Florida regs update: grouper and more

April kicks off a lot of great fishing in Florida...

April kicks off a lot of great fishing in Florida, and along with it a lot of rules and regs changes as of April 1.

For starters, grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico waters off Florida reopens on April 1. This does not apply to Monroe County (the Florida Keys) or the Atlantic waters, both of which remain closed until May 1.

  • Also reopening is recreational fishing for vermilion snapper, which has been closed since November. The minimum size  for vermilions in the Atlantic is 12 inches total length, with a five fish daily limit. Neither the captain nor crew of chartered boats may keep a limit.

  • A temporary closure on bonefish and tarpon also expires on April 1, in case anyone has been waiting for that, but there' no reason to keep either one of those species, so the reopening is basically academic. For the record, anglers are allowed to keep one bonefish daily, with an 18-inch minimum; and two tarpon, provided you have the $50 tags for them. 

  • The recreational season for spiny lobster in Florida closed on April 1 and will reopen on Aug. 6, 2010. The special two-day sport season for spiny lobster will occur on July 28 and 29 this year.

  • Special rules for Boca Grande, in effect for the height of the tarpon season, begin April 1. The rules prohibit the deployment of more than three fishing lines from a vessel  and prohibit the use of breakaway gear  in the pass during April, May and June.  Breakaway gear is "any bob, float, weight, lure or spoon that is affixed to a fishing line or hook with wire, line, rubber bands, plastic ties or other fasteners designed to break off when a fish is caught."