2024 Red Grouper Season – Gulf of Mexico

Red Grouper Season Update for 2024

The finalized season for Red Grouper in 2024 has been announced, albeit to some disappointment. However, there’s a glimmer of hope for a potential reopening in the fall if there’s leftover quota. The Red Grouper fishery is slated to close on June 30th due to a projected quota closure. By September, or possibly sooner, we’ll have clarity on whether there’s a quota balance from MRIP wave 3, paving the way for a Red Grouper reopening in the fall of 2024.

As for Gag Grouper, although information is available on the site, the season projection is not yet public. Anticipation is high, with expectations of a short season, potentially measured in weeks rather than months. The definitive details are expected to be disclosed tomorrow at the Gulf Council meeting in Alabama. Stay tuned for further updates!

What is a Grouper?

A Grouper refers to a broad category of fish encompassing diverse species. Typically, Grouper possess robust bodies akin to snappers and possess large mouths for hunting prey. Their sizes vary significantly, ranging from several hundred pounds to mere pounds. Grouper exhibit a variety of markings, including spots, bars, and blotches, as well as monotone and two-tone color patterns. In terms of culinary appeal, Grouper stands out. Their flesh, characterized by its white, mild, and flaky texture, is ideal for a multitude of cooking methods.

Grouper Fishing Insights

Grouper, known for their robust nature, typically adopt an ambush approach to hunting rather than actively chasing prey. They’re also opportunistic feeders, readily seizing easy meals. Leveraging their sizable mouths and formidable gills, grouper create a suction force that swiftly draws prey into their grasp. Effective grouper fishing methods often involve bottom fishing, especially employing natural baits. While artificial lures can be utilized, natural baits tend to yield better results. Grouper predominantly feast on crustaceans, fish, and occasionally squid.

Habitats of Grouper

In the Western Atlantic, most grouper species inhabit temperate to tropical waters characterized by consistent moderate temperatures. Their range typically extends from North Carolina southward into the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Some species venture as far south as Brazil.

Preferred habitats for grouper primarily consist of reefs situated in waters ranging from 50 to 300 feet deep. These underwater structures, including rock piles, reefs, wrecks, and ledges, offer both prey abundance and shelter for these ambush-oriented predators. Optimal depths vary depending on the grouper species targeted. For instance, offshore drop-offs and canyons with depths exceeding 600 feet host deep-dwelling varieties like yellowedge grouper and tilefish. Conversely, species like gag grouper are frequently found closer to shore, often near grass beds, mangroves, and holes.

Gulf of Mexico Grouper Season Regulations

For certain grouper species, fishing is prohibited beyond the 20-fathom break from February 1 to March 31.

These species include:

  • Black Grouper
  • Red Grouper
  • Scamp Grouper
  • Yellowfin Grouper
  • Yellowmouth Grouper.

However, fishing remains permissible year-round within state waters inside the 20-fathom break.

Gulf of Mexico Grouper Bag Limits Overview

In the Gulf of Mexico, there are aggregate bag limits set for grouper, with anglers permitted to keep up to 4 grouper within the individual bag limits specified for each species. It’s essential to note that the aggregate bag limit also encompasses tilefish. Here’s a breakdown of the grouper species and their respective bag limits that contribute to the aggregate limit:

  1. Black Grouper: Bag Limit – 4
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 24 inches

  2. Red Grouper: Bag Limit – 2
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 20 inches

  3. Scamp Grouper: Bag Limit – 4
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 16 inches

  4. Gag Grouper: Bag Limit – 2
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 24 inches

  5. Snowy Grouper: Bag Limit – 4

  6. Speckled Hind Grouper: Bag Limit – 1
    – Vessel limit: 1 fish

  7. Warsaw Grouper: Bag Limit – 1
    – Vessel limit: 1 fish

  8. Yellowedge Grouper: Bag Limit – 4
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 20 inches

  9. Yellowfin Grouper: Bag Limit – 4
    – Minimum total length for harvest: 20 inches

  10. Yellowmouth Grouper: Bag Limit – 4

  11. Coney Grouper: Bag Limit – 4

  12. Graysby Grouper: Bag Limit – 4

  13. Misty Grouper: Bag Limit – 4

  14. Rock Hind: Bag Limit – 4

  15. Red Hind: Bag Limit – 4

These regulations aim to ensure sustainable grouper fishing practices while preserving the population of these species in the Gulf waters. Please be sure to check current seasons when fishing.

Open Year Round in Gulf Waters

For the following species in the Gulf of Mexico Waters, there is no closed season:

  • Coney Grouper
  • Graysby Grouper
  • Yellowedge Grouper
  • Misty Grouper
  • Warsaw Grouper
  • Snowy Grouper
  • Speckled Hind
  • Rock Hind
  • Red Hind

Anglers can pursue these species throughout the year without any seasonal restrictions. (make sure to check fishing regulations in your area to ensure that you able to keep your catch)

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