Fish managers set AJ, snapper and snook regs

Snook season is closed in the Atlantic (reopens
Snook season is closed in the Atlantic (reopens Feb. 1, 2016) and the Gulf of Mexico (reopens March 1, 2016). Fish managers adopted rules changes for a number of species.

Pencil in More Changes

Fish managers adjust rules in state and Federal waters.

By Jerry McBride

Florida and Federal fish managers have demonstrated once again why anglers should only use erasable pencils to jot down what species are allowable to harvest.

When the season reopens Jan. 1, kayak anglers chasing greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico waters will need a bigger cooler in both state and federal waters. Florida state managers followed the new federal guidelines, increasing the legal minimum length from 30 to 34 inches. The new rules were enacted so a greater percentage of the overfished species will reach sexual maturity prior to harvest. Total annual allowable catch has also been reduced from 1,780,000 to 1,720,000 pounds. When that limit is reached, the season will close, which occurred Sept. 28 in 2015.

Fish managers hope that by increasing the minimum length for AJs, the recreational harvest season may be extended. The Atlantic minimum length remains at 28 inches. A 1-fish bag limit remains in effect in both the Atlantic and Gulf.

Conversely, on the Atlantic coast, the gray triggerfish minimum length has been reduced from 14 to 12 inches in state waters (out to 3 miles), with a 10-fish bag limit—but only until October 31, 2016, when the stock will be reassessed. Like I said, write it down in pencil.

Kayakers need to keep in mind that Florida's snook harvest season closed in Gulf of Mexico waters Dec. 1, and will reopen March 1, 2016. Atlantic snook season closedDec. 15, and will reopen Feb. 1.

Finally, should the Secretary of Commerce approve, Amendment 28 will reallocate 352,000 pounds of Gulf of Mexico red snapper from commercial to recreational use in 2016. Kayakers would especially welcome the additional fish, as the northern Gulf is one of the few areas where the prized offshore catch is accessible to the plastic navy.