BRADENTON – Two license free fishing days will take place over the holidays. Florida manatees are beginning their annual migration to warmer waters, which is their instinctual response to winter’s approach and surviving the cold. A tarpon statewide snagging definition and changes in gear rules in Boca Grande Pass took effective on November 1. Atlantic vermilion snapper season will remain open this fall and the FWC is reporting that green sea turtles nest at unprecedented pace in Florida this year.
Holidays bring fishing bonuses
- Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and for many people represents their only four-day holiday. So what better time to offer license-free fishing days? Friday, Nov. 29, will be a license-free freshwater fishing day, followed by a saltwater license-free day on Nov. 30.
- To round out the gift-giving, Saturday, Dec. 28, was also designated as a license-free freshwater fishing day.
- In 2013, the Legislature authorized the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to offer four additional license-free fishing days annually. FWC Commissioners subsequently implemented a long-term strategy to encourage introducing new anglers to recreational fishing, and to give those who haven’t been fishing recently another incentive to enjoy time on the water. Since the dates for some of these long-term options had already passed in 2013, they also picked the one-time-only dates mentioned above to make sure anglers got all the free-days the Legislature authorized.
Watch out for manatees migrating to warmer waters
- Florida manatees are beginning their annual migration to warmer waters, which is their instinctual response to winter’s approach and surviving the cold.
- As these slow-moving aquatic mammals migrate along rivers, canals, bays and coastlines, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to slow down and watch out for manatees. The average adult manatee is 1,000 pounds and 10-feet long but may be difficult to spot despite its size.
Tarpon statewide snagging definition, gear rules in Boca Grande Pass changes effective Nov. 1
- Changes that will add language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modify what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass will go into effect Nov. 1.
- These changes will provide further protection for this iconic fish.
- The first part of the adopted changes includes adding language to the snagging definition to prohibit catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed to strike an angler’s gear. This change will apply to tarpon fishing statewide. The current definition for snagging or snatch-hooking is the intentional catch of a fish by any device intended to impale or hook the fish by any part of its body other than the mouth. Adding language specifying that gear must entice the fish to strike with, and become hooked in, its mouth will help further protect tarpon from the act of snagging.
- The second part of the changes prohibits fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod (see photo below). This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass.
Reminder: Atlantic vermilion snapper season will remain open this fall
- Atlantic vermilion snapper will remain open to recreational harvest this fall in both state and federal waters now that the season closure has been eliminated. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission eliminated the annual Nov. 1 through March 31 closure at the September Commission meeting. The Nov. 1 through March 31 closure in federal waters was eliminated earlier this year.
- Vermilion snapper populations have improved thanks to successful state and federal fishery management. In 2008, the Atlantic vermilion snapper population was considered to be undergoing overfishing, which means more fish were being removed from the population than was considered sustainable. At the time, state and federal fishery managers implemented several management changes, including bag limit reductions and the five-month season closure for the recreational fishery. A 2012 stock assessment revealed these management actions were successful in rebuilding vermillion snapper numbers. Removing the closure will positively benefit recreational anglers by providing additional fishing opportunities.
Green sea turtles nest at unprecedented pace in Florida this year
- The number of green sea turtle nests in Florida this year was more than double the count of the previous highest year. Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have documented more than 25,000 green turtle nests on 26 index beaches in the state in 2013.“Gulf Snapper.”
High pressure ridging in over the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic tonight will pull away to the east Thursday as a cold front approaches from the northwest. The front stalls out and weakens over central Florida waters late Thursday night and Friday...as high pressure settles in along the Gulf Coast. The high builds in behind the front as it moves eastward during the weekend and Monday with the front sagging across southern Florida waters. Another round of higher wind speeds are expected in the wake of the front with a combination caution or advisory headlines required at times.
North winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Thursday night will bring north winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Isolated showers.
Northeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. Isolated showers in the afternoon. Friday night will bring northeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop.
Northeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. A slight chance of showers. Saturday night will bring northeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. A slight chance of showers.
Northeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. A slight chance of showers. Sunday night will bring northeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop.