By Pam Anderson
Amberjack season opened May 1 and runs through May 31! Start working out now to reel those big ones in! We can still harvest Triggerfish in May and we are seeing really good-sized ones, but Amberjack? They are not for the faint-hearted when you hook them.
Each year as the summer season gets closer, anglers start planning their vacations and extra days off around the Red Snapper season. Your mode of getting to the Red Snapper will determine your ability to catch and keep this sought-after delicacy. Several years ago fishery managers divided the recreational industry into two ‘sectors’.
One is the private angler and (state) guide boat sector which consists of anglers/boat owners who do not carry a Federal For-Hire reef fish permit. Their seasons are determined by their individual state. Their permits are issued with the designation of whether they will fish for reef fish or not. They are randomly chosen by using that information from their licenses for the State Reef Fish Survey. The survey allows the State of Florida to manage the Red Snapper fishery with greater flexibility. If interested, you can connect with this Florida program at myfwc.com/research/saltwater/fishstats/srfs/program.
The second part of the recreational industry is the Federal For-Hire sector which carries permits for Federal reef fish and usually Coastal Migratory Pelagics (fish that travel/migrate from one place to another). This ‘sector’ takes locals and tourists fishing (paying customers) on head-boats and private charter boats. The Federal For-Hire sector must count all species caught or released and turn in that harvest data on daily reports submitted electronically before returning to the dock. They must hail in and hail out each time they leave the dock, even for maintenance or a personal family outing or possibly be fined or worse. The rules are very strict. Because their harvest data must be so complete and complex, the fishery managers can easily determine if they (as a sector) have overfished or underfished almost in real time. The For-hire sector has consistently underfished in recent years, so their seasons have been increasing.
Soooo…. When can we harvest Red Snapper?
Private angler/state guide boats can harvest Red Snapper June 16 through August 1, and then several weekends in the fall. The reason the FWC chose to split the season is they, as usual, were listening to the anglers. Many can only fish weekends, so more weekends, more fishing opportunities.
The Federal For-Hire Red Snapper season begins June 1 and runs consecutive days through midnight, August 18. It is best for those in this industry to provide fishing opportunities as many days as possible during tourist season.
Red Snapper is not the only fish in the sea worth keeping, even though it is probably the most popular in our area. Gag Grouper season opens June 1; also, Red Grouper will remain open. And, even though it may not be as famous a fish, Vermilion snapper is available year-round and a delicious mainstay of the local fishery.
Be sure to book your summer event soon at the beautiful Event Center, overlooking the beautiful Grand Lagoon. And, check out our new J’s Brewhouse with breakfast, sandwiches and drinks, Souvenir Shop and The Sugar Shack, dockside at the marina.
Signing off from,
Capt. Anderson’s Marina…Where the fish are always biting and the kids are always smiling.