Tarpon rule on FWC’s docket

 

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

Fireworks are likely at this week’s Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting in Lakeland.

Commissioners on Wednesday will take up a draft rule addressing the long-running controversy over using jigs as opposed to live bait to catch and release tarpon in Southwest Florida’s Boca Grande Pass.

The proposed rule would prohibit the use of a weighted jig attached to the bottom of a hook while fishing for tarpon or any other species in the pass. The rule also would broaden the definition of “snagging” or “snatch-hooking” tarpon statewide. The rule effectively bans the most popular type of tarpon fishing rig used by competitors in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series held in spring and summer in the pass. Live-baiters and jig fishers are expected to show up in force to testify.

Commissioners will make a decision on a separate rule designating tarpon and bonefish as catch-and-release-only species. They also will decide whether to reopen the snook harvest season Sept. 1 in the Gulf, Keys and Everglades National Park. That fishery has been closed since the killing freeze of January 2010.

The meeting runs from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Monitoring systems

• The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meets Monday through Friday in Stuart. On the agenda there: a controversial proposal to require commercial grouper-snapper fishers to install a monitoring system on their vessels that would let law enforcement officers know where they are at all times.

At a public hearing in April in Key Largo, fishermen voiced unanimous opposition to Amendment 30, saying it is too costly and might actually create a safety hazard.

The council is expected to vote on whether to forward the amendment to the Secretary of Commerce for adoption.

Susan Cocking

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    Captain Glyn Austin of Going Coastal Fishing Charters out of Sebastian reported that catch-and-release fishing for snook with live baits and artificial lures day and night has been outstanding in and around the Sebastian Inlet all the way north to the Patrick Air Force Base. Redfish and a few permits are biting in the Sebastian Inlet and are being caught on small blue crabs. Along the beaches, tarpon, bonito, jacks and sharks can be targeted all the way to Port Canaveral. These fish have been feeding along the big baitfish schools. Offshore reef fishing has been good for cobias and mangrove snappers up to 12 pounds.

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