FWC's Fishing in the Know - January 2018


January 2018

FWC's Fishing in the Know

Division of Marine Fisheries Management Monthly Newsletter

Revive exhausted fish by placing them in the water, one hand under the belly, and the other holding the bottom lip or tail. For anchored vessels, point the fish head-first into the current. If the vessel is not anchored or there isn’t a current, hold the fish in the water alongside the boat and gently nudge the boat into gear. If fishing from a non-motorized vessel such as a kayak, move the fish head-first in a figure “8” motion.

red drum

Peyton Naylor with his red rum catch.

Submit your photos by emailing them to Saltwater@MyFWC.comLearn more about our photo guidelines.

Commission Meeting – December

Marine Fisheries items discussed Dec. 5-7

Information: The FWC Commission listened to public testimony on and discussed several marine fisheries management items at the Dec. 5-7 meeting in Gainesville.

Final action:

Spiny lobster: Commissioners directed FWC staff to waive annual spiny lobster trap certificate fees for the 2018-19 license year to assist commercial spiny lobster fishers still recovering from losses due to Hurricane Irma.

Cobia: Changes approved to create a management boundary in state waters for cobia between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean by defining all waters north of the Monroe-Collier county line as Gulf state waters, reduce the commercial daily bag limit from two to one fish per person in Gulf state waters, and reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit from six to two per vessel per day in Gulf state waters. These changes are effective Feb. 1, 2018.

Greater amberjack: Changes approved to set the recreational harvest season to open May 1-31 and Aug. 1 - Oct. 31 each year. Similar changes are pending in Gulf federal waters.

Draft rule discussions (these items will be brought back to a future meeting for final decision):

Bay scallops: Draft changes to create regionally-specific bay scallop harvest seasons. Proposed long-term regional seasons that, if adopted, would remain the same annually include:

Dixie County and a portion of Taylor County (including the Steinhatchee area, Keaton Beach and Dekle Beach): Open the third Saturday in June - Sept. 10

Levy, Citrus, and Hernando counties: July 10 - Sept. 10

All other open areas including Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and northwestern Taylor counties: July 1 - Sept. 24

Proposed season dates and locations that, if adopted, would be implemented by Executive Order for 2018 only include:

St. Joseph Bay and all of Gulf County: Aug. 17 - Sept. 30 (long-term changes expected to be established once the population is more fully rebuilt).

Pasco County: July 20-29 (this is a trial season, state waters off Pasco County have been closed since 1994).

Permit: Draft change to lengthen the permit spawning season closure inside the Special Permit Zone in south Florida by adding April to the existing May through July closure.


2017 hurricane response and recovery report

Gulf red snapper recreational season staff report

Federal fishery management updates

Links for more information:

Agenda [MyFWC.com]

News Releases [MyFWC.com]

Gag Grouper

Season closes in all state and federal Gulf and Atlantic waters Jan. 1

Information: The recreational harvest season for gag closes in all Gulf and Atlantic state and federal waters Jan. 1.

Atlantic state (including Monroe County) and federal waters will reopen to harvest May 1. Gulf state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will reopen April 1 and all other Gulf state waters and all Gulf federal waters will reopen June 1.

Link for more information:

Grouper [MyFWC.com]

Atlantic Grouper

Season closes Jan. 1

Information: Several species of grouper will close to recreational and commercial harvest starting Jan. 1 in Atlantic state waters, including Monroe County, and Atlantic federal waters. This seasonal closure includes gag, black, red, yellowmouth, and yellowfin grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby.

The harvest of these species of grouper in Atlantic state waters will remain closed through April 30, reopening May 1.

Link for more information:

Grouper [MyFWC.com]

Greater Amberjack – Gulf

Recreational season will reopen May 1

Information: The greater amberjack recreational season in Gulf state waters will remain closed through April 30, and will reopen to harvest May 1-31 and Aug. 1-Oct. 31.

Link for more information:

Amberjack [MyFWC.com]

Gray Triggerfish – Gulf

Season will reopen March 1

Information: Recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state waters will remain closed in Gulf state waters through Feb. 28, 2018, reopening March 1. The season will also close June 1 through July 31.

When the season reopens, the daily recreational bag limit will be 1 fish per person (lowered from 2 fish earlier this year), and the minimum size limit will be 15 inches fork length (increased from 14 inches fork length earlier this year). Similar changes for Gulf federal waters are pending final approval.

Link for more information:

Gray triggerfish [MyFWC.com]

Blue Crab Trap Closure

St. Johns River seasonal closures

Information: Recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed from all waters of the St. Johns River system before Jan. 16. Traps can be placed back in the water Jan. 26.

This regional blue crab trap closure allows FWC to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from Florida waters. Lost and abandoned traps can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water, can damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards.

Harvest of blue crabs by other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps, is permitted during the closure. Traps attached to private property such as a dock are not included in the closure and may remain in the water.

Links for more information:

Blue Crab [MyFWC.com]

FWC needs your feedback

Information: FWC is collecting feedback on several fisheries issues including shrimp, flounder, and trap fisheries.

Provide comments on these or other fisheries online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Link for more information:

Saltwater Comments [MyFWC.com]

Angler recognition logo

Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs

Catch a Florida Memory today

Information: These three programs encourage 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:



Commission Meeting – December

Gag grouper

Atlantic grouper

Greater amberjack – Gulf

Gray triggerfish – Gulf

Blue crab trap closure

FWC needs your feedback

Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs


January - February 

State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf and from shore to 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic.  

Jan. 1 – Gag (Gulf & Atlantic) closes

Jan. 1 – Several grouper species (Atlantic) close

Jan. 1 – Greater amberjack (Gulf) remains closed

Jan. 1 – Gray triggerfish (Gulf) remains closed

Jan. 16-25 – Blue crab trap closure (St. Johns River)

Feb. 1 – Snook (Atlantic) opens



Bazil Albrighton with a snook catch.


January - February

Lionfish Events Calendar

 Feb. 3: Women’s Fishing Clinic – St. George Island

Feb. 7-8: Commission Meeting – Tallahassee

Feb. 17: Women’s Fishing Clinic – Jacksonville

Feb. 18: Adult Fishing Clinic - Jacksonville

Feb. 24: Kids’ Fishing Clinic – Crystal River


lionfish sponsors

Reef Rangers: We are excited to announce a new tagged-lionfish removal incentive program that will launch in May 2018 and coincide with our annual Lionfish Challenge.

Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this idea a reality. The American Sportfishing AssociationBoatUSYamaha MotorNational Marine Manufacturers AssociationMarine Industries Association of Palm Beach County and Coastal Conservation Association Florida!

Be sure to visit MyFWC.com/Lionfish in the next few months for more program details.

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Youtube: MyFWC.com/SaltwaterFishing

    Contact: 850-487-0554 or marine@myfwc.com

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