The South Atlantic recreational red snapper mini-season opens this Friday August 10th for two consecutive 3-day weekends. The bag limit for the recreational sector is one fish per person per day with no minimum size limit. This is a great opportunity both for recreational fishermen to bring home a red snapper for dinner and for researchers to collect much needed biological data. Since the fishery has been closed, it’s been difficult for researchers to collect biological data about this species.
Providing Biological Data to Researchers
During the open weekends, from August 10-12 and 17-19, fishermen can help researchers collect biological data from any fish that is harvested. Along the east coast of Florida, researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will be greeting recreational anglers at boat ramps and marinas. They will conduct short interviews about the fishing trip. They will also ask for permission to collect biological data from the harvested fish. Biological samples such as otoliths (ear bones), used to age fish, provide valuable data for future stock assessments and management decisions. Any information collected in Florida will be provided to the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) for the next red snapper stock assessment.
Log Your Trip
Recreational anglers can also report and log information about their fishing trip and catches through the MyFishCount mobile app. The app is available for free at Google Play and Apple Store or through the MyFishCount website. This app was developed to help provide information that was not previously collected during other monitoring programs. Fishermen can report information about their fishing activities, including species kept and released, gear used, and much more. Anglers can also report if they had to abandon a trip due to poor weather conditions. Last year, weather data provided by anglers contributed to the decision to allow for additional fishing days in the 2017 red snapper mini-season.
Catch and Release Practices
Since anglers can only keep one fish per person per day, it’s important to consider catch and release practices. Plan ahead, and make sure you have the correct equipment needed to properly release fish exhibiting signs of barotrauma. Have either a venting tool or a descending device on board for helping a fish get back down. Venting uses a sharp, hollow instrument that can puncture the body cavity wall and release gas that has expanded within the swim bladder upon ascent. Descending uses a weighted device, that attaches to or encloses the fish, and recompresses expanded gas within the fish’s body by forcibly returning it to depth. Both options are effective if applied correctly. Choose the one that is best for you and make sure you know how to use it correctly.
Also know how to properly handle a fish if you’re getting a picture of your catch. Minimize handling time and return the fish to the water as quickly as possible. When handling a fish, use wet hands (never use a towel) to prevent removal of the fish’s protective slime coating. It is best to take pictures of fish while they are still in the water. If you must take the fish out of the water, always support its weight horizontally. Never lift a fish by its jaw. Don’t touch the gills and never hold a fish by its gill cover.
Lastly have fun and enjoy your day on the water!