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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: regulations

2017 bay scallop season in Dixie/Taylor counties set

by on Feb.11, 2017, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

The 2017 bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will be open from June 16 through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These changes are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.

These changes were discussed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting on Feb. 8, where staff was directed to work with local community leaders on selecting potential 2017 season dates and to adopt changes by executive order.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, staff also updated the Commission on the status of bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, and set a July 25 through Sept. 10 recreational bay scallop season off Gulf County, including all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

A prolonged red tide event in late 2015 negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay, which led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included a shortened season and reduced bag limits. FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. These efforts have been going well and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Staff will conduct similar restoration efforts in 2017.

All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

For more information on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

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Greater Amberjack Size Limit Change for Florida Waters of Gulf of Mexico, 2015

by on Jun.25, 2015, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) today approved changing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack caught in Gulf of Mexico state waters from 30 inches fork length to 34 inches fork length. Fork length is measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the center of the fork in the tail. This change will make state-water regulations in the Gulf consistent with pending federal regulation changes and will go into effect after federal regulations are approved. Recent stock assessments have indicated that greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished, which means there are not enough greater amberjack for the population to remain sustainable. They are also undergoing overfishing, which means more greater amberjack are being removed than is sustainable. Changing the minimum size limit will help ensure more greater amberjack are left in the water and have a chance to reproduce before being harvested. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then the “Agenda.” For information about recreational greater amberjack, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Amberjack.” -
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Four Florida Counties Open April 1, 2015 for Gag Grouper Harvest

by on Mar.25, 2015, under Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

From:  The Fishing Wire

State waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1.

This regional season will remain open through June 30, with the first day of the closure being July 1. The season also includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.

Gag grouper caught in state Gulf waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles out) off the four counties can be landed on the Gulf County side of Indian Pass and the Dixie County side of the Steinhatchee River, but may not be taken ashore in other areas that are closed to harvest. For example, a gag grouper caught April 1 in state waters off Jefferson County cannot be taken ashore in Levy County or parts of Dixie County outside of the Steinhatchee River. To see maps of these areas, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

In the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters, anglers will be able to keep gag grouper from July 1 through Dec. 3, with the season closing Dec. 4. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will not be open during the July-through-December season. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.

The season in all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico also opens July 1 but closes Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2.

In the Gulf, the gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size limit is 22 inches total length and the bag limit is two gag grouper per person. Recreational anglers targeting groupers in the Gulf may harvest no more than four grouper per person per day (within this four-fish limit, anglers may keep only two gag grouper).

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

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NOAA Fisheries Announces the 2015 Red Grouper Recreational Bag Limit will be Four Fish in Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters

by on Dec.23, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The 2015 Gulf of Mexico recreational red grouper bag limit will be 4 fish per person per day in federal waters beginning January 1, 2015, until further notice. In addition, the red grouper is part of the 4-fish grouper aggregate bag limit and has a minimum total length of 20 inches for the recreational sector. Red grouper is also included in an annual shallow-water grouper season closure from February 1 through March 31 when fishing beyond the 20-fathom depth contour. For regulation purposes, the 20-fathom depth contour is a series of point-to-point lines that approximate the 20-fathom depth contour. The specific coordinates for these lines are in 50 CFR 627.34.

In 2014, the red grouper bag limit was reduced from 4 fish to 3 fish because the recreational annual catch limit for red grouper was exceeded the previous year. This was a temporary change for 2014 only, intended to extend the 2014 fishing season. For 2015, the bag limit will revert back to 4 fish.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has proposed to set the red grouper recreational bag limit at 2 fish, and remove the accountability measure for the bag limit reduction when the annual catch limit is exceeded. If approved, the proposed changes are anticipated to be implemented in 2015.

Red grouper are excellent table fare--and are fun to catch!

Red grouper are excellent table fare–and are fun to catch!

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Florida Amberjack, Gray Triggerfish to Close June 1, 2014 in Gulf

by on May.28, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The recreational harvest of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) closes June 1 and will remain closed through July 31, reopening Aug. 1. In federal Gulf waters, greater amberjack will also be closed June 1 through July 31. Gray triggerfish closed in Gulf federal waters May 1 and will remain closed through Dec. 31. Seasonal harvest closures help conserve Florida’s valuable greater amberjack and gray triggerfish populations and improve these fisheries for the future. Learn more about recreational fishing at www.MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.” – See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/319923#sthash.mqauTdD0.dpuf
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Red Snapper Recreational Regulations for state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, 2014

by on May.25, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Red Snapper 2014 Open Harvest Season Min. Size Limit Daily Bag Limit
State and Federal Waters NEW State waters: Open the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 24, 2014) through July 14.

NEW Federal waters: Open June 1, 2014, through June 9, 2014, closing June 10, 2014.

Learn more about the federal season here. Adobe PDF

16″ total length 2 per harvester per
day (bag limit not changing)

*(included in the 10 per harvester per day state snapper aggregate bag limit)

Gear rules apply. Visit gear rules page for more information.

*Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for hire vessels.

Management History

NEW Gulf of Mexico Federal Red Snapper Update: The 2014 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season will be 9 days, opening at 12:01 a.m., June 1, 2014, and remaining open through June 9, 2014, closing June 10, 2014. The daily bag limit will remain 2 per person. Learn more.Adobe PDF

Recreational and commercial fishers in Gulf waters off Florida are required to use circle hooks and dehooking devices when fishing for reef fish, including red snapper.  Visit the reef fish gear rules page for more information.

View a history of Red Snapper management in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters.


Red snapper are long-lived, early-maturing reef fish that are broadly distributed in the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to be 57. Older, larger females contribute far more eggs than younger, smaller females. To have a sustainable red snapper stock, there should be an abundance of older/larger fish to maximize the number of young fish coming into the fishery.

Red snapper comparison

One 24-inch female red snapper (about an 8 year old fish) produces as many eggs as 212 17-inch females (about 5 years old).

Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles

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2014 Florida Bay Scallop Season to Open Three Days Early

by on May.21, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott has announced Florida’s bay scallop season will open three days early this year. Opening the season early and on a weekend will create additional recreational opportunities for Florida residents and visitors while recognizing the importance of economic benefits to coastal communities where this activity occurs.Governor Scott said, “I requested the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission open the season early this year to benefit our communities who rely on our fisheries. The bay scallop fishery is especially important to Florida’s Big Bend region and by opening the bay scallop season three days earlier, Floridians throughout this area will have more opportunities to enjoy our natural treasures and provide for their families.”

The Governor’s letter requesting FWC to open the bay scallop season early can be viewed here.

The season, which usually opens July 1, will open Saturday, June 28, 2014. The FWC will also bring a proposal to its Commissioners at a future meeting to change future season openings to the Saturday before July 1, unless July 1 happens to be a Saturday.

The recreational season will open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.

All other regulations, including bag and vessel limits, apply.

Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/319440#sthash.x6AXTGoa.dpuf

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Tarpon, Bonefish Become Catch & Release Only in Florida Sept. 1, 2013

by on Aug.27, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

From The Fishing Wire:

Two premier recreational fisheries will soon have new protections in place, a measure aimed at ensuring that tarpon and bonefish’s economic and fishing value remain for generations to come. Tarpon and bonefish become catch-and-release only fisheries beginning Sept. 1.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved these proactive management measures at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland. The catch-and-release proposal was adopted in recognition of the fact that the economic and fishing values of bonefish and tarpon greatly exceed their value as food fishes.

The following changes will go into effect Sept. 1 in state and federal waters off Florida:

  • All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
  • Tarpon tags will be limited to one per person, per year except for properly licensed charter boat captains and fishing guides.
  • Transport or shipment of tarpon becomes limited to one fish per person.
  • There will be a one-fish-per-vessel limit for tarpon.
  • Gear used for tarpon will be limited to hook-and-line only.
  • Multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait cannot be used to target or harvest tarpon, or to target bonefish.
  • People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.
  • Tarpon regulations will extend into federal waters.
  • The bonefish tournament exemption permit is eliminated. This exemption allowed tournament anglers with the proper permit to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale.

To learn more about tarpon and bonefish, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.”
– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/297121#sthash.OAvlfoyU.dpuf

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2013 Bay Scalloping Season to Open Early–June 29!

by on Jun.26, 2013, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee

The FWC has just announced that the season for harvesting bay scallops has been extended and will now open on June 29, rather than July 1.  That means there will be an extra weekend to have a great time and bring home some good eats!

If you’re not a seasoned scalloper, you might want to read “Bay Scallops–The Gulf of Mexico’s Tastiest Treat“.  Just click HERE

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FWC Takes Action Regarding Catch-and-Release Status of Tarpon and Bonefish

by on Jun.17, 2013, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

From Frank Sargeant, Editor, The Fishing Wire:

Florida’s FWC agreed to make tarpon and bonefish gamefish, allowing no harvest of bones and only one tarpon per year in pursuit of records, with a state permit. The commission also presented a draft rule that would ban the break-away jig that has been at the heart of so much controversy in tarpon fishing at Boca Grande Pass for the last 20 years-the proposal will be acted upon at the next commission meeting in Sept. 4-6 in Pensacola. Meantime, jig fishermen say they have already crafted a new lure that will get around the ruling-so the dockside arguments are likely to continue.

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