Thoughts on red/snook catch and release only till May?

What is everyone’s opinion on this? I’m north county Pinellas and my stomping grounds luckily came out pretty unscathed (Pasco never even got a hint of red tide) but nonetheless good ole fdubs put us in the zone when they enacted the policy back in sept or whenever it was. 

Does anyone have a good source of the hard data that supports the moratorium, like the downtick in red & snook population? I mean I don’t doubt they got hit hard I just want to see how hard and what’s prompted such a long period instead of a short timeframe and then having a look back at the numbers to see if the pops are back to normal. 

Also, I’m not familiar with this ever really happening in any other places I’ve fished so I’m curious, if it has happened to you before, when May comes around will the red bite be on fire or just about the same from before the red tide? Were we already at carrying capacity meaning the upper limit was already hit so it won’t get any better? Maybe it’s just because I’ve started targeting them out of boredom searching for gag/sharks but I feel like the red bite is heating up rapidly and I’m finally getting starting to see some nice slots and good schools of em up and down the coast like I’m used to seeing up in apalachicola. 

IS FWC short staffed down here what, I kid you not we’ll get stopped at least every 3-4 outings no matter where in the port st joe/apalach area yet I’ve not seen a single warden comes do any checks to any of the extremely popular places I’ve been working for the past few weeks. I’ve called them at least 5 times for people keeping small snook that are not only undersized but obviously catch and release right now and like 10in gags, and they never, not once came out or anything. I watched a guy take a 10in gag, 4 rock bass that were like 2in long max and then land a bonnet head smash it’s head in with a club till it was dead and throw it back the water for no apparent reason, called FWC and they said someone will check it out yet 3 hours later absolutely nothing happened. 

One last question (not sure this will get attention down here so I’ll just make a new thread discussing it later on) but have any of you or do any of you open carry while fishing under statute 790.25(h)? It’s definitely something that I’d like to do, however I’m not really sure how well LE or wardens are educated on that topic and don’t wanna end up on the wrong side of the barrel. 
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Replies

  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    Red tide started in the Charlotte harbor area last October, or at least close to that and has slowly moved north. It hit my area, Sarasota  and Bradenton, mid July and moved to Pinellas about a month or so later. The concentrations of red tide are still very high from south Sarasota to mid Pinellas according to the latest fwc report. It is also in the Panhandle now, and strong on the east coast as well. There is no indication that it will be gone anytime soon. Not as many fish kills being reported, but that is not necessarily good news. It can't kill the same fish twice if you get my point.

    Sounds like you are néw to the area. The redfish have been in steady decline in the southwest and west-central area for the last 5 years. Those schools of 200 plus fish have been gone for years now. A change in redfish regs needed to be changed regardless of red tide. I would like to see some changes to the regs even after they open them again. Some of my ideas are a tighter slot limit. Maybe 21 to 26 inches. Close them in September and October when they school heavily and a school can wiped out quickly once the word gets out as to where they are. Maybe a 2 fish per boat limit too. If a guide for example finds a school, and takes 7 to 10 trips a week with 3 to 4 anglers per trip. Well do the math. One of the most disturbing things about redfish, is that I had a talk with an fwc officer and he told me he has seen every species of dead fish except redfish. I said they can't die if they aren't here. He agreed and said they have definitely not been many around.

    As far as snook go, they seemed to have made a strong comeback from the freeze as they always do, but they got hammered by the red tide as it hit them on the beach as they were trying to spawn.

  • Jack HexterJack Hexter New Port RicheyPosts: 4,482 Moderator
    Personally I don't think the C&R for snook and Reds went far enough, they should have done it for trout too.

    And why would one want to open carry, while on a boat in a salt water environment.
  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    I agree with trout closed as well. 
  • MangroveflMangrovefl Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    Personally I don't think the C&R for snook and Reds went far enough, they should have done it for trout too.

    And why would one want to open carry, while on a boat in a salt water environment.
    Not sure why you would assume on a boat, obviously unless unless I’m worried about pirates I wouldn’t need to open carry on a boat... I’m talking about shore based fishing. 




  • MangroveflMangrovefl Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    Red tide started in the Charlotte harbor area last October, or at least close to that and has slowly moved north. It hit my area, Sarasota  and Bradenton, mid July and moved to Pinellas about a month or so later. The concentrations of red tide are still very high from south Sarasota to mid Pinellas according to the latest fwc report. It is also in the Panhandle now, and strong on the east coast as well. There is no indication that it will be gone anytime soon. Not as many fish kills being reported, but that is not necessarily good news. It can't kill the same fish twice if you get my point.

    Sounds like you are néw to the area. The redfish have been in steady decline in the southwest and west-central area for the last 5 years. Those schools of 200 plus fish have been gone for years now. A change in redfish regs needed to be changed regardless of red tide. I would like to see some changes to the regs even after they open them again. Some of my ideas are a tighter slot limit. Maybe 21 to 26 inches. Close them in September and October when they school heavily and a school can wiped out quickly once the word gets out as to where they are. Maybe a 2 fish per boat limit too. If a guide for example finds a school, and takes 7 to 10 trips a week with 3 to 4 anglers per trip. Well do the math. One of the most disturbing things about redfish, is that I had a talk with an fwc officer and he told me he has seen every species of dead fish except redfish. I said they can't die if they aren't here. He agreed and said they have definitely not been many around.

    As far as snook go, they seemed to have made a strong comeback from the freeze as they always do, but they got hammered by the red tide as it hit them on the beach as they were trying to spawn.

    4th generation Floridian, Florida through and through have lived in basically every part of the state and fished many of them. 

    Based on the resesrch I did after posting this thread, it’s evident that it’s not really the red tide destroying red pops but more the sheer amount of people here fishing a less than ideal fishery as it is. In comparison to say, apalachicola, where nutrient rich fresh water creates a very favorable environment for these fish like reds to thrive and boom we where in the Tampa area aren’t afforded that sameness privilege. Not to mention our pop is way higher here, way too many tourists and snowbirds coming down and obliterating the already dwindling amount of fish that are left.

    With that being said I don’t agree with the notion that making more stringent size regs will do little to anything. Look at Louisiana and their creel limits, the environment created by their eroding coast can support limits that are unimaginable in our area, no size regulation or ban will ever make it that good. 

    Not to to mention the sheer number of people who just disregard the limits as they are and don’t care because they know there are no repercussions. We need WAY more FWC officers and a crackdown on undersized fish in the area. I also wouldn’t mind some sort of policy that would greatly increase the cost of a fishing license for non-Florida residents that would in part fund an expansion of the FWC but also hopefully disuade the constant hammering of every spot in the entire state that has fish by people who only serve to hurt our environment. Probably a pretty unpopular stance though. 

    Im finding massive schools of reds down here that I used to find in apalach now that I know where to look. Just yesterday we couldn’t get ~16in beautiful copper reds to leave our lures alone. Probably safely released 6 between us all in a 3 hour period, all schooling and looked as healthy as could be. The same way they were when I lived here as a kid, they just are in different places, you can’t expect to find them on a beach with 500 people everyday playing loud music and casting out 12ft Walmart poles with chunks of squid and then dumping their bud light in the water after spanning 10 rods over an entire pier so no one else can walk let alone fish. 
  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer

    If catching 6 16" reds in 3 hours is good for you than so be it. Good for you. When I mean schools of Reds, I am talking about the 100s of upper and over slot fish that would show up August-October in big herds.

    Reducing limits always increases the population. Sometimes they can go to far and end up with overpopulation of a species. Red Snapper for example.

    As far as water quality, I can't speak for the Tampa bay waters, however from the studies that have been done on grass flats, the health of the grass in Tampa Bay hasn't been this good in decades. What I can speak for is Sarasota and Bradenton has some of the clearest water in the state. Certain times of the year it can be a struggle to catch fish in some areas because of its clarity. I've said to my buddies many times, we have to move and find some dirty water.

    Everyone who's been fishing here the last 5 years has seen the massive decrease in Red population. It's not new news.

  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    edited November 2018 #9
    I remember catching 20, 30, 40 plus upper and over slot fish in a couple hours just 5 or six years ago. Didn't even need to chum. All that was needed was live pinfish under a cork. The last couple of years I have probably hit low double digits 2 maybe 3 times.
  • MangroveflMangrovefl Posts: 14 Greenhorn

    If catching 6 16" reds in 3 hours is good for you than so be it. Good for you. When I mean schools of Reds, I am talking about the 100s of upper and over slot fish that would show up August-October in big herds.

    Reducing limits always increases the population. Sometimes they can go to far and end up with overpopulation of a species. Red Snapper for example.

    As far as water quality, I can't speak for the Tampa bay waters, however from the studies that have been done on grass flats, the health of the grass in Tampa Bay hasn't been this good in decades. What I can speak for is Sarasota and Bradenton has some of the clearest water in the state. Certain times of the year it can be a struggle to catch fish in some areas because of its clarity. I've said to my buddies many times, we have to move and find some dirty water.

    Everyone who's been fishing here the last 5 years has seen the massive decrease in Red population. It's not new news.

    I disagree again. Our regulations are set up in a way, or in other words designed to allow these targeted species to be at or near a sustainable level and in some cases at carrying capacity IF all other factors are balanced and in check. 

    The issue is is fact that we have WAY more people fishing than 10 year agos and WAY more people ignoring the laws and just taking whatever they hell they want without care because Florida isn’t the place they call home. 

    Also I highly doubt that the water is even closest to being the clearest in the state. Not only is the population booming in our area but runoff and pollution is increasing exponentially every year. I’ll do some more research but I’ll confidently say the health of Tampa bay and neighboring regions have deteriorating water quality that’s spiraling out of control causing the issues you’ve said. 

    Im not arguing the fishing is getting worse, it is in some places however the solution isn’t tightening regulations that are already ignored, but rather a strict crackdown and a focus on protecting our very special environment by preventing and dissuading the rapid increasing in people fishing. Most of them won’t have any luck but even a blind squirrel will find an acorn, and every year we have millions of blind squires fishing our coast. 
  • TooLooseTooLoose Posts: 47 Greenhorn

    I agree with the trout closure; unfortunately they got overlooked, but the same could be said about the massive amounts of mangroves and flounder I've seen floating around the last few months. I don't know the science behind the growth speed of all the fish and whether or not it is needed across the board, but there seems to be a difference between "sport fish" (reds/snook/trout) and "grocery fish" (mangroves, founder, pompano).

    I have also noticed a significant decline in the number of redfish schools (100+ fish) over the past 5-8 years, but I think this generally could be attributed more to the fishing pressure than the red-tide. Maybe I was late to the game, but it seems like the "entry-to-market" has greatly tightened over the same time period. Kayaks, paddleboards, and small skiffs seem to have exploded, giving everyone an ability to get on the water and fish. While the red tide certainly is not helping matters, these concerns existed well before this summer. in my opinion fishing pressure and general "respect" is what is hurting these water most.

    Tightening regulations can't hurt, and I am all for it, but the idea that the FWC currently keeps the masses accountable is just crazy (from an observer perspective). If you have been around TB or SRQ for any amount of time you know there are no secrets... yet, I never see anyone enforcing the slow-speed or no-motor zones while flats are getting chopped up, or monitoring the public piers, etc.

    We all have to have some pride in our home waters, and I don't expect FWC to be the magical solution, but instilling the perception that you should follow the rules could go a long way. I am not saying FWC is not doing their job, I see new reports every week, I just agree with the original poster's idea that they are simply not able to keep up with growing population and pressures.

  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    I agree there is a lack of fwc officers. No question about that. 
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 985 Officer
    the closure is good. Its not like you'd wanna eat any of the fish caught in affected regions anyway. Hopefully it will not need to be extended.
    What i have noticed most about the redfish is that, while there are still plenty of large schools, they are not the big breeders as Lukky said.  They are mostly slot fish or or under 30".
    What would really need to be studied is the population structure of the large breeders offshore, where they are and how many.  It is possible that due to pressure they remain in deeper waters mostly.  
    10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish  :)
    Te cleanest waters i have seen are in the big bend region around Hernando and citrus counties where the rivers are spring runs basically. When weather patter is calm and no rain the flats is crystal clear.  Anclote area can some nice clean flats too.
    Good to hear N. Pinellas has not been hit hard with red tide. 

  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 287 Deckhand
    “The Sky is falling, the sky is falling!” If you think the remote possibility of catching a snook in a four inch slot and keeping it would make a dent in the overall population then I have some swamp land I’d love to sell you😉
  • EnyarEnyar Posts: 83 Greenhorn

    Also I highly doubt that the water is even closest to being the clearest in the state. Not only is the population booming in our area but runoff and pollution is increasing exponentially every year. I’ll do some more research but I’ll confidently say the health of Tampa bay and neighboring regions have deteriorating water quality that’s spiraling out of control causing the issues you’ve said. 

    Im not arguing the fishing is getting worse, it is in some places however the solution isn’t tightening regulations that are already ignored, but rather a strict crackdown and a focus on protecting our very special environment by preventing and dissuading the rapid increasing in people fishing. Most of them won’t have any luck but even a blind squirrel will find an acorn, and every year we have millions of blind squires fishing our coast. 
    I think you're underestimating how bad Tampa Bay was in the 80s. Mangrove shorelines and natural areas may have decreased but water quality and grass has most definitely improved. 
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,799 Admiral

    If catching 6 16" reds in 3 hours is good for you than so be it. Good for you. When I mean schools of Reds, I am talking about the 100s of upper and over slot fish that would show up August-October in big herds.

    Reducing limits always increases the population. Sometimes they can go to far and end up with overpopulation of a species. Red Snapper for example.

    As far as water quality, I can't speak for the Tampa bay waters, however from the studies that have been done on grass flats, the health of the grass in Tampa Bay hasn't been this good in decades. What I can speak for is Sarasota and Bradenton has some of the clearest water in the state. Certain times of the year it can be a struggle to catch fish in some areas because of its clarity. I've said to my buddies many times, we have to move and find some dirty water.

    Everyone who's been fishing here the last 5 years has seen the massive decrease in Red population. It's not new news.

    but, but, but the net ban was supposed to fix all that?

    Commercial wasn't the problem at all as the rec fisher continue their slaughter.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,799 Admiral
    permit_me said:
    .
    What would really need to be studied is the population structure of the large breeders offshore, where they are and how many.  It is possible that due to pressure they remain in deeper waters mostly.  


    it's been done (thank a commercial fisherman).

    http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/fish/red-drum/red-drum-spawning/
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,292 Admiral

    Thank them for what? Nearly collapsing the resource at one time? Commercial boats are used for that purpose simply because they have the gear to do it with. (please read the article A#1 posted) They wouldn’t do it if they weren’t paid.

    A few years ago, the FWC was considering some closed months for red fish due to what they call a reduction in escapement. Myself and others argued against this tightening of the regulations because they couldn’t tell us anything about the spawning stock in the gulf since they were now protected from the commercial purse seines that nearly wiped them out. If escapement is down, so what, there is still and always will be a health breeding stock of fish. We need to know what is out there in order to really know the health of this fish. The FWC saw this too and that is why they are now conducting these studies.

    Mullet in our inshore waters was also a victim of commercial craze when they found a new market for the fish’s roe, the fish still aren’t worth much but the roe is very valuable. I for one am glad gill nets are gone from our coastal waters and by the way the commercial guys are going just fine landing more mullet than they can sell using the allowed gear during mullet roe season.


    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 1,311 Officer
    edited December 2018 #19
    5th gen.  I grew up here.  Been here over 40 years.  Got my fishing career started barefoot and waist deep on the shores of boca ciega bay at the tail end of the seventies.  Never had a problem catching redfish, or anything really, through the eighties.  BUT, I NEVER saw huge schools of redfish in the bay.  After the net ban and then a little over a decade later I was mesmerized by massive schools of redfish.  There was no doubt.
    Then, just about a decade ago, those schools started diminishing.  Simple explanation again.  Too many dang people. Period.  We're screwed there.  Too many people don't follow the rules and there isn't enough enforcement.  Only going to get worse and worse.  The net ban just stalled the inevitable.  Giving us a glimpse of what was possible before it was swept away again.
    But, still gotta watch those with financial interests when it comes to our recreational fishing.  They see recreational catch as a threat to their business and stepping on their 'shares'.  Adding pressure.  Even game species, which should be protected from those influences (for a good reason) are coming under threat from some unscrupulous guides.  They're pushing catch and release only and it even affected this closure.  Those game species, btw, were so declared to protect the public's right to that resource from commercial entities who would just as well deplete it.
    Wanna know how all this was really decided?  Watch for yourselves
    Redtide presentation begins 58:50
    Impact on fish (snook/red drum) 1:35:45
    Public statements 1:54:55
    Wanna see how the closure got extended to Pasco willy nilly?  skip ahead to 2:35:40-2:41:50, then watch public comments...
    Guides, that support catch and release only, got Pasco shut down from harvest.  You guys have any red tide up there???

    All this talk about trout lol When there's bait in the bay, if you can't catch trout all day long, you should take up another hobby! rotflmao

  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    Thanks for the link. I'm about half way through it. I'll watch the rest tonight.
  • lukkyracerlukkyracer Posts: 689 Officer
    So much for tbat. I couldn't get through the public comments part. Maybe it's just me but wow.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 5,292 Admiral
    The net ban didn't have anything to do with the purse seine netting of red fish off shore for the blackened red fish craze, different fishery and resulted in a closure of red fish for a period of time. Net ban only effects state waters.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 1,311 Officer
    edited December 2018 #23
    True. But what fish love to mix it up with mullet?
    Btw, i dont think it was just the net ban that led to the rebound. Better recreational regulation (slot/limit) as well. And it didnt just help redfish.
  • winderbillwinderbill Posts: 287 Deckhand
    edited December 2018 #24
    Gill nets were devastating to game fish populations prior to the net ban. One gill net strategically set could wipe out an entire population of juvenile redfish, trout, and snook. Mosquito Lagoon was nearly devoid of trout and reds prior to the ban taking effect and rebounded almost immediately following with the exact same recreational limits in place as before. The carrying capacity of the environment will determine how many snook survive with recreational angling having near zero impact, One female snook will lay up to 1.5 million eggs per spawn and may spawn twenty times or more during the summer. I've cleaned snook with baby snook in their stomachs! That one slot fish you may keep would probably eat more future brood fish than you'll catch in your lifetime. But be sure to feel good about all the faux recreational slots so the Charlotte Harbor guides will have an abundance of trophies available for their clients :D
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 1,311 Officer
    edited December 2018 #25
    Actually funny thing, I never caught a snook in the eighties.. never.  I think maybe hooked one that spit the hook once and caught a 12-16" in the cast net once.  So I was wrong about being able to catch anything as a kid. 
    Now.. can't hardly catch anything but them!  They are everywhere around the mouth of the bay.  Everywhere!
    btw, the closure till May means no keeping Snook till September..... in case, anyone missed that
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 1,311 Officer
    @winderbill Not sure what happened on your coast but I assure you, recreational slots make good sense.  That being said, I agree they are WAY too tight. 
    It's known that the current redfish slot isn't at all necessary for the health of the fishery.  It is absolutely to improve the 'quality' of fishing.  That is the intent.
  • Kokosing LoverKokosing Lover Posts: 560 Officer
    ANUMBER1 said:
    permit_me said:
    .
    What would really need to be studied is the population structure of the large breeders offshore, where they are and how many.  It is possible that due to pressure they remain in deeper waters mostly.  


    it's been done (thank a commercial fisherman).

    http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/fish/red-drum/red-drum-spawning/
    They don't need thanks for that; they got paid for their time and boat at a rate well exceeding what they would have made seining threads and sardines on those days.  Nice that they stepped up to try something different, but it wasn't done out of charity.
  • HookIHookI Posts: 102 Deckhand
    Been a fisherman since the early 1960's from Canada to South America , part time resident of Tampa area & NY , fish the striper surf beaches Cape Cod , Montaulk , Trout Streams of the Catskills , Bahama fats , Caribbean ,fresh water bass fishing Tarpon Lake , Lake Champlain , St. Lawrence river .& Tampa &  Crystal River I can go on .  The importance of clean water is the most valuable production of the ecosystem known to man , Ask anyone on the planet that's been involved with clean water will tell you. ITS WHERE LIFE BEGINS = GROWS . Its compulaction between politics & industrial & residential citizens is just like Washington DC . it's a mess . Chemicals kill . This is where most should start to criticize others who are committing these acts . 
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 975 Officer
    There are still plenty of fish around if you know what you're doing. The people that really complain about over fishing and pressure are using it as an excuse for being lousy fishermen :smile:

    The reality is - fish have tails. They swim, they move, they won't always be in the same exact place. 
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,247 Admiral
    Ton of Snook around and there are Reds if know where to look, but reality is they both got hit hard with the red tide, especially the Reds.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 9,799 Admiral
    net ban was just a small band aid on a gaping wound.

    it's still gushing too, ain't commercials fault either.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
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