New Red Grouper Rules For Gulf

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a new state regulation at it’s Nov. 20 meeting in Key Largo that lowers the red grouper recreational bag limit from four to two fish per person in Gulf of Mexico state waters, excluding Monroe County. Earlier this year, the recreational red grouper season was closed in federal waters because of the recreational catch limit being exceeded in 2013. Florida anglers and for-hire captains requested the change in the bag limit hoping it will increase the length of the recreational red grouper season in federal waters. The changes also make state regulations consistent with pending regulations in Gulf federal waters. As long as the two-fish federal regulation is approved, the new state regulation will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

Gulf Vent Tool Regulation Removed

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) removed the requirement to have and use a venting tool when fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters at there November 21st meeting. The rule change brings Florida’s fishing regulations back inline with those imposed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council who removed the requirement to have and use a venting tool in Gulf federal waters earlier this year.

The venting tool regulation was put into place in 2008 along with a ban on the use of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and the requirement to have and use a dehooking devices. The requirement to use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and to use a dehooking devices are still in place. Only the requirement to have and use a venting tool has been removed. These tools are not required in Atlantic state or federal waters.

Venting Tools
Venting tools are used as a way to increase survival rates of Gulf reef fish. When deep water fish are brought to the surface to quickly they often suffer from a condition called barotrauma. The change in pressure from the deep water to the surface can cause gases within the fish’s swim bladder to expand. This makes it look like the fishes stomach is being pushed out of it’s mouth. Barotrauma and can cause damage to the fishes internal organs and and make it difficult for the fish to return to deeper water.

fish descending device
Fish Descending Device
While venting tools are still a good way to increase the survival rate of reef fish, a new device can also be used to reduce the effects of barotrauma. Fish Descending Devices are a way to quickly return reef fish to deeper water. They can either be purchased or home made. Purchased descending devices consists mostly of a ‘fish holder’ and heavy weight that are attached to a fishing rod. The fish is attached by the mouth to the fish holder, then lowered to the bottom. Once at the desired depth, the rod is given a strong jerk, releasing the fish. Home made versions consist of a weighted crate attached to a rope. The fish are placed in the crate, which is then placed upside down in the water and lowered to the desired depth. When the fish is ready it simply swims out of the crate. Read more about fish descending devices at Fish Descending Devices.

While the use of a venting tool or descending device is no longer required, using them today can help reduce the need for similar or even stricter regulations in the future. Remember, today’s barely short fish is tomorrows keeper!

Proposed Rules For Swordfish, Blue Runner

The next FWC Commission Meeting will be held on November 21, 2013 in Weston. On the agenda are a couple of issues that could impact Southwest Florida’s offshore anglers.

First is a draft rule discussion on swordfish. NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Division recently changed federal commercial swordfish rules. The proposed draft rule would make state swordfish rules consistent with federal rules including…
designate swordfish as a restricted species
change the minimum cleithrum to keel length measurement for swordfish harvest from 29 to 25 inches
provide an exception from recreational bag and vessel limits for persons commercially harvesting swordfish pursuant to a saltwater products license and either a federal Swordfish General Commercial permit or HMS Charter/Headboat permit when not carrying passengers. It would also clarify that a valid restricted species endorsement is required for commercial harvest.
A new subsection would clarify that if adjacent federal waters are closed to commercial harvest of swordfish, corresponding state waters shall also be closed until federal waters are reopened to harvest. Harvest, possession, or landing for commercial purposes, and purchase, sale, or exchange of swordfish would be prohibited during such closure.
clarify that swordfish may only be harvested by hook and line in state waters.
allow persons to sell swordfish harvested commercially pursuant to a federal Swordfish General Commercial permit or federal HMS Charter/Headboat permit (swordfish may not be harvested on a for-hire trip). The proposed draft rule would also clarify that a person who harvests swordfish may not sell swordfish unless the harvester possesses a valid restricted species endorsement. This subsection would also be modified to require wholesale dealers purchasing swordfish to possess a valid federal Atlantic swordfish dealer permit.

Blue Runner

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) recently approved an amendment to remove blue runner from the federal snapper grouper fishery management plan partially because the FWC agreed to regulate blue runner harvest in federal waters of the Atlantic.
The proposed final rule would create a new rule chapter in Florida Administrative Code for blue runner.
The rule would define blue runner as any fish of the species Caranx crysos and set the recreational daily bag limit for blue runner at 100 fish in state waters and extend the proposed bag limit into federal waters.
A saltwater products license (SPL) to harvest blue runner in quantities greater than the recreational bag limit from state or federal waters off Florida, and to harvest blue runner for commercial purposes from state or federal waters.

FWC Protects Boca Grande Tarpon

tarpon jig
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.

FWC Opens More Fishing Opportunities

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made changes to the recreational fishing seasons of Gulf Red Snapper, several species of Gulf grouper and Atlantic vermilion snapper at there September 5, 2013 meeting.

The FWC approved an…

Oct. 1-21, 2013 supplemental recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters. Federal fishery managers are analyzing data and may open a supplemental red snapper season in Gulf federal waters. They will make an announcement within the next few weeks.

Eliminated a Feb. 1 – March 31, 2014 recreational season closure affecting several species of grouper in Gulf of Mexico state waters. Affected Grouper species include black, red, red hind, rock hind, scamp, yellowfin and yellowmouth. The Feb. 1 – March 31 closure in federal waters was recently removed in waters shoreward of 20 fathoms or about 120 feet deep.

Eliminated a Nov. 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014 recreational season closure for vermilion snapper in Atlantic state waters. Vermilion snapper populations have improved since 2008 thanks to successful state and federal fishery management. A 2012 stock assessment revealed that bag limit reductions and the five-month closed season has successfully rebuilt Atlantic vermillion snapper numbers.

State waters extend 9 nautical miles from shore into the Gulf and 3 nautical miles from shore into the Atlantic. Federal waters extend out another 200 nautical miles from where state waters end. The season eliminations will align state regulations with federal regulations.

Give us a call at the number below or fill in the form on the left hand side of this page to set up your Fort Lauderdale fishing charter!

Reel Work Sport Fishing Charters
301 Seabreeze Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Fort Lauderdale Fishing Charters

FWC Fishing Rule Changes 2/2013

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) met Feb. 13th and 14th in Orlando to discuss several rule changes that will effect Florida anglers.

One of these rule changes was the recreational red snapper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters. They proposed the 2013 season should start June 1 and end July 14th. The commission is considering a season longer then the proposed 27 day long federal season because of reports indicating the upcoming federal stock assessment will show red snapper are doing better than previously thought along with reports from anglers that the fishery is improving. They will make a final decision on this season at the April Commission meeting in Tallahassee.

The FWC also set the 2013 recreational gag grouper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters. The season will be July 1st – December 3rd in most state waters. Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties, including waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, will have a gag grouper open season of April 1st through June 30th. This will allow recreational anglers in this area to fish for gag grouper when they are closer to shore and can be fished for from smaller boats. Monroe County is included in the Atlantic season for gag grouper.

The FWC approved two changes to how gray triggerfish are managed in Gulf of Mexico state waters. The changes will make state regulations consistent with pending federal regulations. Changes for recreational anglers include a June 1-through-July 31 closed recreational season and a two-fish daily bag limit. Changes for commercial anglers include a 12-fish trip limit and a June 1-through-July 31 harvest closure.

Reel Work Sport Fishing Charters. Call us at 1-877-524-9377 to set up your sailfish fishing charter today.

Atlantic Snapper Rules 2013

There has been some confusion lately about fishing regulations pertaining to the different species of snapper in Atlantic waters off of Florida. For example, if you look at the 2013 Recreational Seasons – AT-A-GLANCE Atlantic State Waters .pdf it shows that Vermilion Snapper season is closed January – March, and again in November and December. The chart makes no mention of any of the other snapper species, including Red Snapper. The problem with this chart is that it only shows you snapper regulations in Florida State waters. Many of Florida’s fish are found in both state and federal waters and are managed by both the FWC and federal agencies. Federal waters start beyond three nautical miles off the Florida Atlantic coast. You need to look at the Atlantic Snapper page on the MYFWC website to get a clearer understanding of snapper regulations. If you look at that page you will see that Red Snapper season is open year round in state waters, but in Federal waters the season is closed with a 2013 Pending Season Opening July 12 (second Friday of July) for 3 day weekends until quota is met. For Vermilion Snapper and all other snapper species the rules are the same in both Federal ans State waters.
Book your Fort Lauderdale fishing charter today by filling in the contact form on the left side of this page or by calling 1-877-524-9377.

FWC Commission Meeting, Feb. 2013

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be holding its next meeting February 13 – 14, 2013 starting at 8:30am each day at Sea World in Orlando. The meeting is open to the public and all interested individuals will be given an opportunity speak. The meetings will include updates from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council on red snapper, vermilion snapper, mackerel, cobia, reef fish gear, and reef fish allocation.

The council will make there Final Rule on the following:
Gulf of Mexico Recreational Gag Grouper Season for 2013.
Saltwater Game fish and Sport fish Designations
Gulf of Mexico Gray Triggerfish
Recreational Bag Limits: Snapper, Grouper, Hogfish, Black Sea Bass, Red Porgy, Amberjacks, Tilefish
Recreational Triggerfish Season

The commission will also work on Draft Rules for:
Bluefish Size Limit and Bag Limit
Vessel Operator Responsibility (NEW) – The proposed draft rule would make a vessel operator responsible for ensuring that the persons aboard his or her vessel comply with marine fisheries regulations.

Florida Kids Fishing Clinics 2013

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be sponsoring Kids’ Fishing Clinics throughout Florid once again in 2013. These one-day educational events designed to teach children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems and help them become responsible marine resource stewards.

The children go through five mandatory skill stations: Casting, Knot Tying, Fishing Tackle, Good Angler and Touch Tank, that are designed to give each child fundamental saltwater fishing skills and to provide them with a positive fishing experience. The clinic lasts about one hour and each child will receive a free rod and reel for participating. Most clinics will also give the children an opportunity to test there new fishing skills.

Here are the dates and places for Florida’s 2013 Kids Fishing Clinics.

February 23rd
Crystal River
Fort Island Gulf Beach Fishing Pier
12073 W. Fort Island Trail Map
9:00 AM – Noon
Preregistration required: 352-527-7547

March 9th
Ft. Clinch State Park
2601 Atlantic Ave. Map
9 AM – Noon

March 23rd
Daytona Beach
Sunglow Fishing Pier
3701 S. Atlantic Ave. Map
9 AM – Noon

April 6th
Wooley Park Map
Mound St.
9 AM – Noon

April 13th
Plaza De Luna
997 S. Palafox St. Map
9 AM – Noon

April 20th
Naples City Fishing Pier
25 12th Ave. S. Map
9 AM – Noon

June 29th
Cape Canaveral
Cruise Terminal #3
220 Christopher Columbus Dr. Map
9 AM – Noon

FWC Consider Game/Sport Fish Class

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approve a proposed draft rule at it’s Dec. 5 Commission meeting that would creating saltwater game fish and sport fish designations. Florida does not have an official saltwater game fish or sport fish designation for it’s important recreational fish. The sport fish designation would offer a higher level of protection than game fish by making selected species catch-and-release only. There would be no recreational harvest or commercial harvest, possession or sale of designated sport fish. Species to be included under the game fish or sport fish designations will not be decided at the February Commission meeting. The Commission is considering the rules to highlight and protect some of Florida’s premier recreational fish. They hope the changes would not only lead to a healthier fish population, it will help market Florida as a world-class fishing destination.