Saturday, February 24, 2018
Outdoors

Outdoors news and notes: Red snapper season is open; free fishing days

Making news

REd Snapper season lasts just 40 days

The harvest season for red snapper opened this morning, but anglers better catch them while the catching is good. Federal officials predict recreational anglers will fill their quota by July 11 when the season will shut down again at 12:01 a.m.

Here on Florida's central gulf coast you have to travel about 30 miles offshore to catch these prized sport fish. Anglers may keep two fish per day, 16 inches or longer.

But before you head offshore, consider helping the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in an ongoing study of red snapper and other reef fish. FWC biologists have been distributing survey cards at public areas, including boat ramps, piers and marinas.

If any angler catches a red snapper, regardless of the time of year, he can use the card to note where the snapper was caught and, if appropriate, released, as well as the type of equipment used, the size of the fish and its condition.

Fisheries researchers and managers use the data to assess the status of the recreational fishery. To request a postage-paid survey card in the mail, email your name and address to [email protected] You can also download a data sheet at myfwc.com/research/salt water. Click on "Recreational Fisheries" and select the article "FWC enlists anglers to assist reef fish studies."

Anglers can call in a report if they catch a tagged grouper or snapper. Since 2009, state biologists have been tagging and releasing fish to evaluate their post-catch survival. The yellow or orange tags are near the dorsal fin of the fish, and each tag has a unique number printed on the side.

If you catch a tagged fish, call the Angler Tag Return Hotline toll-free at 1-800-367-4461. Note the species, tag number, date and time of capture, catch location, fish length, type of bait used and whether the fish was kept or released. If the fish is to be released, leave the tag on.

Free fishing days

Grab your fishing gear and head to the nearest pier. Florida officials have scheduled more free fishing days. You won't need a saltwater license, just a rod, reel and bait if you go Saturday.

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has spread out the opportunities this year so more people can take advantage of the free fishing days on the state's lakes, rivers or saltwater destinations. Make note of these free fishing Saturdays in 2012: June 9 for freshwater and Sept. 1 for saltwater.

Send your outdoors news to Terry Tomalin at [email protected] or call (727) 893-8808.

Solunar table

AM PM

minor major minor major

6/1 3:00 9:10 3:20 9:40

6/2 3:55 10:05 4:15 10:35

6/3 4:50 11:00 5:10 11:40

6/4 5:55 0 6:15 12:05

6/5 6:50 12:35 7:20 1:10

6/6 7:55 1:45 8:30 2:15

6/7 8:55 2:45 9:25 3:10

Comments

Captainís Corner: Cobia moving into bay ahead of schedule

Rapidly increasing water temperatures have migratory fish moving toward the bay area. Typically, schools of coastal pelagic fish such as cobia and mackerel do not return until late March. This year, they are way ahead of schedule. Cobia are one of th...
Published: 02/23/18

Captainís Corner: Rising temperatures fire up the bite

With no cold fronts rolling into the bay area soon, it also means water temperatures are on the rise to the mid 70s. That has the bite fired up inshore and nearshore. Snook fishing is on fire with these warmer temperatures at night. Weíve been findin...
Published: 02/22/18

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18

Captainís Corner: Topwater plugs a great option as warming trend continues

Warm weather for the past week has led to an increase in feeding activity for inshore fish species. Speckled trout have been venturing out of deep holes and channels and back into shallow water to feed. This has presented a great opportunity to fish ...
Published: 02/10/18
Updated: 02/11/18