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 WINTER SALT WATER FISHING 

Spinning, Casting and Fly Rod

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OUR NEWBORN LITTLE FRIENDS



Help Sea Turtles Survive: Fwc Offers Tips On Helping Hatchlings

Sea turtle hatchlings are beginning to appear on beaches throughout the Sunshine State, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking the public to help ensure these tiny turtles reach the ocean by following a few simple guidelines. 

During sea turtle nesting season (March 1 – Oct. 31), it is important to keep your distance from these protected marine reptiles and their nests. You should allow hatchlings to crawl toward the ocean on their own. Any interference or disturbance, including getting too close, can cause hatchlings to become confused and lose their way. 

Bright lights, whether from buildings, phones or cameras, can also cause them to become disoriented, leading the hatchlings to stray away from the waves. If they are unable to reach the ocean quickly, they can become vulnerable to dehydration, exhaustion and predators. 

“Interfering with a sea turtle hatchling’s trek to the ocean can have fatal consequences,” said FWC sea turtle biologist Robbin Trindell. “It’s very important to leave them undisturbed. By keeping beaches dark and giving sea turtles space, we can make sure that our children and grandchildren can also enjoy watching them make this amazing journey.”

There are many ways you can make a difference for Florida’s sea turtles:

  • Keep beaches dark for sea turtles – After sundown, turn off any lights not necessary for human safety. Use long wavelength amber LED lamps for lights that must stay lit and shield lights, so they are not visible from the beach. Remember to close shades or curtains.
  • No flash photos – On the beach at night, don’t take flash photos or use bright cellphones or flashlights. This can cause turtles to become disoriented and crawl away from the ocean, putting them at risk.
  • Remember, sea turtles are protected by law – Stay back and give sea turtles space if you see one on the beach at night. Don’t touch a nesting turtle because it may leave the beach without nesting if disturbed. Remember, it is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests, eggs or hatchlings.
  • Clear the way at the end of the day – Beach furniture, canopies, boats and toys left behind on the sand can become obstacles that block nesting and hatchling turtles. Fill in any holes dug in the sand. Holes can trap turtles, and can also pose a safety risk for other beachgoers. 
  • Before taking any action, report sea turtles that are sick, injured, dead, entangled or otherwise in danger to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-888-404-3922 or text Tip@MyFWC.com.



FWC Announces New Way To Report Gopher Tortoise Sightings


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is launching a new interactive web application designed to provide biologists with thorough and reliable data, and promote science-based gopher tortoise conservation efforts. The new system will replace the Florida Gopher Tortoise smartphone app, which will be decommissioned Sept. 8. 

The new web application is user-friendly and is designed to function on any device. To report a tortoise sighting or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise, simply visit MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise and click on the button that reads “Report Gopher Tortoise Sightings.” There, you can also view an interactive map, which features user-submitted photos and locations of tortoise sightings throughout the state. 

“We appreciate the thousands of citizen scientists who have reported gopher tortoise sightings using our original Florida Gopher Tortoise app over the years,” said Michelina Dziadzio, monitoring coordinator for the Wildlife Diversity Conservation Section of the FWC. “These citizen scientists have helped the FWC enhance gopher tortoise conservation and we’re excited for their continued participation using the new web app.”

The gopher tortoise is a protected species that occurs in all 67 Florida counties. The tortoise is known as a keystone species, and its burrows serve as important refuges for 350 native species including threatened species such as the Eastern indigo snake, the burrowing owl and the gopher frog. 

For more information about gopher tortoises, visit MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise.

SALTWATER FLY FISHING

Saltwater fly fishing is typically done with heavier tackle than that which is used for freshwater or Bass/ Trout fishing, both to handle the larger, more powerful fish, and to accommodate the casting of larger and heavier flies.  Salt water fly fishing typically employs the use of wet flies resembling baitfish, crabs, shrimp and other forage. 

However, saltwater fish can also be caught with poppers and other surface lure similar to those used for freshwater bass fishing, though much larger in the flats and shallows, and low tides  Saltwater species sought and caught with fly tackle include: bonefish, redfish or red drum, permit, snook, spotted sea trout, tuna, dorado, aka mahi-mahi, sailfish, tarpon, striped bass, salmon, giant trevally and marlin. 

Offshore saltwater species are usually attracted to the fly by “ chumming” with small baitfish, or "teasing" the fish to the boat by trolling a large hookless lure (Billfish are most often caught using this method).

Many saltwater species, particularly large, fast and powerful fish, are not easily slowed down by “ palming” the hand on the reel.  With braided line slowing the fish by squeezing the line can result in a bloody cut…

Instead, a purpose-made saltwater reel for these species must have a powerful drag system and Salt water will ruin anything, so rinse your reels after use and keep well lubed. 

Furthermore, saltwater reels purpose-made for larger fish must be larger, heavier, and corrosion-resistant; a typical high-quality HD saltwater reel can range up to $500.00 or more. 


IMPORTANT:   Corrosion-resistant equipment is key to durability in all types of saltwater fishing, regardless of the size and power of the target species. Rinsing gear in fresh water is essential after usage.  Reels with removable spools have advantages, but expensive in some cases.

Saltwater fly fishing is most often done from a boat, either a shallow draft flat boat is used to pursue species such as bonefish, redfish, permit and tarpon in shallow waters, or from larger offshore boats for pursuing sailfish, tuna, dorado, marlin and other pelagic’s and most popular methodology may be done from shore, such as wading flats for bonefish or redfish or surf fishing for striped bass and other assorted fish. 

Typically, most trout fly fisherman need to practice new skills to catch saltwater fish on a fly rod. Ocean fish are usually harder to catch. They can be extremely spooky, and much larger. Trout fisherman need to practice with at least an 8 weight fly rod and accurately cast the line 30–90 feet if they are going to have success—particularly in the flat areas fishing for bonefish, redfish, permit, tarpon, jacks and more.  They can be spooky but when they hit, it’s an explosion.

Hooks for saltwater flies must also be extremely durable and corrosion resistant. Most saltwater hooks are made of stainless steel but the strongest (though less corrosion resistant) hooks are of high-carbon steel. Typically, these hooks vary from size #8 to #2 for bonefish and smaller nearshore species, to size #3/0 to #5/0 for the larger offshore species.


https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/27d890d #Florida #fishing 

SNOOK 

  • The recreational harvest season for snook opens March 1 in some Gulf waters, including Escambia through Hernando counties, and waters south of Gordon Pass in Collier County through Monroe County (also includes Everglades National Park). 

  • Snook remains catch-and-release only in state waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County (includes all of Pasco County, Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County) through May 31, 2021, in response to the impacts of a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019. Because snook has a May 1-Aug. 31 annual season closure, this species would reopen Sept. 1, 2021. 

  • Unique to the region, snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. Seasonal harvest closures and anglers using proper handling methods when practicing catch-and-release help conserve Florida’s valuable snook populations and can ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come.



GRAY TRIGGERFISH 

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/27dc3ce #Florida #fishing 

  • The recreational gray triggerfish season reopens to harvest in Gulf state and federal waters March 1, and will remain open through May 1, closing to harvest May 2, 2020.  

  • If you plan to fish for gray triggerfish in Gulf state or federal waters, excluding Monroe County, from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. 

  • Learn more about gray triggerfish regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Triggerfish,” which is under the “Reef Fish” tab. 

  • NOAA Fisheries recently announced that the Gulf recreational gray triggerfish fishery is estimated to meet its quota in early May, prompting an early quota closure in federal waters of May 2. At its February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved also closing recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in state waters when Gulf federal waters close.


MORE SALT WATER PROCESSES, CUSTOMS, IDEAS AND COURTESIES

  • Saltwater, by boat,  deep or pier fishing is a different set of rules.  Mostly seasonal and size limitations, you need the state chart or a lawyer to figure the rules and limits on time and size.  My conventional fishing gear like spinning and larger heavier casting reels, usually live bait and some lures work for that in the inner-coastal, bridges and offshore.

  • Florida is blessed with mangroves , flats and good weather year round that suits the fly-fisherman.  Winter can offer great fishing opportunities for some of the state’s most sought-after fish species. As the temperatures drop, you’ll spot many anglers, following spotted sea trout to fresher water, where the fish congregate in large schools closer to warmer water.   

  • Be aware of the area you will be fishing and local fish you might catch. Know the regulations for your target species and make sure you have all the proper gear. Determining ahead of time which fish you are going to keep versus which fish you will release is an easy step to take. Knowing which fish he plans to release helps to get those fish back in the water quickly, increasing survival and benefitting the fish population. 

  •  Knotless, rubber-coated net – These support the weight of the fish while removing a minimal amount of slime, which protects the fish from infection.

  • Barbless circle hooks – Are 90% more likely to hook a fish in the mouth. Hooking a fish in the mouth reduces internal harm and decreases de-hooking time, getting the fish back in the water faster and increasing its chance of survival.

  •  De-hooking tool – Allows anglers to quickly release their catch while minimizing fish and self injuries and handling time. Just take the hemostat and crush the barb, then if you hoof your face it will be easy to remove.

  •  Correct weight tackle – Using tackle heavy enough to land a fish quickly is important so fish are less exhausted and more able to avoid predators upon release.

  • If you are new to fishing, this might be the first time you have heard about barbless hooks and you may not know exactly what they are. Barbless hooks are simply hooks that do not have the small v-shaped metal piece at the pointed end of the hook that points in the opposite direction of the sharp pointed tip. Some hooks can be purchased without the barb, but you can also crimp down the barb on any standard barbed hook using a pair of flat-nosed pliers to make it barbless.


Why Use Barbless Fishing Hooks  —  Since it's important to help conserve our fish populations for future generations, more and more anglers are making the decision to use barbless fishing hooks instead of barbed hooks. Hooks without barbs are far better to use for catch and release fishing because they greatly reduce the chance of causing injury the fish. This may not matter if the fish is within the state regulations and you plan to take it home for dinner, but it can make a difference in the survival rates of any fish that you release.

  • Hooks without a barb tend to cause less injury to the fish because they can be removed more easily. In other words, since you don't have to push the sharp v-shaped metal piece or barb through the mouth of the fish, there is less of a chance that you will further injure the fish before releasing it.
  • You can return the fish to the water quicker since barbless hooks allow you to remove the hook faster. In most situations, you won't need to use pliers or a de-hooking device.
  • Barbless fishing hooks are safer for anglers to use. As you might imagine, a hook without a barb will be much easier to remove from your skin or the skin of another angler in case of an accident.
  • Hooks with barbs create resistance that can make it harder for the point to penetrate. Hooks without a barb don't create that resistance, so hooking the fish can be easier with barbless fish hooks.
  • Fishing regulations may occasionally require the use of barbless hooks while fishing for certain species or on specific waterways when additional conservation measures are needed to protect the fish population.


Barbless Treble Hooks  —  Treble hooks without barbs can be used to replace the treble hooks with barbs that often come attached to most lures. It doesn't matter if you want to use a topwater hard bait, crankbait, or spoon, most barbed treble hooks can easily be replaced using a pair of split ring pliers. Whether you fish with a barbless treble hook or a barbless single hook, both are good choices when you plan to practice catch and release fishing.  

  • Dremel tools make a circular wheel that reshapes treble hooks beautifully.

  • Make sure to reel the fish in as quickly as possible especially a big one, by managing the drag tension. Horsing a trout into the boat can usually result in additional tearing of the area they are hooked, especially around the mouth.   Work them in as they tire and keep tension on the line to prevent a hook release. 

  • Anglers should always use a net for landing medium-to-large trout and dip/wet any measuring board with water before laying the fish on the board.    Avoid removing large fish from water. If you must remove them, support their weight horizontally to prevent damage to their internal organs.  And take pictures of your catch while it is in the water. This puts less stress on the fish and the fish will look bigger.

  •  If a net is needed to land or control a fish, always use a knotless, rubber-coated landing net.   Return the fish to the water as quickly as possible. One of the major factors in the survival of a released fish is how much time it spends out of the water.   Be sure to wet your hands before handling a fish to prevent damaging its protective slime coating. Don’t use gloves or towels, as this will remove the protective slime.   Never hold a fish by the gill cover or eyes and hold fish horizontally to support their internal organs.  If possible, keep the fish in the water while removing the hook. 

  • Gripping devices can be effective for controlling and handling fish, especially ones with sharp teeth. Grip behind the lower lip and support the weight of the fish in a horizontal position.  If the fish has swallowed the hook, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. Attempting to remove the hook can do more harm than good. Use non-stainless-steel hooks since they eventually dissolve or pass naturally.

  •  Place the fish in the water and allow it to swim away on its own; do not toss the fish back.  If fish is in shock, Revive fish that do not swim away immediately or appear lethargic.    Place fish in the water head first – it is easiest to hold one hand on the bottom lip or tail and one hand under the belly of the fish.    Move the fish forward in the water – this allows the water to be flow through the mouth and over the gills. The fish must face the direction of water flow.  
    Use a figure-8 motion to move the fish forward constantly, ensuring water continues to flow over the gills. Never jerk fish back and forth, since this action prevents water from properly flowing through the gills.

  •  For fish caught in deep water with signs of barotrauma, use a descending device to return fish to depth or vent the fish by inserting a sharpened, hollow tube at a 45-degree angle, one inch behind the base of the pectoral fin.

  • The steps you take on the water today can help positively impact the future of your Florida fish populations! Dropping temperatures don’t have to mean a drop in the survival of the fish you release. To learn more about proper catch-and-release techniques, visit     MyFWC.com/FishHandling

Where to Fish in Tampa Bay  

Whether you want to fish the flats, mangrove shorelines, or even find a prime freshwater destination, there are plenty of Tampa Bay fishing hot spots to choose from. Use this list to plan your mid-summer Tampa Bay fishing adventures.

1. Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier State Park

If you are looking for good fishing spots in Tampa Bay, head to the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier. There are two miles of fishing pier (the St. Petersburg side is a half-mile long, and the Palmetto side is 1½ miles long) that offer opportunities to catch species such as snook, tarpon, grouper, Spanish mackerel, cobia, sheepshead, and pompano. What's one of the best things about this Tampa Bay fishing spot? That would be the fact that the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. There are daily admission fees that apply, so be sure to check the Florida State Park website in advance of your visit.

2. Fort Desoto County Park  —  Fort DeSoto County Park has long been one of the top Tampa Bay fishing hot spots due in large part to the two easily accessible fishing piers on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The Gulf Pier offers open-water access, which means fishing in stronger current with heavier tackle for species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and sharks. The Bay Pier, on the other hand, is a more sheltered spot where families can try light tackle fishing for species such as redfish, snook, and trout.


3. Bishop’s Harbor  —  
Located along the mouth of Tampa Bay, you'll find some of the best fishing in Tampa for redfish, snook, and trout. Bishop's Harbor contains mangrove shorelines and shallow flats that serve as prime habitat for these popular saltwater inshore species. Don't forget to check a local tide chart for Bishop's Harbor when planning your trip. You may find this spot to be the most productive when fishing the last few hours of an incoming tide. Access to Bishop's Harbor is provided by a sand boat ramp located off of Bishop Harbor Road in the city of Palmetto.


4. 
Edward Medard Reservoir —  In addition to the saltwater Tampa Bay fishing hot spots mentioned, don't forget that there are freshwater hot spots in the Tampa Bay area as well. Don't pass up the chance to fish the Edward Medard Reservoir in Hillsborough County for largemouth bass and sunshine bass. Since the reservoir is a reclaimed phosphate mine, the bottom contours of the lake are irregular, with some areas reaching depths close to 33 feet. The depth changes and bottom irregularities make this one of the best spots to try freshwater fishing in Florida.


5. 
Lake Tarpon  —  If you want to know where to fish for trophy bass in the Tampa Bay area, consider Lake Tarpon. As far as good fishing spots in Tampa Bay for freshwater anglers, Lake Tarpon always ranks. In fact, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists rate the lake as one of the top 10 bass lakes in the state of Florida. Try fishing the points and offshore structure on Lake Tarpon during the warmest periods of the day throughout the summer months.

Since you now know about a few saltwater and freshwater Tampa Bay hot spots, be sure you have the right gear and tackle for the location and species you plan to target.