Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Strict regulation means fishing more for fun than food

There's a good reason I haven't killed a snook in more than 25 years.
The species is so heavily regulated I just don't think it makes sense for me to kill them. The snook season is only open six months a year. And when it's open, anglers may keep one fish per day as long as it's between 28 and 32 inches here on the Gulf Coast.
Ditto for redfish and trout, two more heavily regulated species.
Although there are no closed seasons for redfish (like the one being released in the photo), there is a bag limit (one per day) and a slot limit (18 to 27 inches).

Spotted seatrout season is closed November and December. Bag limit when the season is open is four and the slot limit is 15 to 20 inches. For some reason, there's a trophy provision which allows anglers to have one trout of more than 20 inches among their limit.
From Dec. 15 to Jan. 1, Florida anglers on the West Coast legally can keep only one redfish. Trout and snook are out of season.
I haven't killed a redfish or trout in years, either. When I want to keep a fish to eat, I'll take home a pompano, Spanish mackerel, flounder or mangrove snapper. If I get to fish offshore, I don't mind keeping a snapper or kingfish. Those species appear to be in good shape.
I'll occasionally get a call from someone interested in a kayak charter who wants to keep fish.
"Got some folks coming in and we need enough fish for a fish fry," they'll say. "So, we'll probably need at least a limit of trout, pompano and Spanish mackerel.
"We wouldn't mind a snook or a redfish, either."
That's when I tell them that I'm not the guide they need. I thank them and then give them the number of another guide.
I'm proud that I've got a catch-and-release policy. The reason is because I don't feel that killing snook, reds and trout is a good idea. In addition, fish storage in a kayak is limited. Plus, there are no cleaning stations at most places with launch.
Most of my clients are very understanding. If someone just has to kill a fish, then they'll do it with another guide.