However, the FWC has recently been reminding anglers about existing rules that are meant
to protect fish when they can't be taken.
Fish must be immediately released for several reasons. For example, there is no
allowable harvest of goliath grouper and Nassau grouper in Florida.
Tarpon may only be taken if a special tag is clipped to the fish's lower jaw. Several
species, such as snook, redfish and spotted seatrout, can be kept only at certain times and
When a fish isn't allowed to be harvested, it must immediately be returned to the water free,
alive, and unharmed. However, if a fish is allowed to be taken at a certain size limit, it's
okay to temporarily possess it to measure it, as long as it is measured immediately after
removing it from the water, and the fish is then immediately returned to the water free, alive,
and unharmed if it is not a legal-size fish.
Anglers should also use common sense when releasing fish. Sometimes it's better to
safely handle a fish to carefully remove the hook so it can be released, and other times it's
best to cut the line as close to the hook as possible while the fish is in the water -
especially if it's large or agitated.
It is okay to take a picture of a fish that is not allowed to be harvested while it's in the
process of being released, but it still must be let go immediately and should not be held in
lengthy poses just for the purpose of taking the picture. And it is never legal to hold on to or
tow a fish that is not allowed to be harvested to a place to weigh or measure it for a fishing
tournament or record.
The plain fact is that many of our most popular recreational fisheries are strictly regulated,
and because of this, many fish caught must be returned to the water. Most anglers would
agree that anything we can do to minimize the harm to those fish being released will
benefit the resource in the long haul.
However, we also don't want to discourage the fun and excitement of catching fish and
documenting the catch, whether for records or the personal satisfaction that comes with
sharing this experience with friends and family. That's why we are attempting to inform the
public about safe catch and release techniques, and the harm that can be caused to fish
that are handled roughly or held out of the water too long. That is the approach our law
enforcement officers are taking, and only egregious cases of mishandling or unequivocal
"possession" of an illegal fish would be pursued.
Florida's anglers should be proud of their conservation efforts. They have helped to restore
or sustain valuable fisheries, including snook, red drum and spotted seatrout. As the
number of anglers continues to grow and our coastal habitats come under increasing
stress, it becomes more important than ever to release those fish that cannot be harvested
in as good a condition as possible. The next angler will thank you for it.
Fish Handling Guidelines
Florida Keys Sportfishing Information : Florida Keys Fishing Charters : Florida Keys Flats Fishing : Florida Keys Offshore Fishing : Florida Keys Wreck Fishing :
Florida Keys Reef Fishing : Florida Keys Bonefishing : Florida Keys Tarpon Fishing : Florida Keys Bait & Tackle Shops : Florida Keys Marinas : Florida Keys Boat Rentals :
Florida Keys Fishing Tournaments : Florida Keys Fishing Articles : Upper Florida Keys Fishing : Middle Florida Keys Fishing : Lower Florida Keys Fishing
|More helpful Florida Keys and Key West websites:
www.flkeys-diving.com | www.thefloridakeys-keywest.com | www.flkeysgc.com