Friday, June 30, 2017

FWC's Fishing in the Know - July

July 2017

FWC's Fishing in the Know

Division of Marine Fisheries Management Monthly Newsletter

Large fish, such as tarpon, should not be boated or dragged over the gunwale of the boat because this could injure the internal organs of the fish.
Cole holds a spotted seatrout
Cole shows off his great spotted seatrout catch.
Submit your photos by emailing them to

Red Snapper Season Updates – Gulf

Action: Recreational red snapper season dates have changed in Gulf state and federal waters
Information: The U.S. Department of Commerce recently expanded the recreational red snapper season for private anglers fishing in Gulf federal waters by 39-days. The FWC also set a similar recreational red snapper season in state waters, trading state days for federal days.
The state recreational and federal private recreational red snapper seasons will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays June 16 through Sept. 4, as well as Monday and Tuesday July 3 and 4, and Monday Sept. 4.
In Gulf state waters, this change applies to all recreational anglers, including those fishing from for-hire vessels.
In Gulf federal waters, the season change only applies to anglers fishing on private recreational vessels.  Federally permitted for-hire vessels have their own federal waters season open through July 19
In Florida Gulf state waters, the season will be closed Mondays through Thursdays through Sept. 4 with the exception of July 3, 4 and Sept. 4, and the season will not open in the fall.
Links for more information:
Snapper []

Commission Meeting – Orlando

Marine Fisheries items to be discussed July 10-11
Information: The FWC Commission will listen to public testimony on and discuss several marine fisheries management items at the July 10-11 meeting in Orlando. Commission meetings are open to the public.
Potential regulation changes (final decisions on these topics discussed July 11 may be made at this meeting):
  • Gag grouper: Proposed changes to open the recreational harvest of gag grouper in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. This action would add additional dates to the current April 1 through June 30 season for these four counties. Gulf state waters outside of that area (excluding Monroe County) and all Gulf federal waters are open June 1 through Dec. 31. A proposed change to make the commercial minimum size limit for gag grouper consistent with recent changes in federal waters will also be considered.
  • Gray triggerfish: Proposed changes to make regulations in Gulf state waters similar to recent changes in Gulf federal waters and to consider a 2017 limited fall season. Potential changes include increasing the recreational size limit from 14 to 15 inches fork length in Gulf state waters, decreasing the recreational bag limit from two to one fish per person per day in Gulf state waters, and creating a closed season from Jan. 1 through the end of February, while maintaining the June 1 through July 31 closed season that is already in place.
Draft regulation changes (these items will be discussed July 10 and if approved, will be brought back to a future meeting for final decision):
  • Sheepshead and Tripletail: Potential draft changes for statewide management of these two species includes extending management for sheepshead and tripletail into federal waters, reducing the daily recreational bag limit for sheepshead from 15 to five, creating a new commercial daily trip limit for sheepshead of 200 per person outside of peak spawning season, creating a 50 per person commercial trip limit and recreational bag limit during peak spawning months of March and April, increasing the minimum size limit for tripletail from 15 to 18 inches, and reducing the tripletail daily commercial trip limit to two fish per person.
  • Cobia: Potential draft changes to create a Gulf/Atlantic cobia management boundary defining all waters north of the Monroe-Collier county line as Gulf state waters, increase the minimum size limit in Gulf state waters from 33 inches to 38 inches fork length, reduce the commercial trip limit from two to one fish per person in Gulf state waters, and reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit to two per vessel per day in Gulf state waters.
  • Federal fishery Congressional (July 10) and management (July 11) updates
Links for more information:
Agenda []

Goliath Grouper Workshops

Action: Share your input on goliath grouper management
Information: FWC is hosting several workshops to gather public input on goliath grouper management, including the possibility of a limited harvest in Florida state waters.
Workshops will be from 5 to 8 p.m. local time the following dates and locations (see link below for details including event addresses):
  • July 31: Lake Worth
  • Aug. 1: Key West
  • Aug. 2: Marathon
  • Aug. 3: Key Largo
  • Aug. 8: Crystal River
  • Aug. 9: Carrabelle
  • Aug 16: Pensacola
  • Aug. 17: Panama City
  • Oct. 9: Jacksonville
  • Oct. 10: Titusville
  • Oct. 11: Stuart
  • Oct. 12: Davie
  • Oct. 16: Pinellas Park
  • Oct. 17: Port Charlotte
  • Oct. 18: Naples
If you cannot attend an in-person meeting, submit comments online by visiting Staff is working on a virtual workshop that should be available online in the near future.
Links for more information:
Workshops []

Gag Grouper – 4-county region

Action: Recreational harvest in 4-county region closes July 1
Information: The recreational gag grouper season in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties closes July 1, with the last day of harvest being June 30.
All other state and all federal Gulf of Mexico waters opened to recreational harvest June 1 and will remain open through Dec. 31, closing Jan. 1, 2017.
Monroe County follows Atlantic regulations and is open from May 1-Dec. 31.
The size limit for gag in Gulf state and federal waters is 24-inches total length and the daily bag limit is two fish per person within the four fish grouper aggregate bag limit.
At the July meeting in Orlando, FWC Commissioners will consider creating a fall open season (Sept. 1-Dec. 31) in this region.
Links for more information:
Grouper []

Bay Scallops

Action: More areas open to recreational harvest starting July 1
Information: The recreational season for bay scallops will be open in state waters from the western-most point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County through the Hernando-Pasco county line starting July 1. A span of waters in the middle from the Fenholloway River in Taylor County to the Suwannee River in Dixie County opened earlier this month on June 16 and will close Sept. 10.
The scallop season for St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County will be July 25 through Sept. 10 and includes all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.
All state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County, and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County will be open July 1 through Sept. 24.
Links for more information:
Scallops []

Scallopzone map 2017 small

Spiny Lobster Sport Season

Action: July 26-27 recreational season
Information: Spiny lobster will be open to recreational harvest in state waters July 26 and 27 for the sport season and will open for regular recreational and commercial harvest Aug. 6.
During the 2-day sport season, the recreational daily bag and on-the-water possession limit is six per person in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and is 12 per person in all other areas in Florida. Off the water, the possession limit is equal to the daily bag limit on the first day and is double the daily bag limit on the second day.
Want to take an extra spiny lobster per day during the sport season? Participate in the Lionfish Challenge. Remove 25 or more lionfish from Florida waters before the sport season to qualify. See below for more information.
Spiny lobster must have a carapace larger than 3 inches and when caught by diving, must be measured in the water. The carapace is measured beginning at the forward edge between the rostral horns, excluding any soft tissue, and proceeding along the middle to the rear edge of the carapace.
Night diving for spiny lobster is prohibited during the sport season in state waters off Monroe County.
Harvest is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season and in the Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay, the lobster sanctuary in Card Sound and the no-take areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and the regular season.
Links for more information:
Spiny Lobster []
Spiny Lobster measurement

2017 Lionfish Challenge

Action: Revamped program has commercial and recreational categories
Information: Remove 25 or more lionfish (or sell at least 25 pounds commercially) between Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (May 20, 2017) and Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2017) to enter the FWC’s Lionfish Challenge and be eligible to win prizes. The recreational and commercial harvesters who check in the most lionfish will be crowned Florida’s recreational Lionfish King or Queen and Commercial Champion, respectively.
Links for more information:
Lionfish Challenge []

Spotted Seatrout Workshops

Information: FWC staff will host several spotted seatrout workshops in July and August across the state to gather public input on management of this species. Dates and locations will be posted online at the link below soon.
If you cannot attend an in-person meeting, submit comments online by visiting
Links for more information:
Workshops []

FWC needs your feedback

Information: FWC is collecting feedback on several fisheries issues including shrimp, flounder, and trap fisheries.
Provide comments online at
Link for more information:
Saltwater Comments []

Gulf Reef Fish Survey

Attention Gulf Anglers
Information: Snapper and grouper season is here. That means it is time to sign up for or renew your participation in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. Registration for this survey is required for all anglers (including those exempt from licensing requirements) fishing from a private vessel for the following reef species in the Gulf: red and vermilion snapper; gag, red, and black grouper; greater and lesser amberjack; banded rudderfish; almaco jack; and gray triggerfish.
To renew online, visit
If you are NOT a Gulf reef fish angler and don’t plan on fishing for these reef species in the Gulf this year, please do not sign up or renew your participation in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. By only sampling anglers who plan on fishing for those species, Florida is improving recreational data collection. Questions? Contact us at
Links for more information:
Gulf Reef Fish Survey []

Blue Crab Trap Closures

Action: Trap closures slated for July 10-19 and July 20-29
Information: Two regional blue crab trap closures are coming up. During these closures, all blue crab traps must be removed from the water. These closures help FWC identify and retrieve lost and abandoned traps from the water.
On July 10-19, blue crab traps must be removed from all waters of Broward through Pasco counties.
On July 20-29, blue crab traps must be removed from all waters of Hernando through Wakulla counties, including all waters of the Ochlockonee River and Bay.
The harvest of blue crabs by other gear such as dip nets and fold-up traps is permitted. Traps that are attached to private property such as a dock are not included in the closures and can remain in the water. 
Links for more information:
Blue Crab Information []

FWC conducting descending device study

Information: A 3-month citizen-science descending device study is underway to help better determine what, if any, barriers exist when using the devices. Descending devices are used to help treat barotrauma, a condition that occurs when some fish are pulled up from waters deeper than 50 feet. The study will conclude in September.
Angler recognition logo

Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs

Catch a Florida Memory today
Information: Participation in any of these three programs encourages ethical angling while earning rewards for your efforts.
  • Saltwater Fish Life List: A list of 71 different species. Can you catch them all?
  • Saltwater Reel Big Fish: Recognition for extraordinarily-sized catches.
  • Saltwater Grand Slams: Earn rewards for catching three different specified species in a 24-hour period.
Link for more information:


Red Snapper Season Updates – Gulf
Commission Meeting – Orlando
Goliath Grouper Workshops
Gag Grouper – 4-county region
Bay Scallops
Spiny Lobster
2017 Lionfish Challenge
Spotted Seatrout Workshops
FWC needs your feedback
Gulf Reef Fish Survey
Blue Crab Trap Closures
Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs


July - August 

State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf and from shore to 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic.  
July 1 – Blue land crab closes
July 1-4, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 (see Aug. for more dates) - Red snapper (Gulf state and federal waters) open
July 26-27 – Spiny lobster sport-season
Aug. 4-6, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 (see July for more) - Red snapper (Gulf state and federal waters) open
Aug. 6 – Spiny lobster opens

Catch a Florida Memory family
Lily and Peyton Naylor took a photo with their photo, featured on the side of the Catch a Florida Memory van. Submit your fish photos and catches today at


July - August


Large flounder catch
Check out this Facebook post:
Flat Fish First!
We have our first qualifying Reel Big Flounder! Measuring in at 28.5 inches, this doormat was caught by Nicholas Odle in the fall of last year, but was just recently submitted. We're sure glad he did though because this fish is definitely recognition worthy!
Don't forget to check out our CAFM Club boards to see Nicholas and all our other club members.