FWC makes modifications made to recreational season for amberjack and gag grouper

Special to The Log/USA TODAY NETWORK
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A few modifications have been made to the recreational season for greater amberjack and gag grouper in Gulf state waters. 

At its July meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued an executive order to modify the 2022-23 recreational season for greater amberjack in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The 2022 recreational season for greater amberjack in Gulf state waters will be open Sept. 1 through Oct. 31.  

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The Gulf greater amberjack stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing and the recreational season modification is consistent with an Emergency Rule recommended by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in Gulf federal waters. Consistent state and federal recreational seasons for greater amberjack would help prevent quota overages and mitigate risks of paybacks and seasonal closures.   

Earlier this year, Taylor Gordon of Indiana caught this amberjack while fishing aboard the Nothin' Matters with Capt. Tyler Brielmayer.

The limit for amberjack is one per person and must be 34 inches to keep. 

As for the gag grouper, FWC approved a final rule, effective January 1, 2023, modifying the recreational season for gag grouper in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The recreational season for gag grouper in Gulf state waters will be open Sept. 1 to Nov. 10 next year. 

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This modification for gag grouper in Gulf state waters is intended to prevent overfishing, improve stock abundance and help ensure future gag fishing opportunities. This change is consistent with pending regulations in adjacent federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Gag grouper must be 24 inches with a two per person within a four-grouper aggregate in state waters. 

The FWC is committed to collecting critical recreational harvest fishing data to inform management of gag grouper, in addition to other reef fish. The State Reef Fish Survey uses in-person interviews and a mail survey to collect information on recreational fishing for reef fish, such as gag grouper, from private boats. These methods provide the FWC with a clearer picture of the health of reef fish stocks throughout the state and help ensure the long-term sustainability of recreational fishing in Florida. 

Karissa Rumple of Destin shows off her 23.4-pound gag grouper she caught aboard the Seahorse during this year's Summer Slam at the Boathouse Oyster Bar.

The State Reef Fish Angler designation is required for recreational anglers and spearfishers who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish species from a private vessel in Florida. This designation makes recreational anglers eligible for selection to receive a mail survey component of the State Reef Fish Survey. To learn more about the State Reef Fish Survey, visit MyFWC.com/SRFS. 

For more information, including the July 2022 Commission meeting presentation, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.” 

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For current recreational gag grouper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations”, “Reef Fish” and then “Grouper.”

For current recreational amberjack regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Amberjack.”

Both pages will be updated with the new season dates. 

This information was provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.