The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is gathering input on management of the recreational spotted seatrout fishery. You can share your input by taking an online survey at SurveyMonkey.com/r/Seatrout2018. Your input will help FWC better understand the public’s satisfaction and desires related to this popular recreational fishery.
Spotted seatrout is managed in Florida in four unique zones across the state (Northwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast).
The status of the seatrout populations within each zone is assessed using a measure of population health known as the Spawning Potential Ratio. Research indicates seatrout populations should be kept to at least 20 percent SPR to maintain a sustainable population. The FWC manages spotted seatrout at a higher management goal of 35 percent SPR to provide a better fishery.
In 2017, staff held a series of workshops related to a draft spotted seatrout assessment. The final assessment results were released in 2018 and suggest the Southwest and Southeast zones are exceeding the FWC’s management goal. The Northeast and Northwest zones are not meeting the 35 percent SPR management goal and may benefit from some management actions.
The results of the survey will be brought to a Commission meeting in early 2019.
The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 1 in federal and most state waters of the Gulf, including all of Monroe County and Everglades National Park.
Snook, as well as redfish, remain catch-and-release only in state waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County (includes Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County) through May 10, 2019, in response to the impacts of red tide.
Snook outside of that area will reopen to harvest March 1, 2019. Anglers may continue to catch and release snook during the closed season.
Season closures are designed to help conserve snook during vulnerable times such as cold weather. Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, will close Dec. 15 through Jan. 31, 2019, reopening to harvest Feb. 1, 2019.
Partnership focuses on increasing high school participation in fishing and conservation efforts by offering funds for fishing teams
Participation in rough-and-tumble sports is a great way to get high schoolers exercising. But there are many students who want a different type of adrenaline rush than getting tackled on the football field or tossed in the air while cheering for their team. For those students, I strongly suggest fishing — and there is even funding available to get a team started or add members to an existing team.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with its partners the Fishing League Worldwide Foundation and The Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation, are offering a grant from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation to encourage the creation and success of high school fishing teams and clubs in Florida. This partnership places a particular emphasis on establishing new high school angling teams and supporting existing ones in schools with diverse student populations.
The program will provide grants of up to $500 to assist with expenses related to fishing team or club-sponsored tournaments, team jerseys, insurance, and education for novice anglers. Supported teams and clubs will also partner with the FWC, FLW Foundation and The Bass Federation to complete a conservation project. The program not only benefits the students, but program participants and their families will receive education on conservation programs, aquatic and marine biology, and boating and angler safety.
There is still ample grant funding available, so interested parties are encouraged to apply soon for consideration. Online applications should be submitted at www.flwfishing.com/foundation.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) took immediate action to help the snook population rebound after a prolonged cold spell in January 2010. The cold snap, which led the FWC to close the fisheries, had a much greater effect on the snook population on the Gulf Coast than it did on the Atlantic Coast. The Atlantic fishery was closed for nine months while the Gulf fishery remained closed until September 2013.
The latest stock assessment shows that catch rates for the snook populations have returned to pre-cold event levels. The quick recovery demonstrates that the FWC’s conservative management strategies resulted in abundant snook populations prior to the cold snap and that this large biomass was useful in population resilience. During the closure, spawning occurred without the threat of fishing mortality. As a result the number of young snook multiplied and adult snook grew larger.
On the heels of the 2016 Snook Symposium, FWC research administrator Luiz Barbieri explained, “Stock assessments provide objective, quantitative metrics on the status of stocks. They represent the main tool the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute uses to provide scientific advice for management of Florida’s fisheries stocks.”
The FWC manages snook in the Gulf differently than it does snook in the Atlantic because of their genetic differences and separate life history patterns. Snook from the Gulf typically inhabit a single estuary for their entire lives, while snook from the Atlantic migrate much greater distances. Snook species found in Florida are located at the northern limit of their thermal range. They can experience thermal stress when water temperatures decline in the winter months. Because snook is one of Florida’s most popular recreational fisheries, the FWC works with the fishing community to help develop management options.
For more information about snook research, go to MyFWC.com/Research, select “Saltwater” then “Saltwater Fish” and then click on “Snook.”
Snook Release Ruler
Up-to-date Florida regulations
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Measure fish up to 45 inches
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Dimensionally stable material for accurate measurement
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