AMI Excursions Anna Maria Island Fishing Charters with Captain Nate Costello
A Very Grouper Season on Anna Maria Island with AMI Excursions and Captain Nate

A Very Grouper Season on Anna Maria Island

There are a lot of fish in the sea, and Anna Maria Island fishing boat charters reel in plenty of them. We have so many great fish to catch—and eat!—in our beautiful paradise. And, perhaps you’ve heard, one of the best Florida fish is grouper.

Grouper has it all. Namely, they’re super-fun to catch, and they taste delicious.

When it comes to winter fishing from AMI, we’re talking about gag grouper. And don’t let the name fool you, this is a delicious fish, and fishing for gag grouper make for an awesome AMI excursion. Here’s what you should know.

What’s the Difference Between Different Kinds of Grouper?

You’ll see just “grouper” a lot on AMI fishing charters and local menus alike. But what are they referring to?

Of the hundreds of different grouper species out there, Anna Maria Island fishing charters are most likely to encounter four predominant types: red grouper, scamp, black grouper, and gag grouper.

  • Red grouper account for the biggest percentage of the Florida grouper harvest, so it’s the species you’ll most likely see on menus.
  • Scamp grouper are usually the most prized flavor for grouper. They’re also smaller. So if you seem “scamp” specified on a seafood menu, it’s probably even more expensive than just general “grouper.”
  • Black grouper is a larger grouper species—both for weight, meat, and fight.
  • Gag grouper looks, tastes and fights very similarly to black grouper. There are distinguishing physical characteristics, and best of all, gag are the grouper we’ll catch a lot of on our deep sea fishing Anna Maria excursions this time of year.


Florida’s grouper all offer similar tastes and textures, which are sought-after by diners as well as chefs, especially here in Florida. Grouper have big, dense flakes and a mild flavor.

Catching Gag Grouper: AMI Offshore Fishing Charters

One of the biggest distinguishing features between gag grouper and these other species is their spawning season. Other grouper species spawn in late-spring and summer. But gag grouper (as well as the smaller scamp) spawn starting in January.

As the Gulf of Mexico cools down, gag come up out of the depths and onto the flats closer to shore. They’re looking for warmer waters, and they’re also getting ready to spawn. So they’re super-active and eager to strike all up and down offshore and inshore to Holmes Beach.

When we head out on AMI offshore fishing charters starting in November and heading all through the winter months, I expect gag grouper to be some of the most exciting catches we can hope for.

Gag grouper are bottom-dwellers (that’s why they taste so good: they eat a lot of rich-flavored crustaceans and squid down there). When they strike—sometimes out of nowhere—they immediately try to retreat back into their holes. So you have to reel big right off the bat to separate them from their safe spot.

Gags can live up to 30 years, and group up to 50 lbs. So imagine that on the line! These quick, heavy strikes and potentially big catches are what make gags so exciting to catch from an AMI fishing boat.

Want to Land a Gag? Book Your AMI Fishing Boat Charter Today!

As we like to say, the fishing is good year-round on Anna Maria Island. But if you’re interested in these great gag grouper catches, then now’s the time. Give me a ring at AMI Excursions!

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Article Written By

Nate Costello

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