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Sunshine State largemouth bass on the menu?

By Staff | Mar 11, 2022

Broiled Blue Crab Stuffed Black Bass – $24.99?

Move over tilapia, soon Sunshine State largemouth black bass will be on local menus! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently approved rules to allow for the production and sale of Florida largemouth bass as a food product. Doesn’t sound too appealing to me as I’m also not a fan of the rather bland tasting, but commercially successful tilapia, originally a freshwater aquarium, hobby fish, featured in most restaurants today right next to the grouper.

Payback time? Before you install that big winch on your Pathfinder to haul that 500-pounder aboard, you know the one, the one that’s over the years eaten quite a few of your hard-earned snapper and grouper on the way boat side, the one that has at least a dozen hooks in his lips, and take him home and butcher him in the driveway, understand that the long-awaited opening of goliath grouper season will take place in the spring of 2023 on a very limited, basically research basis, and only in state waters.

Closed to harvest since 1990, random draw lottery winners will be allowed to harvest 200 goliaths between 24 inches to 36 inches between March 1 and May 31. A resident permit and tag will set you back $150, non-resident $500.

According to the FWC, “This limited harvest is not intended to address fishing depredation concerns.” (Not “payback”)

Gray triggerfish season opened March 1. A 15-inch fork length minimum. One fish per harvester and tasty under the broiler. Red grouper, as well as blackfin snapper, queen snapper, silk snapper and wenchman, will reopen Jan. 1, 2022, in state and federal waters.

Don’t forget that fishing in state or federal waters from a private vessel you must first sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler. Check out MyFWC.com/Marine under “Recreational Regulations” and “State Reef Fish Survey” Sign up at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com

Another required-by-law item to have aboard when travelling offshore to fish is a venting tool or descending device, “rigged and ready to use” when fishing for reef fish in Gulf federal waters.

White bait and pinfish showing up on the flats plus warming weather have gotten local snook fired up and looking to eat, as they move away from their winter haunts, and over the next several weeks, will eventually end up at the coast for their annual summer of love rituals.

Although I’m a lure and fly guy I will admit that nothing gets snook going like a well full of frisky, live, whitebaits. Those looking to score a trophy-sized snook will be using stout equipment capable of casting live 12-inch mullet against seawalls and dock structures looking for that one special personal best fish.

This is also a great time of year to do some under-the-lights, dock fishing for snook. Approach very quietly and start fishing in the dark water just outside the edge of the lights before moving up and actually casting around and under the dock with lures. Those that have mastered the art of skip casting always have the advantage around structure and will hook fish that nervous “outside edge of structure only” anglers will never meet.

Night, dock fishing requires respect for homeowners as well. Hooking dock lawn furniture and bouncing lead head jigs off of expensive hulls is a definite no-no, as well as making a racket. If the homeowner becomes uncomfortable for any reason and asks you to leave, be a good ambassador for our sport, and move on without argument.

Five bucks a gallon gas is on the way. When and where will it end? How could there be such a huge change in a year’s time? Have a big offshore boat? Ouch! I’ve got to fill my 75-gallon bay boat tank today, and the truck, I’m looking at $400? All, completely unnecessary.

Suddenly, those old tweets don’t seem so “mean.”

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.