FWC Protects Boca Grande Tarpon
At there September meeting in Pensacola, the FWC approved language that changes the definition of snagging for tarpon and modifies what types of gear can be used in Boca Grande Pass. The changes go into effect November 1, 2013 and are designed to protect one of Florida’s most famous and important fisheries.
There are two parts to the new rule change. The first part adds language to the states definition of snagging and applies to tarpon fishing statewide. The old rule defined snagging as the intent to impale or hook the fish by any part of its body other than the mouth. The new language prohibits catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed to strike an angler’s gear.
The second part of the rule change prohibits fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod. This rule applies only when fishing inside the boundaries of Boca Grange Pass. The rule allows you to have such gear on your boa but it must not be attached to line or leader and it mus be stowed.
The rule changes are a victory for the “natural bait” tarpon anglers of Boca Grande Pass who have contended for years that the “Jig” anglers were using unethical fishing techniques. The jig technique uses a 3oz – 6oz hookless jig that is attached to the bend of a heavy duty offset circle hook. As the boat is maneuvered through the thick schools of tarpon in the pass a high-speed reel is used to quickly bring the jig up through the school hopping to snag one of the tarpon. The new rule changes make this practice illegal.