Friday, December 30, 2016

Nearly a New Year with maybe some new regulations

 The big one for me will be Hogfish.  Right now they have to be 12 inches long and you get five per person.  Hook and line fishing for Hogfish has never been a slam dunk.  You get a few every now and again and on a slack current you can occasionally limit out, but that is pretty much a front page find of day.  Most Hogfish are taken by divers because they are just plain stupid, the Hogfish, and a diver with a commercial license could load up on a good day.  Now, the powers at be want to change the limits to one fish per person at least 16" long, which is really going to suck on a slow day when Porgies and Hogfish are about the only game in town.  When that goes into effect is up in the air and there might even be a closed season because people creating regulations don't really have much better to do.

 Grouper of course closes January 1 through April because Gag grouper are supposedly hammered someplace north of here and Red Grouper are under pressure north of here in the Gulf.  The closures are based on typical spawning times for the northern fish, but since spawning is driven by water temperature and moon phase, Keys fish wander down a different path spawning wise.  So as usual the regulation are designed for someplace else and enforced in the Keys where there is about 200 times as many charter and recreational anglers.  Since the regulators are sadistic little bastards, they close all grouper in the Keys pretty much because they can.

 So this is probably the last Red Grouper for a while.

When the regulators close seasons on some fish plus decrease bag limits and increase size limits all at the same time, that tends to shift pressure to other species meaning there are more landings of fish that normally don't have as many landings.  More fish landed to the regulators seems to mean that those fish are being depleted so they close their season as well.  Now if these regulatory geniuses picked one control method at a time instead of hitting the triple whammy button, they could actually do scientific stuff like surveys to determine if there needs to be more or less regulation and even define zones where regulations don't apply.  However, there appears to be a glut of liberal arts majors with crap math skills finding government jobs saving the world killing one fishing industry at a time.   So Yellowtail Snapper like the one above will probably be closed around November this year along with Porgies, Hogfish and just about any other kind of fish with tasty white meat, because people will catch more of the easier to catch fish. 

Now, "easier to catch" generally means that there are lots of fish, not a shortage of fish.  However, liberal arts majors, a guestimated quota based on landings during a bygone era of people just fishing isn't going to be that useful if you don't allow for the impact of knee jerk over regulation forcing a shift in fishing pressure. 

These Mangrove snapper have so far dodged the regulatory free for all so with any luck I will continue to be able to let customers catch enough for dinner. 

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

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