The state of Florida is allowing the fishing of redfish, snook and trout for the first time since the Red Tide crisis took hold in July.
The change was made this week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which had mandated catch-and-release status in the waters of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Those species can now be fished in both counties, and the waters around Manatee County north of State Road 64. The order also covers the Braden River and all tributaries of the Manatee River. However, some limits remain in place for harvesting redfish, snook and trout south of SR 64 through Gordon Pass in Collier County.
While redfish, trout and snook are staples of Tampa Bay’s fishing stocks, there have been limits placed on harvesting them since the 2017-19 Red Tide crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa Bay anglers had to catch and release some fish starting in September 2018. Limits were lifted in May 2021 but re-imposed weeks later because of new Red Tide blooms and the resulting fish kills.
The state imposed the restrictions July 16 to try to protect some saltwater fish populations that were dying in Tampa Bay and off the Pinellas coast. The coastlines of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas beaches were flooded with dead fish and debris. The county reported cleaning up a total of nearly 1,800 tons from its shore.
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Red Tide coverage
Tampa Bay has Red Tide questions. Here are some answers.
Is it safe to eat seafood? Here’s how Red Tide affects what you eat.
Can I go fishing? The state is limiting saltwater fishing.
Piney Point: The environmental disaster may be fueling Red Tide.
Red Tide resources
• The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a website that tracks where Red Tide is detected.
• Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline to report illnesses, including from exposure to Red Tide: 1-800-222-1222
• To report dead fish for clean-up in Tampa Bay, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-636-0511 or file a fish kill report online.
• In St. Petersburg, call the Mayor’s Action Center at 727-893-7111 or use St. Petersburg’s seeclickfix website.
• Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the county’s tourism wing, runs an online beach dashboard at www.beachesupdate.com.
How to stay safe near the water
• Do not swim around dead fish.
• Those with chronic respiratory problems should be careful and stay away from places with a Red Tide bloom. Leave if you think Red Tide is affecting you.
• Do not harvest or eat mollusks or distressed and dead fish from the area. Fillets of healthy fish should be rised with clean water, and the guts thrown out.
• Pet owners should keep their animals away from the water and from dead fish.
• Residents living near the beach should close their windows and run air conditioners with proper filters.
• Beachgoers can protect themselves by wearing masks.
Source: Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County