Summer is upon us, which means grouper season is here. Grouper fishing in the Florida Keys and Key West is governed under the Atlantic grouper fishing regulations pursuant to Florida wildlife regulations.
Grouper fishing in the Florida Keys and Key West is open to recreational anglers from May 1st until December 31st. Note that there are some species of grouper that are open year round. However, the most common grouper species that Keys anglers are targeting are the Black Grouper, the Gag Grouper, and the Red Grouper. The May 1st through December 31st open season applies to those three species of Grouper.
Remember that fishing for reef fish, which the law considers grouper, requires one to use circle hooks and to have a de-hooking device. Make sure you are fishing with the appropriate gear, otherwise you may find yourself with a citation for fishing for grouper in the Florida Keys without the proper equipment.
The Black Grouper must measure 24 inches or larger to be a fish that can be kept during the Florida Keys and Key West fishing season.
The Gag Grouper must measure 24 inches or larger to be a fish that can be kept during the Florida Keys and Key West fishing season.
The Red Grouper must measure 20 inches or larger to be a fish that can be kept during the Florida Keys and Key West fishing season.
There is a daily aggregate bag limit per angler for grouper in the Florida Keys and Key West. Florida Keys anglers are permitted to keep up to three grouper per person when fishing in Florida Keys and Key West waters. However, note that only one Black or Gag grouper can be kept per person per day. That one black or gag counts towards the three grouper total aggregate max.
If you are accused of not following these regulations outlined while fishing for grouper, you could be issued a criminal citation. It is a very common misconception amongst our clients that they have just received a ticket. A citation for undersized or over the bag limit fish is not a simple ticket, it is a criminal violation. The officers could have taken you to jail for a second-degree misdemeanor. However, instead of taking you to jail, which is not very practical for marine law enforcement, they issue you a notice to appear in Court to answer for the criminal violation.
The penalties associated with possession of undersized of over the bag limit fishing violations are up to 60 days in jail and/or six months probation. If you have no criminal history, there is a good chance the criminal defense lawyers at Robertson & Hunter can negotiate a resolution in which the charges are ultimately dismissed. Additionally, the Key West criminal defense lawyers at Robertson & Hunter, can appear on your behalf if you are from out of town. For a misdemeanor fishing violation, there is a good chance this matter can be resolved without requiring you to come back to the Keys if you are indeed from out of town.