Everything You Need to Know to Catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg 2023

Everything You Need to Know to Catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg 2023

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Catching Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg is one of the most exciting activities in Florida. These heavily sought after fish will push you hard! The reward? A delicious, trophy-sized fish and a photo to show off for the ages.

When Is Gag Grouper Season in St. Petersburg in 2023?

In 2023 Gag Grouper season in the Gulf of Mexico is open from September through November 11. After that, you cannot catch Gag Grouper in the Gulf of Mexico until the next year’s season opens. When one is caught out of season, it must be released to protect the fishery population.

When Is The Best Time to Catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg?

  • September: Great
  • October: Great
  • November: Good

Why Pick Gag Grouper for Your Fishing Charter Experience?

With so many species of fish to catch in Florida, why do anglers focus on Gag Grouper? The answer is that with only two months to catch these highly desirable fish each year, you must strike while the season is open!

These big iconic beasts can grow as large as 60 pounds! They’re BIG! They’ll test your skills and nerve, as they pull hard to escape your line. This is a test for the brave and strong! They’ll get your heart pounding and your rod bending.

Pull a Gag in and your jaw will drop at their size and wonderful patterns. There’s nothing like that moment.

What Are The Best Gag Grouper Fishing Charters in St. Petersburg?

  • There are various options available to you to catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg.
  • But YACHTFISH Fishing Charters are the highest ranked on Google Reviews with a 4.9 rating.
  • Best of all, YACHTFISH trips are on our private fleet of boats – so it’s just you and your family or friends with your Captain and Mate. You won’t experience an overcrowded boat of tourists like many of the local charters.
  • We offer 4, 6 and 8 hour deep sea fishing trips on a state-of-the-art 32-foot SeaVee inboard. We are fully licensed and insured and led by our experienced Captain Matt Douglas and the YACHTFISH team.
  • YACHTFISH Fishing Charters depart from locations in St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Clearwater and Tampa.

Read Related: St. Pete Beach Fishing: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

Where Can I Catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg?

  • Gag Grouper are found in the Gulf of Mexico, not far from St. Petersburg or St. Pete Beach.
  • Like most Grouper, Gags swim around hard bottom reefs, wrecks and rocky structures in shallow waters and deeper waters up to 400 feet. The larger ones are usually in the deeper Gulf of Mexico waters.
  • YACHTFISH Fishing Charters will take you to their known hotspots, so you can have the best chance at hooking a beast!

Tips and Tricks for Catching Gag Grouper

  • Gag Grouper fishing involves the use of fresh bait near the bottom, with heavy tackle to bring the fish to the surface. Live pinfish work well, as will dead sardines and other cut bait. On our St. Petersburg Deep Sea fishing charters, we will catch fresh bait on the way out to our Gag Grouper hotspots.
  • The best thing to do is look for a place where Gag Grouper can hide, such as a structure that provides shelter like wrecks and reefs.
  • Anchoring up and fishing just off the bottom once the fish are spotted on the fish finder works extremely, as will drifting over known wrecks or reef ledges.
  • Secret: YACHTFISH has hot spots obtained over years and years of fishing for Gags!
  • Standard rods with a 40-pound line is a good bet, but many have seen successful with 20-30 pound line too.
  • Ensure the barb is cleanly out of the bait.

What to Expect From the Fight?

  • Be prepared to wrestle and fight!
  • Once the Gag bites, they’ll swim hard to take their food back to shelter.
  • To fight back, you’ll need to keep the reel drag tight and make sure it doesn’t freewheel.
  • It is wise to keep your rod low to the water so you can pull them up easier.

Gag Grouper Size Limit in Florida

Record Gag Grouper Catch in Florida

The Florida Gag Grouper record is also the World Record: 80lbs, 6 oz in Destin, FL in 1993.

Do I Need a Fishing License to Catch Gag Grouper in St. Petersburg?

On a YACHTFISH Fishing Charter, you aren’t required to purchase a fishing license, as it’s covered by our boat’s Captain. Just arrive for your trip and rest assured we’ve taken care of everything.

Can You Eat Gag Grouper?

Gag Grouper makes for a delicious meal! After you catch a Gag on a YACHTFISH Fishing Charter you can take it to a nearby local restaurant. There they’ll correctly prepare it for you (fried, grilled, broiled, blackened or steamed).

Fun Facts About Gag Grouper

  • They’re very similar to Black Grouper.
  • Their dorsal fins have 11 spines, with 16-18 rays.
  • Female Gag Grouper are usually paler or greyer than males.
  • Their bodies have a unique marbled print.
  • Gag Grouper changes sex when they mature, from female to male.
  • Gag Grouper are all-born females.
  • Gags grow slowly, taking 5-6 years to fully develop.
  • Juvenile Gag tend to stay closer inshore.
  • Gag can live as long as 30 years!

What Other Fish Are Hot This Fall?

If you’re looking for a bucket list experience this fall, choose YACHTFISH Fishing Charters for:

  • Shark Fishing: The ultimate heart-pounding experience!
  • Tarpon Fishing: Enjoy the world’s number-one location for Silver King fishing! A true trophy fish!

Related: Florida’s Top 10 Trophy Game Fish

Book your YACHTFISH St. Pete Beach Gag Grouper Charter Now!

CALL or TEXT: YACHTFISH CHARTERS (727) 433-4200 to book a Gag Grouper fishing charter in St. Petersburg today!

We welcome all ages and all skill levels, from young novices to experienced anglers.

Booking in advance is highly recommended, as we are set to sell out soon. If you miss out on Gag Grouper Open Season, you’ll have to wait until next year!

YACHTFISH will provide an unforgettable experience second to none with Fishing Charters from St. Pete Beach. St. Petersburg, Clearwater Beach and Tampa Bay.

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About the Author...
Matt Douglas

Matt Douglas

Captain Matt Douglas is the founder of YACHTFISH and is a licensed United States Coast Guard 100 ton Master Captain. Captain Matt grew up on the waters of Tampa Bay and lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 11 years. He has extensive experience in Central America, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Florida. Captain Matt is a tournament-winning captain who has an intense passion for boating, fishing and creating life time memories for his Clients. These passions, combined with his experience, were the catalysts for YACHTFISH. Captain Matt is laser-focused on what he enjoys the most, and knows the best, in Tampa Bay and Costa Rica.
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