Clearwater Inshore Fishing Report for June
June 8, 2018
Clearwater Inshore Fishing Report for July
July 17, 2018

Gag Grouper Season Kicked Off in Gulf

Gag grouper season opened June 1st and will continue through December 31st according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Here is some information all about the Gag Grouper:

Location

It is in place from the shore to 9 nautical miles out for recreational fishing across most state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and across all federal waters in the gulf.

Limits

The minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The bag limit is two gag groupers per person. Recreational anglers targeting groupers in the Gulf may harvest no more than four groupers per person, per day (within this four-fish limit, anglers may keep only two gag grouper).

Appearance

The Gage Group is from the Mycteroperca microlepis family and the appearance is:

  • Color brownish-gray with dark worm-like markings on sides
  • Bottom of preopercle (cheek) has strong serrated spur
  • Fins are dark, with white edges on anal fin and tail
  • Dark lines radiate from the eyes
  • Gag groupers are most easily identified by their gray body color and darker markings shaped like kisses.
  • Male gags over 32 inches long may develop a dark, rusty-colored, wide strip on their undersides, and are often referred to as “copperbellies”.

Habitat

Coastal waters near structure such as rocky bottoms, drop-off walls and reefs in water over 60 feet deep. Juveniles found in seagrass beds and estuaries. They are found in areas of hard or consolidated substrate, and use structural features, such as ledges, rocks, and coral reefs (as well as artificial reefs, such as wrecks and sunken barges) as their habitats. 

Adult gags are found in waters 60 to 250 feet deep and occasionally to over 500 feet deep. They show a strong attraction to some sort of bottom relief, such as rocks, reefs, shipwrecks and offshore oil and gas platforms.

Size

Ten- to 20-pound fish are common. 

World Record

The world record is 80 lb. 6 oz. caught near Destin, FL.

Catch

Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring group to the surface. Live fish or dead cut or whole bat are used. The gag grouper is a bottom feeder and is often caught by fishermen seeking bottom-dwelling species. 

Diet

They feed on fishes and invertebrates. Gags are highly piscivorous, meaning that they like to eat fish rather than crustaceans and other creatures. Finfish make up 95 to 98 percent of their diet. Especially heavily consumed are Spanish sardines, pinfish, mullet and round scad. Porgies and jacks are also commonly eaten. Crabs are the most common invertebrates in their diet.

Meat

It is flaky white meat and considered quite delicious. There are a ton of great recipes for Grouper.

Protogynous Hermaphrodite

Members of this species are known to be protogynous hermaphrodites, schooling in harems with the most aggressive and largest females shifting sex to male, probably as a result of behavioral triggers, when no male is available. Gags, like most if not all other grouper species, are protogynous hermaphrodites. Protogynous means “female first,” and true to the description, all gags are hatched as females. After hatching, the tiny baby groupers are carried into nearshore and inshore waters by currents. Many spend their first summer on oyster reefs, feeding on small shrimp and other creatures. When seen by anglers, few recognize them as small groupers, not associating groupers with inshore waters.

Looking for a fun and exciting day on the water? Look no further than Clearwater Inshore Fishing owned and operated by Captain Brain Mathay. Book your fishing charter today or call at 727-667-8291.