BRADENTON – Finally! After three years of waiting, the FWCC has opened up snook season! Yay! However, the same week they approved a proposal to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries and moved forward with a proposal to modify the types of gear used to target tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, which has some locals up in arms. Winds are expected to remain weak during the week with relatively flat seass; most shower and thunderstorm activity will remain over land areas the next few days. So anglers are encouraged to start tarpon fishing while it's hot!
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reviewed and discussed the current status of snook populations in Gulf and Atlantic waters at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland before deciding to allow the recreational harvest of Gulf of Mexico snook to reopen this September.
The harvest of snook in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters has been closed since early 2010, when a cold snap negatively impacted the population, particularly juvenile snook. In 2012, the Commission extended the temporary closure through Aug. 31, 2013, in an effort to further protect this important species and give it time to recover more fully from the cold snap.
The FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute confirms that Gulf snook were affected by the cold weather of 2010. Once reopened, the stock should continue to rebuild within a relatively short time to 2010 stock levels, thanks to management efforts such as regular closed seasons and the slot limit, which protects both juveniles and the more productive larger fish.
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.
Learn more on this presentation by visiting MyFWC.com/Commission and clicking on “Commission Meetings” and “Agenda.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, approved a proposal to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries and moved forward with a proposal to modify the types of gear used to target tarpon in Boca Grande Pass.
This catch-and-release proposal was adopted in recognition of the fact that the economic and fishing value of bonefish and tarpon greatly exceed their value as food fishes.
The following changes will go into effect Sept. 1 in state and federal waters off Florida:
- 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.
- People 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 also approved modifying the tarpon tag program by eliminating the current reporting requirements and shifting the start and end date for when the tarpon tag is valid from July through June to a calendar year, January through December. These rules will be changed in FWC code and will go into effect Sept. 1.
- The Commission 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.
- To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings” and “Agenda.”
High pressure ridging across the waters from the Atlantic will begin to weaken and slide east as a weak frontal boundary approaches North Florida Thursday. This boundary lingers in place through Saturday then lifts north as the Atlantic high builds back west with an axis north of the waters.
South winds around 10 knots then becoming southwest in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Scattered thunderstorms.Thursday night will bring west winds around 10 knots then becoming northeast around 5 knots after midnight. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Isolated thunderstorms.
East winds around 5 knots then becoming west around 5 knots in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters smooth. Scattered thunderstorms. Friday night will bring east winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening.
Northeast winds around 5 knots. Bay and inland waters smooth. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning then scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Saturday night will bring northeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening.
Northeast winds around 5 knots in the morning then becoming variable less than 5 knots. Bay and inland waters smooth. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning then scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Sunday night will bring east winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Isolated thunderstorms.