottery for a tag or permit. Each permit allows for the harvest of one goliath grouper and there are approximately 200 permits. The slot limit for goliath grouper is between 24 and 36 inches. The new season is open from March 1, to May 31, 2023.

Florida Nassau Grouper

Nassau grouper are residents in both Gulf and Atlantic waters. While anglers will occasionally catch one of these giant fish, harvest is prohibited. FWC urges anglers to handle the fish with care and release it as quickly as possible.

Florida Grouper Season - Gulf of Mexico

Fishing is closed from February 1 through March 31 beyond the 20-fathom break for the following species:

- Black Grouper

- Red Grouper

- Scamp Grouper

- Yellowfin Grouper

- Yellowmouth Grouper

Fishing remains open in State waters. However, there are areas that have additional seasonal restrictions such as “The Edges" which are closed from January 1 to April 30, 2023.

Open Year Round - Gulf Waters

There is no closed season for the following species in the Gulf of Mexico Waters:

- Coney Grouper

- Graysby Grouper

- Yellowedge Grouper

- Misty Grouper

- Warsaw Grouper

- Snowy Grouper

- Speckled Hind

- Rock Hind

- Red Hind

Florida Gag Grouper Season (State & Federal Waters)

Gag grouper are no longer managed regionally in Florida Gulf waters. The gag grouper season is open from September 1 through November 10, 2023.

Florida Gag Grouper

Gulf of Mexico Bag Limits

Aggregate bag limits are in place for grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers may keep up to 4 grouper within the individual bag limits of each species. It is important to note that the aggregate bag limit also includes tilefish. The grouper species and respective bag limits that count toward the aggregate limit are:

Black Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Fish must be at least 24 inches long in total length to harvest.

Red Grouper - Bag Limit: 2

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Scamp Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Fish must be at least 16 inches long in total length to harvest.

Gag Grouper - Bag Limit: 2

Fish must be at least 24 inches long in total length to harvest.

Snowy Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Speckled Hind Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Speckled hind have a vessel limit of one fish.

Warsaw Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Warsaw grouper have a vessel limit of one fish.

Yellowedge Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Yellowfin Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Yellowmouth Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Coney Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Graysby Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Misty Grouper - Bag Limit: 4

Rock Hind - Bag Limit: 4

Red Hind - Bag Limit: 4

Florida Grouper Season - Atlantic

Fishing is open from May 1 through December 31, 2023 for the following species:

- Red Grouper

- Black Grouper

- Yellowfin Grouper

- Yellowmouth Grouper

- Scamp Grouper

- Coney Grouper

- Graysby Grouper

- Gag Grouper

- Rock Hind

- Red Hind

Florida Snowy Grouper Season - Federal Waters

Fishing for snowy grouper in Atlantic Federal Waters is open from May 1 to August 31, 2023. Fishing for snowy grouper in Florida State Waters has no closed season.

Open Year Round in Atlantic State Waters

In Florida State Waters, there is no closed season for the following species:

- Warsaw Grouper (No Federal Harvest)

- Speckled Hind Grouper (No Federal Harvest)

- Yellowedge Grouper

- Misty Grouper

- Snowy Grouper

Atlantic Bag Limits

Aggregate bag limits are in place for grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers may keep up to 4 grouper within the individual bag limits of each species. It is important to note that the aggregate bag limit also includes tilefish. The grouper species and respective bag limits that count toward the aggregate limit are:

Gag Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Bag limit is restricted to one gag grouper or one black grouper at least 24 inches in total length.

Black Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Bag limit is restricted to one black grouper or one gag grouper at least 24 inches in total length.

Red Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Scamp Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Snowy Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

In State Waters the bag limit is one fish per person but in Federal Waters it’s one fish per vessel.

Speckled Hind Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Speckled hind have a vessel limit of one fish in State Waters. Federal harvest is prohibited.

Warsaw Grouper - Bag Limit: 1

Warsaw grouper have a vessel limit of one fish in State waters. Federal harvest is prohibited.

Yellowedge Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Yellowfin Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Yellowmouth Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Fish must be at least 20 inches long in total length to harvest.

Coney Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Graysby Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Misty Grouper - Bag Limit: 3

Rock Hind - Bag Limit: 3

Red Hind - Bag Limit: 3