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Let's Standardize Snook Laws

Adjusting Atlantic slot limit by 1 inch to conform to Gulf side would be a good start. Uniformity in seasons is also desirable.

Quick, you snook aficionados, what are the current size, bag limits and seasons for this great gamefish we love to catch, and sometimes eat?

Don't feel bad if you're stumped. Most other folks can't keep up with the latest contorted edicts either.

The upper size limit is 33 inches on the west coast, but 32 inches on the Atlantic side. And yet the snook closed season is more liberal by a few months on the Atlantic (with county boundaries for the Keys adding another piece to the puzzle).

State officials and the fishing public will mull over the snook's status at an all-day symposium Jan. 13 in Orlando.

Snook populations seem to be at high levels in the southern half of the state, which is their basic range, based on most everything we've seen and heard.

So shall we ease up a bit, or what? "Well, whatever they do, they should go for consistency," says Editor Jeff Weakley. "Make the rules the same for both coasts."

We suggest a 28-33 inch keeper slot size statewide, and closures from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 and from June 1 through Aug. 31.

These regs would give the typical angler a chance to soak up the limits without needing to have a lawyer aboard.

This modicum of simplicity would outweigh supposed benefits estimated by biologists jawing in air-conditioned hotel gatherings.

The statewide rules would also prevent embarrassing situations such as happened when a marine patrol officer was issuing a ticket based on the wrong coast's size maximum.

An angler had to provide the correct information.

At any rate, the really good news, certainly, is that the snook seem to be doing extremely well.

Seems like yesterday, give or take 40 years, that anglers could keep four snook just 18 inches long. (Not that we could catch that many most days.)

It goes to show us once again that conservative management does indeed work wonders.




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