View Full Version : Snook, bonefish, tarpon closed in FL

01-23-2010, 10:09 PM
I just got this e-mail from a reliable source. I read yesterday in the fishing news feeds that it was closed down due to the extreme cold they're having. Feel free to add to this thread if you guys find any more info.

Here's part of it:

Florida Salt water fishing closed

I just recieved a frantic call from my friend from Florida saying they closed the season on Snook, Bonefish and Tarpon.

I told him I'd do some searching.

I reminded him of us Jersy fisherman having the sea bass fishing closed with the stroke of a pen and how awful our Fluke season is with size limits and closed seasons well low and behold I went on Florida Fish @ Game and he was right they closed the seasons, calling it extended closures!

snook until September and Tarpon until 3-31-10

guess the guys down south are getting shafted also!!

01-24-2010, 10:27 AM
I talked to a friend in south florida. there been a big winter fishkill. I guess they want to protect the fish that made it through that weather, and give them a chance to spawn. I know that the Peacock bass must of took a big hit. This happend with peacock bass before. all those canal in Palm county, and northern broward might of lost most of there population of Peacocks, I'm going by pass history it might not be fact this time around. I will check. I checked some of the forums it seems there were big fish kills of snook, tarpon, and bonefish. They even had thousands of immature turtles die off.

01-24-2010, 11:06 AM
real sad! we lost alot of fish in florida.

Prolonged cold weather freezes Florida fish

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Giant dead snook were gathered by these East Coast anglers after the Florida Wildlife Commission issued an emergency rule allowing people to collect dead fish for proper disposal after the severe January freeze. Fish could not be bought, sold or consumed. PHOTO COURTESY BILL SARGENT

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By Paul Bruun, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 20, 2010

Sports fans chortle that records are made to be broken. If this is true, the state of Florida is headed for the record books in a bad way. Winter cold snaps aren’t uncommon in the Sunshine State. But three weeks of record below-normal temperatures punished more than Florida’s tourists, truck farms, fruit and citrus industry.

Fish kills are not uncommon during these winter freezes. Several weeks ago photos and messages began arriving about this paralyzing cold front. A lengthy deep freeze aided by northeast winds plunged both fresh and saltwater temperatures to lows that most subtropical fish species cannot survive. Over the weekend and this week the watery graves bulging with thousands of dead fish topped the news.

The recent record cold is reminiscent of earlier deep freezes in 1977 and 1989 that took a great toll on Florida’s fish resources. But experts say these savage mercury plunges since January 1 will prove to be worse ... much worse. Gamefish, tropicals, exotic non-natives, turtles and manatees were not spared.

By executive order the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission moved immediately to close the snook season statewide (due to open February 1) at least until September 1 as well as any harvesting of bonefish and tarpon until April 1.

Snook, a highly sought after inshore gamefish and table delicacy is popular with sportsmen throughout the tropics. The snook is related to other international battlers such as the nile perch and barramundi. All are very susceptible to sudden downward temperature changes.

The four subspecies of snook found in Florida – common, the fat, tarpon and swordspine – cannot survive in water temperatures lower than 45 degrees. According to Miami Herald Outdoors writer Susan Cocking, NOAA weather Web site listed water temperatures at various testing stations in Florida Bay in the 40’s. Tampa Tribune outdoor reporter Frank Sargeant who has written books on the state’s favorite inshore sportfish including “The Snook Book,” reported that Tampa Bay area temperature was 41 degrees in many canals that previously provided cold refuges for snook in other seasons.

As temps plummet, fish float

On Florida’s central East Coast, the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon system, which features mostly shallow water, presented anglers with dozens of large sea trout floating dead on the flats. Near the Indian River-adjacent Central Florida community of Palm Bay, several anglers were visiting a favorite small creek at the tail end of the frigid weather when they found their quarry – snook and baby tarpon – all belly up! They photographed a dead 30-pound snook and then returned it to the water. People rarely encounter 30-pound snook alive or dead and Florida Marine Patrol officers in the Melbourne-Sebastian area of the Indian River ticketed anglers for snatching dead snook from waterways during this normally closed season.

The 2010 Florida Freeze has provided a variety of interesting results, only one of them pleasant. Because Florida has been without a serious aquatic freeze for over a dozen years, the snook population has expanded and pushed northward on both coasts to areas traditionally beyond the species’ range. The frigid thinning of this northern fringe population is usually predictable. But the magnitude of this slaughter covering the Everglades, Tampa and Florida Bay as well as Pine Island Sound and Indian River slaughter is uncommon.

Even the subtropical Florida Keys region usually bathed by daily water exchanges between the Gulf of Mexico via Florida Bay and the Atlantic with the nearby Gulf Stream wasn’t off limits to the killer freeze. Bonefish, baitfish, puffers, mangrove snapper, mullet, ballyhoo, ladyfish, jack crevalle, thousands of catfish and even spotted sea trout were victims. Tarpon on both coasts were not immune to the sudden temperature plunge.

Noted Florida angling personality Flip Pallot ventured south from his Mosquito Lagoon home at Mims to the Keys and had this to say: “It’s the same at Flamingo (Everglades National Park southern terminus) ... tons of dead bonefish at Islamorada this week while I was down for the Sailfly Tourney. Mutton snapper floating up on the reef and dead mangrove snapper in all the basins around town. Pinfish, blowfish, trunkfish, porgies, grunts and just about everything that was shallow and couldn’t find deep water got crushed. Closures might actually be a good thing at this point ... doesn’t mean we can’t fish!”

The Miami Herald contacted Dr. Jerry Ault, professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine Science. Ault reported surprise at the high number of tarpon and bonefish killed this past week. During one afternoon Ault’s research assistant Mike Larkin picked up more than 160 bonefish from the Upper Keys portion of Florida bay. A Stuart fishing guide delivered the scientists a “truckload” of dead tarpon measuring from three to four-and-a-half feet long found floating near the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant on the Indian River.

Stunned by the immediate fish mortality reports, Dr. Ault said, “It’s hard to get a grip on the number of mortalities, but the effects will be felt for years to come.”

Veteran Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) native outdoor writer/fishing guide Steve Kantner wasn’t as quick to jump on the doomsday bandwagon, especially in the snook department. Steve feels that despite the super cold, some good snook always manage to survive, especially the larger ones that move offshore for a period before returning to the passes and deepwater channel cuts to spawn during May and June. “Meanwhile, water temps in the surf plummeted to 57 degrees, driving pompano, mackerel and bluefish southward in unprecedented numbers,” he reports.

What are the effects?

According to veteran Florida Today outdoor writer Bill Sargent it is sad that the growing butterfly peacock bass program begun by long time Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Department biologist Paul Shafland and concentrated in South Florida’s deepest freshwater canals may have suffered dramatically from the cold. Ironically, Shafland retired recently. On the brighter side, however, many other unwanted invasive exotics such as tilapia, oscars, snakeheads, armored catfish and Mayan cichlids might have been frozen out of their new canal homes. So far there are no reports of largemouth bass fish kills other than small pockets of yearling fish.

During this challenging economic period, this blow to one of Florida’s richest biological attractions will prove enlightening to many armchair economists. The four-month (Feb. 1 to May 31) snook season on the Florida West Coast attracts thousands of anglers annually. Although excellent catch-and-release snook action continues well into June and July, destination communities such as Everglades City, Goodland, Pine Island and Matlache are empty after “the season.”

Long time Everglades City recreational and fly fishing guides Steve Huff and Joe McNichols have been saddened by the extensive fish kills they have encountered in recent days. They report creeks and bays of the 10,000 Islands are carpeted with everything from snook and tarpon to manatees, catfish, shark, sawfish, mullet and baitfish. Interestingly, Joe nor Steve have not noticed any dead redfish or its close relative, the black drum among the carnage. Redfish have always been known as the toughest species in marshes and backcountry locations where they thrive.

Redfish might just become the most popular Florida inshore target while other sportfish stocks begin the rebuilding process.

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Paul Bruun writes weekly on his adventures and misadventures in the great outdoors


01-26-2010, 09:44 AM
Article on the fishkill.

January 2010: Cold Weather Leads to Widespread Fish Kills in Florida

The Fish Kill Hotline has received hundreds of reports of cold-related fish kills across the state as a result of the recent cold snap.
The recent cold snap has affected Florida’s freshwater and marine fisheries as water temperatures dropped below normal for an extended period of time. During the first few weeks of January, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish Kill Hotline has received hundreds of reports of cold-related fish kills across the state.
When water temperatures drop, if fish do not die from cold stress, they may become more susceptible to disease. Therefore, in addition to observing dead fish, the public may begin to see fish with sores or fungal infections. Warm-water species, including the popular game fish snook, are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures.
The FWC monitors fish disease and mortality events around the state. Fish kills are not uncommon in Florida and may be caused by a variety of factors including red tide, low dissolved oxygen conditions, and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
Data gathered by the FWC will also be used to assess the impacts of this cold weather event on the state’s fisheries populations. Researchers report that many species have been impacted including saltwater fish such as snook and tarpon. In fresh water, some native fish have been impacted. However, most die-offs occurred among non-native species such as tilapia.
The FWC asks the public to continue to report dead, dying, or diseased fish to the Fish Kill Hotline by calling 800-636-0511 or submitting a report online at http://research.MyFWC.com/fishkill/submit.asp (http://research.myfwc.com/fishkill/submit.asp).

Although the FWC seeks reports of fish kills for research purposes, the agency is not responsible for the cleanup of dead fish. Cold-related fish kills are naturally occurring events and are generally left to nature to clean up. Following fish kill events, natural scavengers, such as birds and other animals, usually provide cleanup within a week or so, depending on the scale and duration of the kill. In some cases, local authorities or private groups may conduct cleanup activities, but usually only if resources allow.

In response to the recent widespread saltwater fish kills, the FWC issued two executive orders on January 15, 2010, one to protect Florida’s snook, bonefish and tarpon fisheries (Executive Order 10-03 (http://www.myfwc.com/docs/Newsroom/EO_10_03_SnookTarponBonefish.pdf)—PDF file: 40 KB), and the other to allow for people to legally dispose of dead fish associated with the kills (Executive Order 10-02 (http://www.myfwc.com/docs/Newsroom/EO_10_02_DeadFish.pdf)—PDF file: 50 KB). Many people are consulting with local sanitation authorities regarding the proper method of disposal of the dead fish they are collecting.
As a reminder, according to the Florida Department of Health, harvesting distressed or dead animals for consumption is not advised under any circumstances.

01-27-2010, 07:04 PM
tarpon weight chart


03-05-2010, 09:44 PM
video of the dead fish