The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the Gulf recreational red snapper season in state waters April 16 at a meeting near Tallahassee. The season will be a total of 52 days in 2014 and will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 24 this year) and remain open through July 14, closing July 15.
Starting the season the Saturday before Memorial Day will provide recreational red snapper fishing through an important holiday weekend, helping attract more visitors and bringing economic benefits to our coastal communities.
The federal season is currently projected to be 11 days long, starting June 1 and remaining open through June 11. This season is subject to change depending on projections by NOAA Fisheries for when the recreational red snapper quota may be caught.
Florida state waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end, out to about 200 nautical miles.
The daily bag limit will remain 2 per person in state and federal waters.
Tired of hotels, motels and even crowded campground? Then consider a houseboat vacation on Florida’s scenic Suwannee River.
Consider renting a houseboat from Miller’s Marina in Suwannee. After a quick training session, you get your captain’s papers and are ready to go. The 44-foot houseboat comes complete with flush toilet, shower and full kitchen, and sleeps six to eight people. Have a serious party weekend or just relax with family as the boat chugs along at a leisurely seven knots down this scenic river. Keep packing to a minimum because chances are, you’ll be living in your swimsuit. For the most part you’ll anchor up in the middle of this lazy river, but you’ll also have the opportunity to stop at places like Manatee Springs and enjoy the swimming in the crystal clear 72-degree waters.
April 8, 2014
April “Gone Coastal” column
By Amanda Nalley
Across Florida there are signs that spring has sprung, from the fine layer of yellow pollen coating everything in the north to folks returning to the water sans wetsuit in the south. Warmer water also means the return of Spanish mackerel, a feisty fish that migrates south when the water temperature dips below 70 and should be returning to north Florida waters right about now.
Spanish mackerel are easy to catch, making them a great target for kids and those new to the sport, but their aggressive fighting behavior when on the line also makes them exciting for seasoned veterans.
Interested in catching a Spanish mackerel or two? Spring and early summer are a great time to target these fish as they move north along the coast. They frequent nearshore sandy and grassy areas, from bays to beaches and piers, but can also be caught farther offshore. Spanish mackerel typically follow baitfish, so look for areas where fish are jumping.
The main two ways to target Spanish mackerel are trolling for them (running a line behind your boat while it is in motion) and casting.
When it comes to gear, the goal is to replicate baitfish.
If you are trolling for them, many people use what is called a mackerel tree, a series of hooks on a line with pieces of tubing acting as lures near each hook followed by a trolling spoon.
If you plan to fish for Spanish mackerel by casting, then spoons, jigs or any shallow diving lure will work. Spanish mackerel are a fairly fragile fish that need to be handled carefully and quickly when catching and releasing. If your artificial lures have treble hooks on them, consider bending down all the barbs or replacing the treble hooks with single hooks. Treble hooks can cause significant damage to a fish.
Unlike some species, Spanish mackerel will go after a wide variety of artificial lures, but if you are a natural-bait fan, try threadfin herring, cigar minnows or finger-sized mullet.
Mackerel have extremely sharp teeth. So if you don’t want to lose your lure and your line, make sure to use a leader that is at least 30 pound test. Above that, a good light spinning rod with 10- to 15-pound test will be plenty to reel in the fish.
Whether or not you ever hit the daily bag limit of 15 Spanish mackerel per person in state waters, there are plenty of other fish nearby to target, such as bluefish and lady fish, which also follow bait around.
Be sure to keep a measuring device nearby. The minimum size limit for Spanish mackerel is 12 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the lower jaw with the mouth closed to the center of the fork in the tail. Be sure to use a straight line measurement and not a flexible tape, as this can throw off your measurement.
Size limits and bag limits help ensure the Spanish mackerel population remains sustainable for future generations. The first statewide daily bag limit was set in 1986 and was four fish per person. This was increased to five in 1991, to 10 in 1993 and to where it is today, 15, in 2000. The size limit went into effect in 1999.
Find a keeper or two? Spanish mackerel are best eaten fresh, not frozen, within the first three days of being caught. Make sure to ice them down good and keep them cold. They can be grilled, fried, baked or smoked.
Catch a really big one? The current state record is 12 pounds, caught off Fort Pierce in 1984, and the world record is 13 pounds caught in North Carolina in 1987. If you think you can beat that, visit the International Game Fish Association website at IGFA.org or, for state records, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Grand Slam/Fishing Records.”
Learn more about Spanish mackerel at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Mackerel, Spanish.” Email comments, questions, photos or suggestions to Saltwater@MyFWC.com.
Don’t forget to record all of your catches on the iAngler phone app or at snookfoundation.org.
“Gone Coastal” is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection, call 850-487-0554 or email Saltwater@MyFWC.com.
Inshore, offshore and freshwater categories. Lots of great prizes!
Depart at first safe light from Suwannee Marina.
For complete information, visit trentonrotaryclub.org or call Charlie at (352) 463-6613 x306
Free fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for parents who don’t yet have licenses to take youth fishing, or avid anglers to introduce a friend to fishing without having to purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents).
All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply.
License-free freshwater days for 2014
License-free saltwater days for 2014
The saltwater waiver applies to any recreational harvest requiring a saltwater fishing license (e.g., crabbing, lobstering, scalloping, etc.) as well as fishing from shore or a boat. A snook or spiny lobster permit are not required on these days.
The June free fishing days were chosen because they coincide with the first and last days of National Fishing and Boating Week External Website which is set as the first to second Saturday in June each year.
License-free freshwater days for 2015 and beyond
License-free saltwater days for 2015 and beyond
- See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/315342#sthash.3w3GiDNU.dpuf
Folks looking to get outside on a nice spring day are invited to attend the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center’s (BTYCC) seventh annual Outdoor Experience on April 12. The BTYCC is in Jefferson County on U.S. 19 just north of U.S. 27.
The Saturday event is free and open to all ages. It begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. Advance registration is not necessary. Food will be available for purchase, or attendees can bring their own sack lunch.
Activities include fishing, archery, shooting sport stations, a K-9 demonstration, wild animal displays, hayrides and more. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners will have activities and educational programs that highlight the conservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife resources.
Also, outdoor television personalities Master of the Longbow Byron Ferguson and Xtreme Sport Shooter Patrick Flanigan will be there, giving demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Partners participating in the event include the Florida Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Tallahassee Museum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Homestead Ministries, American Red Cross, Jefferson County Extension Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Long Rifles, Plantation Security and Red Hills Chapter of Quail Forever.
For more information on Beau Turner’s Outdoor Experience, or to obtain more detailed driving directions to the center, call Kelly Langston at 850-717-8702, or go to BTYCC.org.
|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|
Be sure to sign up for this great tournament, benefiting the Inglis-Yankeetown Lions Club. Complete information online at naturecoastchallenge.com
Taylor County, on Florida’s Big Bend, “gets it right” when it comes to access to the Gulf Waters. The public boat ramp at Keaton Beach is one of the best, easily accessed with good facilities and parking. Now, with the addition of a huge new parking lot for cars and trailers, just across CR361. In the past, when the parking lot filled, boaters were forced to park alongside the roadway, often as far away as a quarter-mile.