FWC’s monthly newsletter for September, Fishing in the Know, is available for viewing
The September 2016 issue of the Fishing in the Know
newsletter from FWC is available now. To view and/or download a copy of the newsletter, click here
An Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Marine Resources, the new edition of Fishing Lines is now available
This guide was developed by FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management Outreach and Education Program as an educational tool to provide the public with information about Florida’s marine resources.
This publication includes articles about marine angling, important habitats, saltwater fishes and state efforts to enhance marine resources. Information is also included about fisheries management in Florida, the importance of catch and release, where money comes from and where it goes and that’s just the first half of the guide.
The second half of Fishing Lines has a field guide to help anglers and the public identify some of the many fish species that live in Florida’s marine and estuarine waters. Illustrations and descriptions for 145 species are included in the Identification Section.
Note: The guide is an excellent source of fishing-related information and is recommended reading for anyone interested in Florida’s marine resources.
To download a copy of the guide, click here.
The recreational harvest of Atlantic snook in state and federal waters reopened on September 1, 2016
The recreational harvest of snook in Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, reopened on September 1 and will close on December 15.
During the open season, the daily bag limit is one fish per person. In the Atlantic, snook must be not less than 28 inches and not more than 32 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side.
When releasing a snook, proper handling methods can help ensure your fish’s survival and the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about catch-and-release and the best way to handle a fish, click here.
A snook permit, as well as a recreational saltwater license, is required unless the angler is exempt from the recreational license requirements. Snook may be targeted or harvested with hook and line gear only. Snagging is prohibited.
Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. These carcasses provide biological data, including the size, age, maturity and sex of the catch. This information is important to the FWC in completing stock assessments. For the county-by-county list of participating locations, click here.
If you see a snook fishery violation, call the Wildlife Alert Program at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Bringing fish back from the Bahamas became easier on September 13
Bringing fish caught recreationally in the Bahamas back to Florida by water became a little easier recently. A new exception went into effect September 13 in state waters, allowing anglers to possess and land filleted dolphin, wahoo and reef fish that were caught in Bahamian waters. Similar allowances for dolphin and wahoo, as well as modifications to existing recreational regulations for reef fish managed as snapper-grouper being brought back from the Bahamas by water went into effect in Atlantic federal waters in January 2016. These regulations apply to fish being transported by water only and do not apply to fish being transported or shipped by air.
The changes will allow more fishing freedom for Florida’s residents and visitors while creating consistency between state and federal regulations.
Some requirements to keep in mind when bringing recreationally-caught dolphin, wahoo and reef fish managed as snapper-grouper back from the Bahamas by water include:
- skin must remain on the fillet (to aid in identification by law enforcement);
- anglers must comply with Atlantic federal bag and vessel limits;
- two fillets count as one fish toward the bag limit;
- vessels must have valid Bahamian cruising and sport-fishing permits;
- passengers must possess a valid government passport with current Bahamian stamps and travel dates;
- travel through state waters must be continuous and gear must remain stowed which means terminal tackle, such as hooks, leaders, sinkers, etc., must be disconnected and stowed separately from the rod and reel; and
- fish landed under these conditions cannot be sold.
Bahamian regulations may be different than those in U.S. state and federal waters. Before you return with your catch, make sure you comply with the more restrictive U.S. and Bahamian recreational bag and possession limits. For example, species that are prohibited from harvest in the U.S., such as queen conch, goliath and Nassau grouper, cannot be transported back into U.S. waters by boat. Spiny lobster must be in whole condition and can only be transported into U.S. waters during the recreational season (August 6 through March 31).
To learn more about bringing your Bahamian catch back to Florida, click here. To learn more about the Federal fishing regulations for bringing fish back from the Bahamas, click here.
FWC approves management changes for mutton snapper effective January 1, 2017
At the September meeting in St. Augustine, the FWC approved several management measures to mutton snapper in Atlantic state waters. The management measures going into effect January 1, 2017, include (1) increasing the recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits from 16 to 18 inches and (2) reducing the recreational bag limit to 5-fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit.
To learn more, click here.
FWC approves management measures for Atlantic gray triggerfish management measures approved at FWC meeting
At the September meeting in St. Augustine, the FWC approved several management measures to gray triggerfish in Atlantic state waters. Temporary gray triggerfish changes were put into effect in November 2015 and set to expire in October 2016. The approved changes for gray triggerfish will put these temporary changes into rule as long-term management measures. These measures include (1) reducing the recreational minimum size limit in Atlantic state waters to 12 inches fork length, (2) reducing the statewide importation and sale minimum size limit to 12 inches fork length; and (3) creating a recreational bag limit of 10 fish per person in Atlantic state waters.
To learn more, click here.
Snook population is on the rise
FWC took immediate action to help the snook population rebound after a prolonged cold spell in January 2010. The cold snap, which led FWC to close the fisheries, had a much greater effect on the snook population on the Gulf Coast than it did on the Atlantic Coast. The Atlantic fishery was closed for nine months while the Gulf fishery remained closed until September 2013.
The latest stock assessment shows that catch rates for the snook populations have returned to pre-cold event levels. The quick recovery demonstrates that FWC’s conservative management strategies resulted in abundant snook populations prior to the cold snap and that this large biomass was useful in population resilience. During the closure, spawning occurred without the threat of fishing mortality. As a result the number of young snook multiplied and adult snook grew larger.
FWC manages snook in the Gulf differently than it does snook in the Atlantic because of their genetic differences and separate life history patterns. Snook from the Gulf typically inhabit a single estuary for their entire lives, while snook from the Atlantic migrate much greater distances. Snook species found in Florida are located at the northern limit of their thermal range. They can experience thermal stress when water temperatures decline in the winter months.
For more information on snook, click here and here.
FWC Angler Recognition Programs
FWC’s Saltwater Grand Slam program is conducted in collaboration with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). A Saltwater Grand Slam is defined as the catch or catching and releasing of three different species in a 24-hour period. All Saltwater Grand Slam catches, past and present, are eligible as long as they can be documented and have been caught in a 24-hour period and in accordance with FWC and IGFA rules. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible, and are strongly encouraged to release their catches alive.
Photographs are required and may be used in various FWC publications as well as MyFWC.com. Fill out the application and mail with photos to: IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, FL 33004 or email: HQ@igfa.org.
Each time an angler gets a Saltwater Grand Slam, they will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a t-shirt with the fish from that slam on it. There will be eight slams plus a Small Fry Slam for children 15 and under.
For more information on the various grand slam categories, click here.
New state permit allows mackerel tournaments to donate catch to benefit charity
With just a no-cost permit, mackerel tournament directors can donate tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel to a licensed wholesale dealer in exchange for a donation to the charity of the tournament’s choice. While this activity has traditionally occurred at mackerel tournaments in Florida, recent federal regulation changes prohibited the activity unless a state permit was issued.
In addition to helping tournaments raise funds for charity, this permit will help minimize waste of tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel that otherwise may not have been eaten. FWC approved the creation of this permit at its June 2015 meeting in Sarasota.
Donated fish can be caught in state or federal waters and would have to be handled and iced in accordance with seafood safety standards. Wholesale dealers must be onsite during the weigh-in to obtain the tournament-caught fish. The fish would also have to be identified as tournament catch on commercial trip tickets.
This permit will ensure that tournament-caught fish are not counted toward both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas. Although fish are recreationally caught, they enter the commercial market once donated to a wholesale dealer. Preventing these fish from being double-counted in both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas ensures more accurate landings data and prevents possible negative impacts to the commercial fishery, such as early season closures.
For more information or to apply for a permit, click here.
Discarded monofilament line injures and kills wildlife
Fishing is an important part of the Florida lifestyle as well as its economy. To ensure that this activity doesn’t lead to problems for birds and other wildlife, the FWC wants anglers to know about the potential hazards and sure-fire solutions. FWC warns that monofilament fishing line and fishing hooks can snag and entangle birds, sea turtles and manatees, leading to injury and even death.
For more information on the statewide Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program, click here.