Fishing News


Recreational Red Snapper Season Has Begun!
The recreational red snapper season started June 17 in Gulf state and federal waters off Florida and will remain open through July 31 with 12 days in the fall.

The Gulf federal season for for-hire operations with federal reef fish permits begins June 1 and will close at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 19.

For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit may also participate in the season, but are limited to fishing for red snapper in Gulf state waters only.

If you plan to fish for red snapper in any state or federal waters off Florida from a private recreational vessel, even if you are exempt from fishing license requirements, you must sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal required). Sign up at To learn more, visit

When catching red snapper and other deep-water fish, look out for symptoms of barotrauma (injuries caused by a change in pressure), such as the stomach coming out of the mouth, bloated belly, distended intestines and bulging eyes. When releasing fish with barotrauma, use a descending device or venting tool to help them survive and return to depth. Learn more at

To learn more about the recreational red snapper season in Gulf state and federal waters, including season size and bag limits, visit and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers,” which is under the “Regulations by Species – Reef Fish” tab. Looking to keep up to date on Florida’s saltwater fishing regulations? Find them on Fish Rules App. Learn more at or follow Fish Rules at or

2022 Lionfish Challenge!
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announces the 2022 Lionfish Challenge tournament, which ends Sept. 6. The Lionfish Challenge is a summer-long lionfish tournament open to competitors around Florida. The goal is to remove as many lionfish as possible in three-and-a-half months. Participants will compete in either the commercial or the recreational division. Prizes will be awarded in tiers as follows: Tier 1, harvest 25 lionfish (recreational category) or 25 pounds of lionfish (commercial category); tier 2, harvest 100 lionfish (recreational category) or 250 pounds of lionfish (commercial category); tier 3, harvest 300 lionfish (recreational category) or 500 pounds of lionfish (commercial category); and tier 4, harvest 600 lionfish (recreational category) or 1000 pounds of lionfish (commercial category). To read the full tournament rules or register, visit

Return ‘Em Right; Conserve our Fisheries for the Future
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has launched Return ‘Em Right, a multi-entity effort in our Gulf to promote best fishing practices that increase the survival of released reef fish. The initiative is led by Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, and a coalition of anglers, industry groups, universities, government and non-government organizations committed to maintaining healthy fish stocks and fishing access.

Return ‘Em Right includes proper fish handling and use of venting tools or descending devices to mitigate barotrauma, a condition seen in many fish caused by the expansion of gases in the swim bladder when brought up from deeper depths. Barotrauma can be fatal for fish and signs include the stomach coming out of the mouth, bulging eyes, bloated belly and distended intestines.

Visit to review best release practices. Gulf Anglers 18 and older who target reef fish can receive a free package of release gear from Return ‘Em Right. Obtain your State Reef Fish Angler designation before heading out. If you plan to fish for or harvest certain reef fish species in Gulf or Atlantic waters from a private recreational vessel (includes anglers over 65), you must sign up for this no-cost designation and renew it annually. Learn more at and sign up today at or anywhere you can purchase a Florida fishing license.

Major Milestone: Genetically Pure Hatchery-Raised Shoal Bass Release
Freshwater fisheries researchers and managers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released 3,300 hatchery-raised shoal bass fingerlings (young fish) into the Chipola River in May.

In 2018, Hurricane Michael depleted more than 90 percent of its shoal bass population, the last genetically pure population of shoal bass in the world. Afterward, the FWC passed an Executive Order that suspended harvest and possession of shoal bass that in 2019, was adopted into rule.