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Closed Months Eliminated for Florida Seatrout

Those nagging and confusing closed months for recreational spotted seatrout are being eliminated in Florida, though commercial takes are being increased from three to five months in specified regions, and commercial boat limits doubled when two licensed fishermen are aboard.

In short, both recreational and commercial takers gained modest increases from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, effective Feb. 1, 2012. A stock assessment had reported large gains in seatrout populations.

Non-commercial anglers will no doubt welcome the no-closure month change, although they opposed the decision to double the commercial boat limit from 75 to 150 fish to for the market.

Anglers did cheer the commission's defeat of a proposal to allow commercial seining of the state's most popular inshore sportfish, even though the FWC chair Kathy Barco and staff had favored the expanded netting of trout.

Barco at first refused to let a speaker show the size of the seine nets but other commissioners let the 100-foot net be stretched out before the group.

Personal bag limits and boundaries were kept as is, except that the Jacksonville area was allowed a one-fish bag increase to six per day. FS

Key Changes Include:

  • Removing all regional recreational season closures.

  • Splitting the state of Florida into four management zones instead of three.

  • Raising the recreational bag limit in Northeast Florida from five to six (That means there are three different daily bag limits of seatrout in Florida: 4 per day in Southeast and Southwest regions; 5 per day in Northwest region; and 6 per day in Northeast region.)

  • Increased commercial seasons based on region—from three months to five months in the northwest, southwest (June 1 - Oct. 31) and southeast (May 1 - Sept. 30) regions, and from three months to six months in the northeast region (June 1 - Nov. 30).

  • Allowing spotted seatrout to be sold 30 days after the close of the commercial season.

  • Allowing two commercially licensed fishermen to keep a commercial vessel limit of 150 seatrout.

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