In case you’ve been in a cave for the past week and haven’t heard, snook and redfish are closed along the Southwest Florida coast. The executive order is temporary and the matter will be discussed at the FWC’s Sept. 26 meeting in Havana, Fla. (near Tallahassee).

Harvest could reopen immediately after the meeting, but I don’t plan to bet on it. I’m making the assumption that both fish will stay closed at least through the fall and potentially a lot longer. So it’s time to start looking at alternatives to fish for. Fortunately, we are in an area that has lots.

If you agree that these fish needed to be closed — and from the posts on social media, it seems that a huge number of people agree — then why not take it a step farther and not even fish for them at all? Remember, not every released fish survives. Research indicates that more snook die every year from catch and release than from going into the cooler. Don’t fish for them if you think the stocks are so low.

If you disagree that the closure was necessary (as I do), respect it anyway. Don’t be the jackass who tries to get away with putting a snook in the bilge or a redfish under the console. Once you break one law you don’t like, it’s much easier to break more. The law is the law and needs to be followed or else it’s anarchy on the water, which isn’t good for anybody.

Reds and snook are on a pedestal. Why? They’re good gamefish and you can eat them, but lots of other fish fit that description — for example, barracuda, which most people regard as a trash fish. Other fish on that list include cobia, pompano, flounder and blacktip sharks.

If it’s groceries you want, the Gulf is your best choice. Actually, that’s true even when redfish and snook are open, since the limit is just one per person. Reefs and hard bottom in water from 40 to 60 feet deep offer grunts, porgies, lane and mangrove snapper, and an assortment of other less common fish, most of which have liberal bag limits and are very good eating.

And that type of fishing can be just as challenging as going along a mangrove shoreline. When you’re drifting along that shoreline and casting to the bushes, you don’t get a fish in every spot. You’re hunting; looking for just the right one. Same with reefs. Drift one patch of bottom and nothing. Drift another that looks the same on the machine and it’s fish after fish.

I hear what you’re saying — it’s too far to go in your small boat. Do you cross the Harbor in that boat? That’s a 5-mile run. What’s the difference between that 5 miles and going 5 miles offshore? The center of the Harbor can get snotty just as fast as the open Gulf, and usually faster with a nasty unsettled chop. Pick reasonably calm days (and be ready to head home at the first sign of impending weather) and you should have no trouble.

For those of you who are still afraid of the Gulf or are land-based, things are looking up anyway. Red tide is dissipating due to changing conditions and the east winds pushing it offshore, so fish are moving back into their usual spots. The ICW from Lemon Bay to Boca Grande is mostly clear, and the Placida pier is open again.

We’re getting reports of whiting along the beaches, especially at Stump Pass and the north end of Boca Grande Pass. A few pompano showing up along the beaches also. The brackish canals have had good numbers of sand bream, which taste very much like snook. Peeled shrimp on the bottom is the bait of choice.I suspect that there are more fish out there than we’re hearing about, mostly because there are so few people actively fishing right now.

If sport is your primary objective, there are big schools of jacks in the Harbor. In some schools the fish average a pound or so, and in others most fish are bigger than 10 pounds. It’s fun on a mass scale, and jacks are more edible than you think. Cut out the red meat before cooking or freezing, and they’re pretty good. If you’re the type who likes to blacken or heavily spice your fish, you’ll probably never notice the difference.

What it comes down to: Just because snook and redfish are off the table doesn’t mean fishing is. You have lots of choices besides our perennial favorites. All you have to do is get on the water and put a rod in your hand. I’ll see you out there.

Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor and at 14531 N. Cleveland Ave. in North Fort Myers. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing info, or visit them online at FishinFranks.com.

Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor and at 14531 N. Cleveland Ave. in North Fort Myers. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing info, or visit them online at FishinFranks.com.

0
0
0
0
0

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.