TAMPA, Fla. — Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout are catch-and-release only in Tampa Bay from now until September 16 due to red tide.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced the temporary change on Friday.
“While it’s unfortunate that we must do this so close to the recent reopening of these species to harvest in this area, we know temporary catch-and-release measures such as these are successful in keeping fisheries sustainable throughout red tide events such as this one,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. “We will continue working with our partners, stakeholders and local communities to evaluate this situation.”
It applies to the following areas:
- All Florida waters of Manatee County north of State Road 64, including all waters of the Braden River, and all tributaries of the Manatee River, excluding all waters of Palma Sola Bay.
- All Florida waters of Hillsborough County.
- All Florida waters of Pinellas County, excluding all waters of the Anclote River and its tributaries.
“We’ve seen the devastation to the redfish, trout and snook populations in Tampa Bay, and we support the catch-and-release initiative taken by FWC,” stated Brian Gorski, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association Florida. “In working with FWC on this initiative, we’ve heard support from members and guides throughout the region who also understand the need for such a change. We must protect the fish and our waterways so that generations to come can enjoy the thrill of catching one of these iconic species.”
Regulations outside of those counties remain unchanged, including the measures south of State Road 64 in Manatee County through Gordon Pass in Collier County for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout.
Local fishing guides say the limitations are "very significant," adding that it's critical to keep the harvest closed for the sake of the fish species.
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