Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Emergency Snook Fishing Closure temporarily extended

Ingi kissing a beautiful Snook. Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

Ingi kissing a beautiful Snook. Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

I remember it like it was yesterday. Ten days of freezing temperatures in January killed hundreds of thousands of Snook around the state. Down here in the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades National Park, I saw shallow backwater bays literally white in color from “belly-up” Snook. Since then, sure, we have been catching Snook again, but nowhere near as many prior to the mass extermination this winter.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently announced that they are extending the emergency Snook fishing closure, implemented after last January’s freeze, temporarily until September 16. The extension of the Snook season will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 17. Snook fishing season would normally have opened up statewide on September 1.

“We have pretty good estimates that at least 200- 300 thousand Snook perished in ten short days in January, 2010. Our normal annual harvest is about 75 – 100 thousand Snook. It looks like we lost several years’

What a catch! Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

What a catch! Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

harvest in about a month,” said Ron Taylor, Senior Snook Scientist at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI).

The temporary extension will enable FWC Commissioners to hear a report by staff at their September 1-3 meeting at Pensacola Beach. They will review the latest information on the status of the Snook population, receive public input, and determine whether to reopen the fall harvest season or continue to prohibit harvest and possession as a precautionary measure.

“We took immediate action to prohibit the harvest of Snook as a proactive, precautionary response to the freeze. We want to make sure that if we reopen the fishery, we will be able to do it knowing the Snook population is secure and will continue to rebound from the effects of that unprecedented cold snap,” FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said. “Snook is one of Florida’s premier game fish species. Anglers expect us to manage them carefully, and we will.”

Based on angler reports received at Snook Foundation, and

Pete and Jill with a Snook. Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

Pete and Jill with a Snook. Submitted by Capt. Pete Rapps

comparing notes with FWRI, it looks like East Coast Snook fared better than West Coast Snook, particularly in the Everglades.

Let’s see what the scientists come up with after they complete their study. I hope they make the right decision soon! Meanwhile, I will do my part to continue to practice “Catch and Release” of these magnificent fish! An awesome photo of a properly held Snook, with a huge smile on the anglers face, will outlast the memory of a good dinner any day!

Tight Lines, and remember to make someone giggle today!

Hailing out of Chokoloskee Island Park Marina, Chokoloskee, FL, Capt Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from novice to hardcore seasoned pro. Pete is extremely patient and loves to teach. See his online availability calendar, booking info, videos, and first class web site at www.CaptainRapps.com

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