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Archive for April, 2016

Reboot the Fishing Calendar–Capt. Ray Markham, April 22, 2016

by on Apr.23, 2016, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Most years I’d be looking at the calendar on my computer about now and I’d be thinking that we should be getting toward the tail end of kingfish season. This year has been different. It seems we have had a blast of fish running up from the south just this week. Sure kings will be around most of the year, but when the spring run is on, usually fish come from the Key’s northward in waves as waters warm. But this past winter was quite warm, so I might have expected an early run with an earlier ending to the bulk of the fish migrating north.

Usually about mid-March I start seeing tarpon moving out of the Manatee River and backcountry waters. These are mostly resident fish that spend winters as well as the rest of the year here. But I had not really seen that many fish. The real onslaught of poons traditionally shows up on the beaches in May. With only a week or so away from May, I’ve finally seen a decent showing of tarpon. Much of last week and the weekend had been difficult fishing due to high winds, but once the winds laid down, we started to see some tarpon roll. This early showing could have something to do with the fact that the full moon falls on Thursday, April 21st. Migrations of fish as well as spawning rituals are known to occur around full moons and new moons. So, if I was glancing at the fish calendar trying to see what should be going on, things might be a bit out of whack.

A look at the calendar on April 30, the last day of the month, will reveal that it’s the last day of snook season. Snook on the West Coast close for the summer. But with the full moon on the 21st, that out of whack calendar may see some snook spawning in the passes. That would be nearly a month early, but as a rule, snook begin spawning from around the full moon in May and run through September. However, with as many big snook as I’ve seen near the passes and on barrier islands over the past couple of weeks, I wouldn’t doubt it if these linesiders just might be lining up to begin an early spawn.

One change on the calendar for May 1 in the northwest region of the state is that the redfish bag limit will drop back to one fish per angler from two fish, with an 8 fish boat limit. The region south of Fred Howard Park, called the south region, remains as one fish per person but with an 8 fish boat limit as well.

Prime time for mangrove snapper is generally around June or July, but how about all the big mangos doing the tango in Tampa Bay right now? Just a short hop off the beaches and now you’re into 5-pound mangos in April!

Yes, it’s April, and yes, the fishing calendar seems a bit messed up. But the next time you pull up an old boot while fishing, throw it back, because it’s time for a re-boot.

Capt. Ray Markham specializes in fly and light tackle fishing with artificial lures, charters out of the Tampa Bay area, and may be reached via his website at www.CaptainRayMarkham.com, email at ray.markham@gmail.com, or at (941) 723-2655 for charter.

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Redfish daily bag limit in Natural North Florida’s Big Bend/Emerald Coast to change to 1 fish per person May 1. 2016

by on Apr.14, 2016, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

davesharonmearsOn May 1, 2016, the individual bag limit for redfish (red drum) will drop from 2 fish to 1 fish on Florida’s Big Bend (Pasco County to the Alabama line).  The FWC’s Northwest Zone is affected, as shown on the map below:

red drum management zones map

From: myfwc.com

Red drum, also called redfish, channel bass, spottail, red bass or reds, are one of Florida’s most popular sport fish and the state’s most widespread estuarine fish. Red drum are named after the “drumming” sound the make during spawning and when taken out of the water. The sound is produced by muscles rubbing against the inflated air bladder. Red drum inhabit the nearshore and offshore waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Key West. Juvenile red drum inhabit rivers, bays, canals, tidal creeks, and passes in estuaries for up to four years, after which they usually move to nearshore or open ocean waters as adults. Red drum in Florida can reach lengths of 45 inches and weigh up to 51 pounds. The world record red drum was caught off North Carolina waters in 1984 and it weighed 94 pounds, 2 ounces.The oldest recorded red drum in Florida was aged at 40 years. Floating a live shrimp under a popping cork is a good way to fish for red drum. They also chase crabs, mullet, pinfish and killifish (mud minnows). Casting soft-bodied jigs, spoons and even top-water plugs will catch the attention of these powerful estuarine musicians. Redfish make great table fare.

Management of red drum in Florida is considered a success story.  In the late 1980s red drum was overfished, thus several emergency closures were established to reduce fishing pressure. In 1989, the slot limit of 18-27 inches, the bag limit of one fish per person and a closed season from March-May were put in place. Since then, the only major regulation change has been the elimination of the closed season. Red drum stocks have rebounded and are currently meeting or exceeding the FWC’s management goal of 40% escapement in most parts of Florida. Escapement is the proportion of fish that survive through age four relative to the fish that would have survived if there was no fishery.

Regulations Northeast Zone Northwest Zone South Zone
Minimum Size Limit Not less than 18″ no more than 27″ total length
Daily Bag Limit 2 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit 2 per person per day (changing to 1 per person per day starting May 1); 8 fish vessel limit 1 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit
Remarks Bag limits apply in areas adjacent to fishing sites such as docks and parking lots

6 fish per person transport limit applies when traveling in a vehicle on land away from a fishing site.

Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore

Commercial harvest prohibited

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