Red drum and spotted seatrout management changes made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at their November 2011 meeting will take effect Feb. 1. Many of these changes mean more angling opportunities, including increased recreational bag limits in some regions and longer spotted seatrout fishing seasons for commercial fishermen.
Changes affecting red drum include:
§ The creation of three management zones (see map) for red drum instead of one statewide management area. The areas represent the northwest, northeast and southern sections of the state’s waters;
§ Increasing from one to two the number of red drum that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the Northeast and Northwest zones;
§ Establishing a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum;
§ Limiting the number of red drum that can be transported in a vehicle on land to six red drum per person.
Changes affecting spotted seatrout include:
§ Redefining the areas where spotted seatrout are managed by splitting the state into four management zones instead of three (see map);
§ The recreational season will be open year-round statewide (this includes the removal of the February closure in northern Florida, and the November-through-December closure in southern Florida);
§ Raising the recreational bag limit in Northeast Florida from five to six;
§ Changing commercial seasons based on region – lengthening them from three months to five months in the Northwest and Southwest zones (June 1 - Oct. 31 for both) and in the Southeast region (May 1 - Sept. 30), and from three months to six months in the Northeast zone (June 1 - Nov. 30);
§ Allowing spotted seatrout to be sold 30 days after the close of the regional commercial season with the proper paperwork;
§ Changing the commercial vessel limit to 150 when there are two commercially licensed fishermen aboard.
Both species’ rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy.
“This is our version of having a listed, protected species and being able to take it off that list. This is a success story,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski about the increased recreational fishing opportunities.
Other recreational red drum and spotted seatrout rules will remain the same.