The Snook population was harshly impacted by the extended bout of red tide that wreaked havoc on the west coast (over one year’s time). Because of the sharp decline in population, Snook were initially put on the catch-and-release-only list until May 10th 2019. Upon FWC’s review earlier this year, they have decided to extend the catch-and-release ordinance to August 31st, 2020. The catch-and-release order is only in affect from Pasco County to Gordon Pass in Collier County. However, this does also encompass all waters in Hillsborough County, including all of Tampa Bay The extended relief effort is expected to help build the population and improve the chances of a better spawn next year.
Red tide suffocated the water off the gulf coast of Florida from late 2017 to early 2019. A significant amount of sea life was killed during this time. With the mass amounts of Snook that died, there were very few adults left to help spawn and give new life to the population. Thanks to the help of organizations like the FWC and the CCA, there are currently new efforts to help re-populate the gulf coast with juvenile Snook.
These Snook are tagged and will be monitored. The tags are Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT). These tags will keep track of their location and other various data points. Donors that have adopted these Snook will be kept up to date on the statuses of their juvenile Snook through these PIT trackers. If you accidentally catch one, it’s extremely important to release these tagged Snook back into the ocean!
Again, Snook are officially on the catch-and-release-only list until August 31st, 2020. In early 2020 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will review the status of the Snook population. At that time the FWC will decide if they will be eligible to be fished again, and whether they will be cleared to be back on your dinner menu prior to the August 31st, 2020 deadline. Again, please release these tagged fish if you do happen to catch them.