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Snook reopens Feb. 1 in Atlantic state waters

Fishing in Northeastern Florida has more options starting in February

Capt Don Dingman, of Hook The Future TV, releases a healthy snook
Capt Don Dingman, of Hook The Future TV, releases a healthy snook

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Snook is slated to reopen for recreational harvest on Feb. 1 in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters (from the Miami-Dade/Monroe county line north), including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River.

Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World.

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages anglers to carefully handle and release snook that are not going to be kept, which can help ensure their survival upon release.

Circle hooks are one oof the best ways anglers can protect the fish they are catching. Circle hooks are 90% more likely to hook fish in the mouth instead of in the esophagus or stomach, which reduces internal harm, decreases dehooking time, and lessens the chances of the angler needing to leave the hook in the fish.

Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, click here and then click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”

 

The season will remain open through May 31.

In the Atlantic, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 32 inches total length, measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license, unless the angler is exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.

It is illegal to buy or sell snook.

Researchers ask anglers who harvest snook to save a remaining portion of their fish after it has been filleted and provide it to the FWC by dropping it off at a participating bait and tackle store. This program allows anglers to participate in the collection of data, such as the size, age, maturity and sex, of one of Florida's premier inshore fish. For a county-by-county list of drop-off locations, click here and then click on “Saltwater,” “Snook” under the heading “Saltwater Fish,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”

For more information about snook, click here and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”

Capt Don Dingman, of Hook The Future TV, shows off his young angler's catch, a trophy snook.
Capt Don Dingman, of Hook The Future TV, shows off his young angler's catch, a trophy snook.

Handling Fish Properly

  • Handle fish as little as possible and only with wet hands. This reduces the removal of fish slime, which protects the fish from infection and aids in swimming.
  • Match tackle to the targeted fish to land it quickly and minimize stress on the fish. Large species such as sharks, billfish and tarpon should be brought alongside the boat within 20 minutes of being hooked. If you are consistently landing exhausted fish that require extensive efforts to resuscitate, consider using heavier tackle.  
  • A knotless, rubber-coated landing net is ideal when handling a fish since it supports the fish’s body weight.
  • Remember, fish swim horizontally! Never hold a fish by its jaw, gills or eyes.
  • Large fish, such as tarpon, should not be boated or dragged over the gunwale of the boat because this could injure the internal organs of the fish.
  • When holding a fish that has teeth, use a gripping tool to support the front of the fish, and use the other hand under the belly to evenly support the fish's weight.
  • Never hold on to or tow a fish not allowed to be harvested to a different location to weigh or measure it.
  • Carefully remove the hook if possible. If the fish is gut-hooked or especially large or agitated, cut the line as close to the hook as you can while the fish is still in the water.
  • Reduce handling by using a dehooking tool. Dehooking tools allow anglers to quickly release their catch while minimizing injuries and handling time. 
  • Always release your fish head first into the water. This allows water to be forced through the mouth and over the gills, essentially giving it a “breath of fresh air.”

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