Off The Hook: Spring Fishing

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Gray Triggerfish is Open in Gulf State and Federal Waters
The recreational gray triggerfish season reopened to harvest in Gulf state and federal waters March 1, and will remain open through May 1, closing to harvest May 2. If you plan to fish for gray triggerfish in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required).

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Learn more about gray triggerfish regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Triggerfish,” which is under the “Reef Fish” tab. NOAA Fisheries recently announced that the Gulf recreational gray triggerfish fishery is estimated to meet its quota in early May, prompting an early quota closure in federal waters of May 2. At its February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved also closing recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in state waters when Gulf federal waters close.

Snook Open to Recreational Harvest in Some Gulf Waters
The recreational harvest season for snook opened March 1 in some Gulf waters, including Escambia through Hernando counties, and waters south of Gordon Pass in Collier County through Monroe County (also includes Everglades National Park). Unique to the region, snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World.

Snook remains catch-and-release only in state waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County (includes all of Pasco County, Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County) through May 31, 2021, in response to the impacts of a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019. Because snook has a May 1-Aug. 31 annual season closure, this species would reopen Sept. 1, 2021.

Seasonal harvest closures and anglers using proper handling methods when practicing catch-and-release help conserve Florida’s valuable snook populations and can ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more and see a video about catch-and-release fishing and the best way to handle a fish, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and then “Fish Handling Tips.”
Visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “snook” for more information on snook. Improve data and report your catch on the Angler Action Foundation iAngler app at AnglerActionFoundation.com.

Mark your Calendars: 2020 Lionfish Festival May 16-17
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is excited to announce the 6th annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival May 16 and 17 at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin. Come out and celebrate the fight against invasive lionfish with the FWC and Destin – Fort Walton Beach.

Activities will include fillet demonstrations; family-friendly games and activities; art, diving and conservation booths; and the world’s largest lionfish spearfishing tournament, the Emerald Coast Open. Satisfy your taste buds by visiting any of the participating locations of Lionfish Restaurant Week (May 11-14). Learn more by visiting FWCReefRangers.com. Do you harvest lionfish? Register for the Emerald Coast Open lionfish tournament at emeraldcoastopen.com. Are you interested in being a volunteer or sponsor? Learn more at
EmeraldCoastOpen.com.