OUTDOORS

Outdoors notebook: Tarpon tournament awaits ruling

 

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Pensacola, could take final action that would effectively put the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, held in Southwest Florida’s Boca Grande Pass in spring and summer, out of business.

Nearly all anglers in the televised catch-and-release tournament use circle hooks with weighted jigs attached at the bottom to hook tarpon. But commissioners concluded at a June meeting in Lakeland that the gear snags the fish rather than enticing them to bite.

The commission Thursday will discuss a final rule that would enhance the definition of snagging and prohibit the kinds of jigs now used in the Pass to catch tarpon.

Also, a new rule designating tarpon and bonefish as catch-and-release only species takes effect Sunday statewide.

The new measures: eliminate all harvest of tarpon in state waters unless it’s in pursuit of a world record and in conjunction with a tag; limit tags to one per person per year except for licensed fishing guides; allow temporary possession of small tarpon for photography and measurement while tarpon greater than 40 inches must be kept in the water; and eliminate an exemption allowing tournament anglers to transport bonefish to weigh scales.

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 <span class="cutline_leadin">A helping hand: </span>South Florida Congressman Joe Garcia helps Lloyd Louis, 9, cast his bait at the Rickenbacker Causeway during a recent outing with the Mahogany Youth Corporation.

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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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