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March 28, 2013

April Brings Seasonal Openings in Florida

Atlantic vermilion snapper and several Gulf grouper species are back on the take-home list.

Gulf Grouper Opens April 1

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) reminds anglers that the recreational take of shallow-water groupers--except for gags--reopens April 1 in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The annual February 1 to March 31 closure of Gulf recreational shallow-water groupers includes gag, black, red, yellowfin, scamp, and yellowmouth. 

Gulf of Mexico grouper species that will open in Florida's state waters include red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind, red hind and scamp. This open season will remain through Jan. 31. Gag grouper will be open to recreational anglers of Florida Gulf state waters (not including Monroe, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties) from July 1 through Dec. 3. 

State waters in the Gulf are from shore to nine miles out. State waters off Monroe County are included with the Atlantic seasons and are currently closed to harvest through April 30.

Special Gag Season Opens in Florida's Big Bend

Gulf gag grouper opens April 1 in state waters off the following counties only: Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor, including all waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass. This season will remain open through June 30, with the first day of the closure on July 1. 

Gag Grouper Remains Closed in Federal Waters

The gag recreational season remains closed in federal Gulf waters, with an expected opening date on July 1. The proposed closing date, if approved by the Department of Commerce, will occur when the gag quota is projected to be met. That date is expected to be between November 11 and December 3. Size limits and bag limits (22 inches minimum and 2 per person) for gag have not changed. 

Anglers catching Gulf grouper must use circle hooks when fishing with natural baits and have de-hooking devices and venting tools aboard their boats.  Use of these devices helps increase the chance of survival for a fish that is caught and released.

Still have questions about gag grouper regulations? Details here

Vermilion Snapper Opens in Atlantic Waters on April 1

Vermilion snapper that are 12 inches total length (TL) or longer will be open to recreational take in Florida state waters of the Atlantic through Oct. 31. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to three nautical miles out. Anglers may take up to five fish per day in Atlantic waters; however, the captain and crew of for-hire vessels may not keep the daily limit. Anglers harvesting vermilion snapper in Atlantic state waters must have dehooking devices aboard their vessels.

Spiny Lobster Season Closes April 1

The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closes to harvest in state waters starting April 1 and will reopen Aug. 6. The two-day sport season will be July 25 and 26.