Those looking for a legal snook meal will get their chance starting Sept. 1. The FWC tells us that the population has rebounded to pre-2010 (big freeze) levels.
When the Gulf recreational harvest reopens Sept. 1, all bag limits, size limits, gear restrictions and closed seasons will be in effect. This includes the one-fish-per-person, per-day bag limit, the 28- to 33-inch total length slot limit and the two annual closures in Gulf waters, which are from Dec. 1 through the end of February and May 1 through Aug. 31.
The Atlantic recreational harvest of snook will also open Sept. 1. This season closes annually from June 1 through Aug. 31 and from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31. The slot limit for Atlantic harvest is 28 to 32 inches total length.
The next stock assessment for snook is scheduled for 2015 and let's hope for no more extreme global cooling as in 2010.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, approved a proposal to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries and have moved forward with a proposal to modify the types of gear used to target tarpon in Boca Grande Pass.
The following changes will go into effect Sept. 1:
All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
Tarpon tags will be limited to one per person, per year (except for charter boat captains).
Transport or shipment of tarpon becomes limited to one fish per person.
One fish per vessel limit is created for tarpon.
Gear used for tarpon will be limited to hook-and-line only.
Anglers will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.
Tarpon regulations will extend into federal waters.
The bonefish tournament exemption permit is eliminated. This exemption allows tournament anglers with the proper permit to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale.
The commission has also moved forward with a two-part proposal that would include adding language to the current statewide snagging definition and modifying what types of gear could be used to target tarpon in Boca Grande Pass. The proposal would add language that prohibits catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed by the angler's gear to the snagging definition that applies statewide. This change would apply to tarpon fishing statewide.
The second part of the proposal would prohibit fishing with gear that has a weight attached to the bottom of a hook. This change would apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass.
This proposal will be brought back for a final public hearing at the Sept. 4-6 meeting in Pensacola if you want to put in your two cents.
Florida has declared war on the lionfish. This beautiful but toxic nonnative fish is doing well here in Florida and having a negative impact on our fish population.
The lionfish has a "mane" of 3-10 inch toxic feathery spines that surround this alien looking interesting fish. If you get poked, its spines will release a very painful toxin into the wound which some folks find unbearable.
I owned a tropical fish importation business for 15 years and have handled many lionfish and been stung by a few over the years. The old island remedy works best which means holding the affected body part in super hot water which can prove to be quite the challenge if stung in the wrong spot.
If you catch one, do not attempt to handle it as they can be aggressive and can move its spines to try and impale you. The FWC encourages you to "remove" any lionfish you encounter.