South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Grouper, Graysby

Grouper, Graysby

Cephalopholis cruentata
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

The Graysby is a smaller species of grouper. They vary from pale gray to dark brown; has many darker orangish, red-brown spots on its body, fins, and chin. There are three to five distinctive marks, like pale or dark spots, that run along the base of the dorsal fin. A white line runs between the eyes from the nape to the lower lip. The spots change color, either growing pale or darkening in contrast with the body. The tail is more rounded than in similar species. There are 9 spines and 14 rays in the soft dorsal fin, compared to 15 to 17 rays in the closely related coney.

Range from North Carolina to the northern Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil; common in southern Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean and are also found in Bermuda. Found in small ledges and caves in coral beds. Reefs are preferred since they blend with the surroundings at depths between 10 and 60 feet.

Regulations

NC, SC, GA, FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • Season Closed: January 01, 2023 – April 30, 2023
  • 3 Aggregate Limit
  • 3 Bag Limit
  • Notes:

    No minimum size limit.

    Must be landed with head and fins intact. A descending device is required on board all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper and grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic. The descending device must be readily available for use and attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line. Get more information at Best Fishing Practices Webpage

    If you are bringing fish back to the U.S. from the Bahamas by water, please see Bringing fish back from the Bahamas.

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    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats:

    • If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish.
    • If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species.
    • If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats must have the following on board:

    • the 2019 version of the NMFS document titled “Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury” (document may be electronic).
    • NMFS sea turtle handling and release guidelines placard
    • Required release and handling gears

    See Snapper Grouper Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Release Gear Requirements for more information.

    For more information on management of South Atlantic federal fisheries, please visit SAFMC or NOAA Fisheries.

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

  • Gear Description: Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. When fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic, the following regulations apply: (1) Use of a dehooking tool is required. (2) The use of non-stainless steel hooks is required when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. In waters North of 28-degrees N. latitude, the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper grouper species using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. (3) A descending device is required on board all vessels and must be readily available for use (attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line). See below for more details.

Amendments in progress

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