Friday, February 23, 2018
Outdoors

Outdoors news and notes: Tarpon, snook among species up for special status consideration in Florida

Making news

officials seek input on status for Select fish

Tarpon and snook are two of Florida's most popular species among recreational anglers. But should they be given special status? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will host a series of "webinars" to gather public input on sport fish and game fish status for these and other popular saltwater fish.

These online events, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 12, are free and open to the public. But because the same topic will be discussed on both dates, state biologists ask that interested parties only register and participate in one webinar, which can be found at fwc.adobeconnect.com/mfm.

Suggested parameters for "game fish" include no commercial harvest, possession or sale; fish could only be targeted with hook and line; and captain and crew of for-hire vessels such as charter boats would have a bag limit of zero. Species that may get game fish designation include snook, red drum (redfish) and spotted seatrout.

The "sport fish" designation, as proposed, would offer a higher level of protection than game fish by including no recreational harvest as well as no commercial harvest, possession or sale and targeting sport fish only with hook and line. Tarpon could become a catch-and-release-only fishery if new rules under consideration by the FWC are adopted. Other species that could get sport fish designation include bonefish, permit and billfish.

Florida has game fish rules for several species of freshwater fish, including largemouth bass, but no similar designation for saltwater species. In most states, game fish status means no commercial sale or harvest. Game fish laws vary from state to state along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Texas lists 12 species of game fish, including red drum, sailfish, marlin and tarpon. Louisiana, however, lists just three species: red drum, sailfish and marlin.

Tarpon, one of the most important recreational species in Florida, already currently enjoy an advanced degree of protection. State law requires that anglers who want to "possess or harvest" a tarpon must buy a tag for $50. During the 2011-12 fiscal year anglers purchased 375 tags but, according to the FWC, just six tarpon were kept.

Anglers who come to Florida in search of a world record need not worry. The International Game Fish Association has developed rules for anglers who want to release fish yet have their catches considered for world records. For example, measurements of length and girth can be calculated to give an estimated weight.

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

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Comments

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

Captainís Corner: Sardines make a great bait

Bait has made its way into the bay and the fish have been eating sardines with violent strikes. Look deep for bait, most of it has been in 20-plus feet of water. A little knowledge of how to read a bottom machine will help you secure the prized sardi...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/10/18