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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: season

Plan Ahead For 2018–FWC discusses regional bay scallop seasons on Big Bend

by on Dec.09, 2017, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

At its December meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed draft changes that would create regionally-specific bay scallop open seasons and would allow a trial scalloping season in state waters off Pasco County in 2018. Stakeholder input gathered over the past year was presented to the Commission along with an overview of the bay scallop fishery, an update on the status of scallops in St. Joseph Bay, and proposed management changes for the fishery.

This draft proposal includes both long- and short-term changes and will be brought back before the Commission at the February meeting for a final public hearing.

Regionally-specific open seasons, if approved, would mean the timing of the summer bay scallop season would vary across the allowable harvest area to provide a better scalloping experience for the public and maximize the benefits to various regions. For some regions, that means having a season that starts later so that scallops are bigger when the season begins and for other areas, that means having a season that starts during early summer to allow for more opportunities for those on summer break.

Allowing a short trial season in Pasco County, which has been closed to harvest since 1994, would likely provide an economic benefit to the county and create opportunities for local residents to scallop in their nearby waters.

If approved in February, long-term regionally-specific open seasons would include:

  • Franklin County through northwestern Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark, and St. Marks): July 1 through Sept. 24.
  • The remaining portion of Taylor County and all of Dixie County (including Keaton Beach and the Steinhatchee area): the third Saturday in June through Sept. 10.
  • Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties (including Cedar Key, Crystal River and Homosassa): July 10 through Sept. 10.

If approved in February, the following open seasons will be created by executive order for 2018 only:

  • St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 17 through Sept. 30, 2018.
  • Pasco County: Establish a 10-day open season to run July 20-29, 2018.

The FWC will set a long-term season in St. Joseph Bay once the population in that area has more fully rebuilt.

Share your input on these season changes by visiting MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments or emailing Marine@MyFWC.com. You can also learn more by viewing a workshop presentation at MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops” and “Workshops.”

For more information or to view the presentations given at the Commission meeting, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

Proposed 2018 Regional Bay Scallop Seasons

Map of tentative 2018 seasons. Final approval for these draft seasons will be considered at the February Commission meeting.

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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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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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Gag Grouper Season Opens Soon! April 1-June 30 in state waters off of Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties

by on Mar.26, 2014, under Apalachicola, Carrabelle and St. George Island, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

GPS Boundaries: Franklin-Taylor Regional Season

Location Longitude Latitude
Indian Pass 85 degrees 13.76 minutes west 29 degrees 40.71 minutes north
Offshore Indian Pass 85 degrees 13.71 minutes west 29 degrees 30.32 minutes north
Offshore Steinhatchee 83 degrees 34.52 minutes west 29 degrees 31.62 minutes north
Steinhatchee River 83 degrees 24.53 minutes west 29 degrees 40.03 minutes north

Gag Big Map Lat Long.

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Snook to reopen in Gulf state waters, March 1, 2014


The recreational harvest season for one of Florida’s premier game fish, snook, reopens on March 1 in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state and adjacent federal waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County. The season will remain open through April 30.
In the Gulf, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 33 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license unless exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.
It is illegal to buy or sell snook.
Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. The FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season. When choosing to release a fish, the FWC encourages anglers to handle it carefully to help the fish survive upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”

Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. These donations allow researchers to better determine the age groups that are being harvested, which makes stock assessments more precise. For the county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” “Saltwater Fish,” “Snook,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”
In Atlantic state and federal waters (including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River) the season is open through May 31, and one snook may be kept per person, per day. The size limit in Atlantic waters is no less than 28 inches total length and no more than 32 inches total length.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”

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NOAA Fisheries Announces the 2014 Red Snapper Recreational Season in the Gulf of Mexico


The 2014 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season will be 40 days, opening at 12:01am on June 1 and ending at 12:01am on July 11, 2014.

A list of frequently asked questions about the red snapper recreational season can be found at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Council Office website.

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Gray triggerfish, greater amberjack recreational season to open in Gulf of Mexico, August 1, 2013


Gray triggerfish and greater amberjack will open for recreational harvest in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters Aug. 1. The commercial harvest of gray triggerfish will also reopen Aug. 1 in Gulf state and federal waters.

The gray triggerfish season closed on June 10 this year, when new management measures went into effect. In future years, it will close June 1 in state and federal waters. Recreational harvest of greater amberjack also closes June 1 in state and federal waters.

When the gray triggerfish season reopens, new bag and trip limits will also be in effect in Gulf state and federal waters. The recreational bag limit will be two fish per person, per day, and the commercial limit will be 12 fish per trip.

Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually during June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the gray triggerfish population.
The minimum size limit for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 14 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail. The minimum size limit in Atlantic state waters is 12 inches fork length.
The minimum size limit for recreationally caught greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 30 inches fork length. In Atlantic state waters, the recreational size limit is 28 inches fork length. Recreational anglers may take one greater amberjack per person, per day.

Reef-fish gear rules apply when fishing for gray triggerfish and greater amberjack. In all Gulf waters, this means anglers must use circle hooks, and have a dehooking device and a venting tool on their vessel.

Using these tools will help increase a fish’s chance of survival if it is caught and returned to the water.
State waters in the Gulf extend from shore to 9 nautical miles and in the Atlantic from shore to 3 nautical miles; federal waters extend from those boundaries to about 200 miles from shore.

Learn more about saltwater fishing by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater.”

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Florida West Coast Snook Season to Re-Open Sept. 1


The first harvest in over three years will be allowed on Florida’s west coast thanks to a comeback of the cold-sensitive species after a 2010 freeze.

By Frank Sargeant, Editor, The Fishing Wire

The end of an unprecedented harvest closure for one of Florida’s premiere gamefish is now approaching at long last. Not since 2009 have anglers along Florida’s west coast been permitted to catch and eat the common snook, but the last day of that closure will be August 31.

Though the season re-opens on Sept. 1, fish of this size must be released–the harvest slot is a scant 5 inches, from 28 to 33 inches. (Photo Credit Captain Scott Moore.)
The season was closed in January of 2010 after an extended bout of cold weather killed tens of thousands of the warm-water fish, with the effect most pronounced in the shallow waters of the Gulf Coast.

Now, scientists report, fish stocks appear to have recovered adequately to allow a return to former harvest regulations, with one fish daily from 28 to 33 inches allowed, and closed seasons from May through August and December through February annually on the west coast.

Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission biologists Rachel Scharer, Carly Canion and Melissa Recks, in an exceptionally-understandable report concluded in May, reviewed the status of snook stocks on both coasts and reported the West Coast fish are again at numbers where controlled harvest will do the population no harm. (On the East Coast, where the cold kill was less severe, the normal season was restored in September, 2011.)

In an abundance of caution the FFWCC extended the closure beyond what was probably necessary for full recovery of the West Coast stocks. In June 2012, a stock assessment indicated the Gulf stock was exceeding the Commission’s 40% SPR management goal with a “spawning potential ratio” (SPR) of 56%. (The SPR is the number of snook reaching spawning age in a fished population compared to the number that should reach spawning age in an unfished population.) Similarly, the Atlantic stock was continuing to show improvement with an SPR of 34%, compared to an SPR value of 25% in 2006.

However, biologists said the juvenile population on the Gulf had been negatively affected by the cold temperatures, despite the fact that it was not reflected in the SPR. And many anglers testified asking for more time for the gulf stock to recover. The Commission agreed and kept the fishery closed. The Gulf thus remains closed under an Emergency Order (12-11) set to expire August 31, 2013.

While there’s likely to be a huge take of snook for the first few days of the newly-opened season as anglers rush to enjoy a fish that’s been off the menu so long, biologists say the harvest likely won’t impact the recovery long term.

FWC interviews indicate anglers release more than 90% of the snook they catch statewide, and since 2005 have released more than 95%. According to the FWC, the total catch in 2012, including the number of fish released, was 236,377 snook on the Atlantic coast and 1,034,083 snook in the Gulf. In the Atlantic the total catch of snook peaked at 689,000 fish in 1995. In the Gulf, catch peaked at 2,348,000 fish in 2005. Catch and release mortality has not been factored into these calculations.

Scientists say the biological threshold for common snook-the level at which populations might be harmed by fishing pressure–is just 20 percent SPR. The current management goal of 40 percent is result of the status anglers have given the species, requesting more and larger fish for catch-and-release rather than the opportunity to harvest more fish. The higher required survival level also gives a buffer in times of natural declines.

Red tide and cold weather are not part of these calculations, so managing on the high side of the SPR makes sense to allow for these uncontrollable natural phenomena.

Researchers estimate the adult stock biomass dropped nearly 20% in 2010, and estuarine sampling showed that juvenile snook were more affected by the extreme temperatures, meaning the total effects of the cold weather on the spawning stock will not be realized for several more years as what is potentially a missing year class would be reaching maturity.

Local anglers along the west coast are still reporting snook numbers not a match for what they were prior to the peak in the fall of 2009, but hopefully with the limiting harvest regulations, the population will continue to climb even with an open season. For details, visit www.myfwc.com.

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