Skip to main content

Home-Grown Reds?

Home-Grown Reds?
Home-Grown Reds?



Then we'd release them locally to add to the redfish stocks, triggering a resurgence that would produce a permanent fishery beyond our current dreams.

They call it Redstart.

Some might call such an idea a pipe dream.

But Redstart is a pipe dream that quietly became reality a few weeks ago when volunteers and biologists released a large school of near-adult reds into a pond on Sanibel Island.

In just a year, the fish were raised in tanks on Sanibel from tiny fingerlings to 14- to 16-inchers.

Now the fish are alive and well in a pond owned by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Association, where their growth and health will be followed.

"This really shows what volunteers and staffers can accomplish and the program could work everywhere," said an enthusiastic Bob Wasno, Florida Sea Grant representative who helped spark the Redstart demonstration.

It's a fascinating prospect, a potential way to move Florida's slow-motion redfish hatchery program into a higher gear.

The fishing public for the most part loves hatcheries. When done correctly, they do wonders, without doubt. Hatchery fish can jump-start populations after traumatic events, bad year classes and overfishing, as well as provide much better angling. (The Texas redfish bag limit is three, largely because of that state's huge stockings of 30-plus million fish per year.

Not that stocking should ever substitute for habitat protection. Both habitat concerns and good management, including hatcheries, must have equal standing.

At this point, Florida is putting millions into a new freshwater hatchery and research facility west of Orlando. But on the saltwater side, it's putting up only nickels and dimes, even though millions in federal funds could be captured.

The state's Port Manatee coastal fish hatchery is, however, making a noble effort with limited resources, concentrating on "Project Tampa Bay," in which some 3.5 million reds, mostly small fingerlings, have been released since early 2000.

Some legal-size reds of hatchery origin already have been caught by Tampa Bay anglers. But next there will be long periods of evaluations and report writing. Unfortunately, there is little momentum among current officials for getting a Texas-style program really rolling. That's a shame.

All of which makes the community Redstart idea especially appealing. In short, fisheries supporters around the state could provide a huge force of volunteers and localized resources for growing out large numbers of reds after first getting the fingerlings from Port Manatee.

White seabass have been grown this way in California to compensate for gill net massacres that wiped out that fishery years ago. Florida has an opportunity to follow suit.

The possibilities are endless.

What's needed now is for Florida officials, angling clubs, the Coastal Conservation Association and marine-oriented interests to take the ball and run with it, for a Redstart touchdown.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Refurbished 1987 Alumacraft Jon Boat | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

New Berkley Finisher: The All-Around Live Sonar Lure

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Power Switch: Powerhouse Lure Designed for Foward-Facing Sonar

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Krej: A Reversed Lip Jerkbait?

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Install New Fuel Tanks in an Old Boat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Videos

Testing Out the Latest from Old Town in the Marquesas

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Powder Coat: Benefits of Powder Coating Metal Fuel Tanks

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Father & Son Customize a 20' Center Console | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Best Features of the Shallow Sport X3

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

How to Fix an Outboard Motor that was Submerged in Saltwater

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Analyzing a Hurricane Damaged Boat for Restoration

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Design & Build a Custom Dash Panel for a Boat

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now