The snapper-grouper complex in the South Atlantic includes 59 species, as determined by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Rules for catch and release are complicated. If anglers don’t employ a professional guide, they should be familiar with them (visit safmc.net). Here are a few of the most applicable regulations:
• Many species are off limits year round because of low numbers, as determined by the SAFMC. Different recreational tackle rules also apply for some species.
• The grouper creel limit is three fish per angler per day, but only one gag, one black and one snowy are allowed in the daily creel. However, only one snowy per vessel is legal, not one per angler. Gag and black groupers must be a minimum of 24 inches long, while reds and yellowfins must measure at least 20 inches.
• Possession of goliath, nassau and warsaw groupers is prohibited, along with red snappers and speckled hinds.
• Amberjacks must be at least 28 inches in length, and only one per day may be kept. Most anglers along the South Atlantic don’t eat amberjacks because their flesh is imbedded by worms. However, they are consumed at other coastal regions, particularly Gulf Coast states.
• Circle hooks (non-stainless steel) must be used when fishing natural baits for snapper-grouper complex species. However, artificial lures don’t require circle hooks.