baby fishing

Shutterstock photo

If the kid can catch ‘em, he can keep ‘em. But you can’t keep any for him.

Do you fish with your baby? I’m not talking about your sweetheart or your honeypie, even though it’s Valentine’s Day (or Valentime’s, according to about 15 percent of the population). No, I mean your actual baby. As in, a very young human being.

Most of us wouldn’t — at least, not until they’re old enough to hold a rod — but I had the most interesting discussion with a fellow the other day. You see, he thought he had found a loophole, and he was more than happy to explain it to anyone who might benefit.

He had a honeyhole for mangrove snapper. This spot, he said, was producing hundreds of them. They were keepers, but they weren’t huge. He and his wife were bummed that they could keep only 10 between the two of them.

And that’s when he had a revelation: His sister had just had twins! If he and his wife offered to babysit and they took the little tots out with them, they could keep 20 snapper: Five for him, five for her, and five for each youngling. They tried it and it worked out great.

Bad news, bud: That’s not the way it works. Bag limits are not per person — they’re per harvester. A harvester is someone who is actively fishing and who is legally allowed to do so. If your toddler can hold a Barbie pole and reel in a snapper, she’s a harvester. An infant too young to hold its own head up? Nope. If you’re not actively fishing, you’re not a harvester, and your bag limit is zero.

He wasn’t thrilled with this information. Apparently it messed with his entire worldview. He liked the next thing I explained to him even less.

Seems the kiddos were bit fussy about their fishing trip. In fact, they spent the whole time wailing, requiring constant attention from his wife. No big deal: The fish were so abundant that he had no problem catching everyone’s bag limits all by himself.

Again, not the way it works. Bag limits are individual. If you and I go grouper fishing tomorrow, once you’ve caught your two reds you can’t legally put another one in the box — even if I haven’t caught any yet.

This particular facet of the law is widely overlooked, especially on offshore trips where the “boat limit,” equal to everyone’s individual bag limits added up, is usually caught mostly by one or two experienced anglers while the others mostly feed fish. On a charter, it’s virtually a guarantee that individual bag limits will be ignored as long as the fish are biting.

As I told my unhappy friend, I’m not a cop or a lawyer. I’m not telling him or anyone else how to live their lives. You make your own choices and live your own life. If you choose to do things that aren’t legal, you have yourself to blame if you face consequences for doing so. If you find this information helpful, that’s super. If it’s just annoying, that’s fine too — but if you have a problem later, just remember that someone tried to tell you.

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@


Load comments