Fisheries Conservation photo

Unless you were living in a hermetically sealed and heated bubble the past couple of weeks (or reside in Hawaii) you probably experienced some of the coldest temperatures in a long time. Most of the country was under a deep freeze for days or even weeks on end.

Unfortunately for many gamefish in Florida, the ruthless cold was a brutal killer. Freezing temperatures were recorded along the coast from the central and southern part of the state for multiple nights in a row. Apparently this is not a good thing for saltwater gamefish that are used to much warmer waters. Many fish died from the extreme cold.

Due to the fish kills, which depending on who you ask ranges from hundreds of thousands to a couple of hundred, the state imposed new rules. These limit the number of fish kept from single fish for some species to none at all for others. Specifically, the snook population took a massive hit with estimates that up to 7% of the entire population died.

While the initial executive orders from the state caused some confusion with the wording, many people thought the entire season was closed for bonefish, tarpon and snook. It actually, “establishes temporary statewide closed harvest seasons for bonefish and tarpon”, and reiterates that “catch-and-release fishing for these important game fish species is still allowed.” And, “temporarily extends closed harvest seasons for snook statewide.”

One silver lining according to Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is that they seem to be collecting some dead bonefish and tarpon for biological samples, “gaining some important biological information from this sad event”.