It’s time for anglers to load up their reels, gas up their Boston Whalers and head to the Gulf of Mexico to pursue the one that got away.
TAMPA BAY, FL — It’s time for anglers to load up their reels, gas up their Boston Whalers and head to the Gulf of Mexico to pursue the one that got away last year.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the opening of saltwater fishing season for gray triggerfish and snook.
The recreational harvest season for snook also opens 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).
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.
Unique to the region, snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. 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 generations to come.
Snook have a large mouth with a protruding lower jaw that reaches below the rear portion of the eye. It has a sloping forehead, high dorsal fin that is divided, a black lateral line that extends onto the tail and a yellow pelvic fin.
Snook can each up to 48 inches long and 50 pounds (the state record is 44 pounds, 3 ounces, caught near Ft. Myers).
Snook are found in inshore coastal waters, including mangrove shorelines, seagrass beds, beaches and around structures. They feed on fish and large crustaceans.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will extend catch-and-release measures for snook, red drum and spotted seatrout for an additional year via an Executive Order. All three species will remain catch-and-release through May 31, 2021, in all waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County.
These temporary regulation changes were made to help conserve these popular inshore species that were negatively impacted by a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019.
The recreational gray triggerfish season reopens to harvest in Gulf state and federal waters March 1, and will remain open through May 1.
The gray triggerfish is olive-gray in color with plate-like scales, a small mouth with chisel-like teeth for crushing, marbled dorsal and anal fins, upper and lower lobes of the tail elongated in large adults and young have large dark spots on the back. They grow up to 17 inches long and can be found in reefs, ledges and hard bottoms in depths of more than 80 feet.
If you plan to fish for gray triggerfish in state or federal waters, excluding Monroe County, from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required).
Learn more about gray triggerfish regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Triggerfish,” which is under the “Reef Fish” tab.