Reef Fish Gear Rules for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Regulations:

  • Dehooking Device Requirement: A dehooking device is required to be rigged and ready for use when fishing for reef fish.
  • Venting or Descending Device: A venting tool or descending device must be rigged and ready for use.
  • Circle Hooks: All individuals aboard a vessel must use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks when using natural baits to fish for reef fish.

Atlantic Ocean Reef Fish Regulations:

  • Dehooking Device Requirement: Similar to the Gulf, a dehooking device is necessary and ready for use when targeting reef fish.
  • Venting or Descending Device: A venting tool or descending device must also be ready for use.
  • Circle Hooks:
    • North of 28 degrees N latitude: Non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks are required when using natural baits from a vessel.
    • South of 28 degrees N latitude: Non-stainless steel hooks are required.

Species Applicability:

  • These rules apply to all members of the reef fish complex, including but not limited to:
    • Groupers
    • Snappers
    • Amberjacks
    • Red Porgy
    • Gray Triggerfish
    • Black Sea Bass
    • Golden Tilefish
    • Banded Rudderfish
    • Speckled Hind
  • For a comprehensive species list and more detailed regulations, visit

Hook-and-Line Gear Regulations

Attending to Gear:

  • Active Tending: Hook-and-line anglers are required to actively tend their gear at all times. This is to prevent accidental injuries or entanglements to people, marine life, and shore life caused by unattended lines or hooks.

Environmental Protection:

  • Monofilament Disposal: It's illegal to intentionally discard any monofilament netting or line into or onto state waters. Monofilament line poses significant risks as it can entangle and harm birds, marine mammals, turtles, and fish.

Trot Lines:

  • Regulations: Trot lines with 10 or fewer hooks are classified under hook-and-line gear and must be actively tended while deployed. This ensures immediate response in case any non-target species are caught.

Multi-Hooks with Natural Baits:

  • Prohibition for Certain Species: For species identified with a "T" on season-specific pages, the use of multi-hooks (a single hook with two or more points) in conjunction with natural baits is prohibited. This measure is likely aimed at reducing unintentional harm to specific targeted species and ensuring ethical angling practices.

Recreational Net Usage Regulations in Florida Waters

Types of Nets and Specifications:

  1. Bully Nets (for Lobster):

    • Maximum Diameter: No greater than 3 feet.
    • Material: Must not be made of monofilament.
  2. Frame Nets and Push Nets (for Shrimp):

    • Maximum Perimeter: No greater than 16 feet.
    • Material: Must not be made of monofilament.
    • Restriction: Frame nets cannot be used in state waters off Dade County.
  3. Hand-Held Landing or Dip Nets:

    • Maximum Perimeter: No greater than 96 inches.
  4. Cast Nets:

    • Maximum Length: 14 feet or less stretched length (distance from the horn at the center of the net with the net gathered and pulled taut, to the lead line).
  5. Beach or Haul Seines:

    • Maximum Mesh Area: No larger than 500 square feet.
    • Maximum Mesh Size: No larger than 2 inches stretched mesh size.
    • Material: Not constructed of monofilament.
    • Marking: Legibly marked at both ends with the harvester’s name and address if a Florida resident. Non-residents must have a commercial saltwater products license and mark the seine with the license number.

Usage Regulations:

  • Permitted Species for Harvest with Nets: Only specific species may be harvested with cast nets and seines, including black drum, bluefish, cobia, flounder, mullet, Florida pompano, red drum, sheepshead, shrimp, Spanish mackerel, weakfish, and unregulated species.
  • Number of Nets: No more than two nets can be fished from any vessel and no more than one net can be fished by any person not on a vessel.


  • Explosives and Powerheads: The use of powerheads, explosives, chemicals, or the discharge of firearms to kill or harvest marine life is strictly prohibited in state waters.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.