New rules in effect North Central Florida saltwater anglers should know
Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 11:36 p.m.
North Central Florida saltwater anglers should be aware of the new rules now in effect to manage red grouper, dolphin and wahoo.
The daily recreational bag limit for red grouper now is two fish per person (within the five-fish aggregate grouper limit) in Gulf state waters. This limit also applies in Gulf federal waters. Florida state waters extend nine nautical miles offshore in the Gulf, and federal waters extend beyond state waters.
The new limit on red grouper is intended to help rebuild red grouper stocks in the Gulf. The minimum size limit for red grouper remains at 20 inches total length and the daily bag limit in Atlantic Ocean state waters is still five fish per person (under the five-grouper aggregate limit).
In addition, new management rules are in place for dolphin and wahoo. These rules are intended to be consistent with recently implemented regulations for those species in Atlantic federal waters, which were developed to prevent over-fishing of these species.
The FWC has also implemented other measures to protect dolphin and wahoo in state waters. The new rules include: Establishing a 20-inch fork length minimum size limit for the harvest of dolphin on the Atlantic coast, a statewide maximum limit of 60 dolphin per vessel (except 10 dolphin per paying passenger on party boats); and a statewide daily two-fish bag limit for wahoo.
Gainesville's Benny Beckham was the big winner of the recent Bassmasters of Gator Country club tournament with a five-bass limit weighing 14.18 pounds. Local builder Tommy Waters took second with 12.12 pounds. Shawn Bulcher finished third with 8.49 pounds, followed by Mike Dumus (7.5 pounds) and Bob Herron (7.45 pounds).
The event was a trailer tournament where the anglers could fish the waters of their choice. Both Beckham and Waters reportedly fished the Rainbow River.
The Bassmasters meet at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month at L&S Auto Trim in Gainesville. New members, both boat owners and non-owners, are welcome. For more information, call Doug Robinson at 352-371-2436.
With Rodman Reservoir well below normal pool during the drawdown project, there are plenty of bass to be caught. But fishermen are reminded that all bass must immediately be released. That stipulation will end on April 1.
"What no-harvest means is that anyone who catches a bass at Rodman Reservoir must immediately release back into the lake" said Sam McKinney, biological administrator for the FWC's Division of Freshwater Fisheries in Ocala. "They may not put it in a livewell or hang it on a stringer. They must take it off the hook and put it back in the water pronto."
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