The Ultimate Guide to Catching Gag Grouper in Florida 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Catching Gag Grouper in Florida 2022

Table of Contents

Florida’s Gag Grouper open season is underway and the colder months mean it’s the best time to go catch Gag!

Until January 1st 2023, we’re licensed to catch and keep Gag Grouper on our Florida fishing charters. From October through to December there is no better time of year to go hunting after these giants of the Gulf, especially in your own private charter.

Our Captains know the hotspots for Gag Grouper, which has already paid off this week with our customers scoring two big Groupers on each trip, miles out from St. Pete Beach.

Advance booking is highly recommended as spots are going fast. CALL or TEXT us today at (727) 433-4200.

Why Fishing for Gag Grouper Is a Bucket List Experience

Gag Grouper are some of the most sought-after fish all over the Guld of Mexico, with people flocking from near and far to the Gulf coast of Florida. Here’s why:

Big Fish! Big Fight!

The first reason is, they are BIG. As with all Groupers, they’re big (although smaller than the likes of Goliaths), muscly fish that also put on a heck of a fight. They’ll take your bait and pull hard as soon as they realize they’re on your line. Think you’re strong enough? Come and prove it!

Although they don’t grow as big as the likes of Goliath Grouper, you can get your hands on some impressive trophy-sized catches to boast about for years. Just take a look at the photo above!


The second reason is they’re delicious! With a thick, tasty and flakey texture, their subtleness makes them perfect for dressings, seasoning and marinades. We’re allowed to keep two Gag Grouper per our four grouper aggregate, so you can take your catch to a local restaurant for a truly fresh meal.

Top Gag Grouper Fishing Tips

  • A wise trick to catch Gag Grouper in Florida is live bait! While quick bites can bring in aggressive fish, using a variety of live bait lures larger ones up from their bottom hide outs. They can’t resist the likes of pinfish, sardines and squid and will soon be hooked!
  • Bottom fishing is the most popular Gag Grouper fishing technique. Set up your bait, wait for the hungry Gags to arrive then reel fast! Keep a firm grip and let that upward momentum set the hook. Then, get ready for the fight!
  • On our Gag Grouper fishing charters, we’ll pick up live bait in route to the best deep-sea fishing spots!
  • Crank, don’t yank! Quickly reeling while the Gag Grouper is on the bait firmly sets the hook.
  • Beware, yanking will rip the hook right out of the Grouper’s mouth.

The Gag Grouper Bio:

  • Also known as ‘Gag’ , ‘Gagger’ or ‘Charcoal Belly’.
  • Found near structures, such as wrecks, rocks, drop offs and steep walls around 50-60 feet deep!
  • Gray to light brown complexion.
  • Aggressive and ferocious fighters.
  • Marble skin patterns.
  • Straight tails.
  • 11 dorsal fin spines.
  • They begin life in shallow water grass flats, before easing offshore.
  • Delicious!
  • They love crabs, shrimp, squid, pinfish and runners!
  • Tightly regulated during spawning season.
  • They grow slowly, living up to 30 years!
  • They all begin life as females, sexually maturing around age 4.
  • Around the age of 8 they change to males.
  • Adult gag and large fish prey on juvenile Gags!
  • Sharks and other fish larger than Gag prey on adult Grouper.

Can You Keep Gag Grouper in Florida?

Licensed Florida fishing charters can keep 2 Gag Grouper per person, within their 4 Grouper aggregate per boat.

How Big Does a Gag Grouper Have to Be in Florida?

The Gag Grouper size limit in Florida requires that the fish is at least 24″ in total length.

Where Can I Find Gag Grouper in Florida?

Gag Grouper can be found throughout the Gulf of Mexico, but the best places to go catch Gag Grouper in Florida are at:

  • St. Pete Beach: Head out to deep sea fishing territory off St. Pete Beach for the Gag Grouper hot spots!
  • Tampa: Tampa Bay’s waterways and channels are havens for Gag Grouper.
  • Clearwater

When Is Gag Grouper Season Open?

Gag Grouper season in Florida is open from June 1st to December 31st (except for Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties).

Can You Eat Gag Grouper in Florida?

Yes! These delicious fish are great for eating. You can take one to a nearby local restaurant after your Florida fishing charter and ask them to prepare it for you. Whether you have it broiled, fried or steamed it will be a truly unique, fresh seafood meal!

What’s the Record Gag Grouper Catch?

Gag Grouper’s world record was found here in Florida! 80lb, 6 oz in Destin, FL in 1993.

On average, the Gag Grouper will grow from between 5-20lbs and grow around 3 feet!

Can I Take My Kids on a Gag Grouper Fishing Charter?

Yes, we welcome people of all ages and skill ranges on our state-of-the-art fishing charter boats. These experiences are great for bonding, bravery building and education about Florida marine life. Let’s go!

St. Pete Beach Gag Grouper Fishing Report

Gag Grouper fishing varies throughout the year, but is best in the fall and winter:

  • January: Closed Season
  • February: Closed
  • March: Closed
  • April: Closed
  • May: Closed
  • June: Good
  • July: Good
  • August: Good
  • September: Great
  • October: Good
  • November: Good
  • December: Fair

What Else To Catch This Winter 2022 in Florida?

Looking for a bucket list experience this fall or winter?

Our Florida fishing charters can take you on a unique experience to hunt fish like:

Shark: The ultimate catch. Get your heart pounding when you pull up a legendary Shark and a photo to save for decades.

Tarpon: Florida is the best place to catch the silver kings. Growing up to 8ft and 280lbs, this is a true trophy fish!

Related: Florida’s Top 10 Trophy Game Fish

Book a St. Pete Beach Gag Grouper Fishing Charter Now

CALL or TEXT YachtFish today at (727) 433-4200 to book a Gag Grouper Fishing Charter in St. Pete Beach, FL!

YACHTFISH provides fishing charters from St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, Clearwater 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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