What’s a snook worth? Is it worth the $10 stamp to harvest them during season, or is that too pricey? Calls for hatchery programs have intensified since the fish kills started a couple months back. How much would you pay for baby snook to be released?

Turns out we can put a price tag on that. It’s $44 a fish. For 4-inch fingerlings.

The CCA has announced a partnership with FWC and Mote Marine (https://goo.gl/Y1rcKG) that is planning to raise and release these little fish next spring. To get them ready in time, the snook will have to be spawned next month, and the project is already in the works.

I will admit I was slightly shocked by the program’s $440,000 cost. Would you have thought it took $44 to spawn, hatch and raise a baby snook? You can buy baby largemouth bass online for less than a buck and half. Sure, snook are more complicated, but that price makes my eyes water just a tad.

One thing for sure: If we’re going to be spending that much on these fish, we’re going to need to start valuing them a little higher. How many times have you casually tossed a 16-inch snooklet back — then gone on to catch two dozen more along the same stretch of shoreline? Well, that’s more than $1,000 worth of fish you had in your hands!

The next time you’re handling a juvenile snook, take extra-good care of it. Treat it like if you damage it, you would have to personally shell out the replacement cost. You wanna pony up for that? I know I don’t. So treat your snook like they’re worth their weight in gold, because it turns out they darn near are.

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