The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the 2013 recreational gag grouper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters at its meeting Feb. 13 in Orlando.
The season in most state waters is slated to start July 1 and end Dec. 3.
State waters off the coast of Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties, including waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, will have a gag grouper open season of April 1 through June 30. This four-county region will not be open during the July 1 through Dec. 3 season.
The Commission selected the April-to-June season for the four-county region to allow fishing opportunities for private recreational anglers in this area when gag grouper are closer to shore and can be safely accessed by smaller boats. Because it is the least densely populated region of Florida’s Gulf Coast, fishing effort for gag grouper is relatively low in these counties. By replacing the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season with a shorter but more desirable season in the Big Bend, the Commission hopes to balance the economic and social needs of this region with the conservation needs of gag grouper.
Monroe County is excluded from the Gulf of Mexico season because it is included in the Atlantic season for gag grouper.
The selected seasons will offer Florida anglers the most number of gag grouper fishing days while still contributing to the current rebuilding plan. The federal season has not yet been finalized but is expected to start July 1 and end sometime in late November or early December.
Learn more about gag grouper by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”