Sunday, December 10, 2017
Outdoors

State fishing group to address grouper regulations

When state officials meet in Havana, Fla., starting Tuesday for the first fishery management meeting of 2012, it is unlikely they will change course on grouper, one of the most heavily debated species in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is expected to follow the federal government's lead and adopt the same standards in state waters being proposed for federal ones, which begin 9 miles offshore.

Federal fishery managers say gag grouper, once a mainstay of deep-water anglers on the west coast of Florida, is "overfished and undergoing overfishing" — too many are being caught and there are too few left to reproduce in sufficient numbers.

In August, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved a long-term rebuilding plan for gag and red grouper. The species, although different in terms of health of stocks, are managed under the same plan because they are often caught together.

But while anglers will see an increase in the red grouper bag limit (two to four), regulations for gag grouper will become more restrictive. The state already prohibits the harvest of gag grouper in state waters during February and March. The federal government, however, is expected to establish a 123-day gag grouper season of July 1-Oct. 31.

Most gag grouper are caught in federal waters except during the winter months, when they move inshore to shallow water. If Florida fishery managers fail to adopt the federal standards, then it is likely the Gulf Council would shorten its season to account for the increased catch in state waters.

The FWC's staff has recommended it follow the federal lead. But if state officials don't, the gag season will open April 1.

To learn more, go to MyFWC.com.

Fishing Rally: Recreational and commercial fishermen will head to Washington on March 21 for another rally. Two years ago, thousands gathered for the first "United We Fish" rally, designed to shed light on what they called unfair regulatory measures.

The 2012 Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally hopes to again gather thousands concerned about the increasing influence of nonprofit groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Environmental Groups. For information, go to keepfishermenfishing.com.

Olympic update: Tampa Bay sailors racked up more wins at last month's Miami Olympic Classes Regatta on Biscayne Bay.

Clearwater's Zach Railey, 27, a silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics, finished first among 25 in the Finn. His sister Paige, 24, finished eighth among 60 in the Laser Radial.

The Raileys, who learned to sail at the Clearwater Yacht Club, will represent the United States at this summer's Olympics in England.

St. Petersburg's Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih finished seventh among 29 in the Star. They also will be part of the Olympic team.

Disabled sailors Jen French and J.P. Creignou of St. Petersburg took bronze in the SKUD-18. They will be part of the U.S. contingent at this summer's Paralympics. Another disabled sailor, Paul Callahan of Port Charlotte, who is coached by former St. Petersburg Sailing Center director Dave Ellis, made the U.S. team in the Sonar.

The Miami Olympic Class Regatta is one of seven World Cup events and only one in the United States. It drew nearly 500 sailors from more than 40 countries and was widely viewed as the precursor to the Olympics.

More sailing: The Clearwater Yacht Club will host the Laser Midwinters East Regatta, Feb. 22-26. More than 200 sailors from 16 countries are expected in the Gulf of Mexico off Big Pier 60.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: This is the month to target gag grouper

With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/04/17

Captainís Corner: Speckled sea trout can be easily caught on artificial lures

Speckled sea trout are one of the most reliable targets this time of year. Grass flats are usually empty because of extreme low tides. That causes higher concentrations of fish on the edges and in the deeper grass flats. No live bait is needed. A red...
Published: 12/01/17

Captainís Corner: Cooler weather lures decent gag grouper

Mild temperatures have allowed anglers to get out and explore many areas. Cooler weather has lured decent gag grouper. We expected them to arrive in the past month, and they havenít disappointed. Numerous rocks in 20- to 120-foot depths seem to be ho...
Published: 11/30/17

Captainís Corner: Donít have to go far offshore for grouper

When most anglers think of bottom fishing for grouper, they usually think that means taking a long run offshore. During late November and early December, grouper migrate close to shore, so a long run might not be necessary. There are times we target ...
Published: 11/28/17
Updated: 11/29/17