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The daily fishing report
By CHAD CARNEY
Published September 2, 2006
Red snapper are one of the most challenging fish for spearfishermen to hunt and anglers to reel in. They are more wary than mangrove snappers and usually stay deeper on the oil rigs off the Texas to Alabama shores, where their size is commonly 20 to 35 pounds with records in the 50s. In west central Florida, red snappers are becoming plentiful on deep wrecks and reefs but are usually less than 20 pounds. In mid depth waters they are much smaller, but legal 16-inch snappers are not uncommon.
From the early '70s through the early '90s, west coast divers rarely saw any red snapper, even in the Middle Grounds. In November 1994, the net ban was approved by voter referendum for state waters, and they quickly began rebounding. Shrimp nets farther than 9 miles offshore still kill about 80 percent of the juvenile red snappers as by-catch.
After the conclusion of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Baton Rouge on Aug. 17, the National Marine Fisheries Service is threatening to reduce recreational red snapper limits and extend the six-month closed season, in spite of the latest stock assessment results under current regulations showing stock growth of five times what it was five years ago.
Fishermen can read much more about it on www.spearboard.com under the spearfishing regulations section.
Chad Carney teaches diving and spearfishing in the Tampa Bay area. Call 727 423-7775, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org visit his Web site at www.mobilescuba.com.