Regional Reports-South

Indian River Lagoon

Since beginning to stock redfish in 1988, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has released more than 2.8 million hatchery-reared redfish in Biscayne Bay, Tampa Bay, the Indian River Lagoon and Volusia County. Three sizes of redfish have been stocked (11/2, 4 and 7 inches), and 7-inch fish have been marked with tags. A 2001 census of captured fish shows that the best opportunity to capture a tagged redfish occurs in the Indian River Lagoon in east-central Florida. At the northern end of the lagoon, 12.7 percent of tagged redfish have been caught, while anglers have taken 8.1 percent of those released in the southern half. Only 0.42 percent of the tagged Biscayne Bay fish have ever been recaptured. Biscayne Bay no longer receives stockings, but Tampa Bay is now the center of attention. In the fall of 1999 and spring of 2000, an intensive three-year stocking program began with the release of 1.7 million 11/2-inch redfish. Growth studies show that a 11/2-inch fish will reach the legal minimum size of 18 inches in 18 months, so these stocked redfish should begin to show up in creel surveys this summer. Contact: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute (727-896-8626).