Neil Taylor,

The replies to the first two articles on the decision to reopen the species of snook on the west coast have been brisk and they have been interesting.    Comments in favor of the opening?   Still waiting to get some of those.   

Will they reconsider?   It is possible, but only if recent discussions lead to new discussion on the subject.

It is not a good decision, not just by my own feelings but of my contemporaries and peers.     It is painful to absorb:  We take the positives from three and a half years of a natural process and erase all of those gains?   Simple and straightforward:   Why would there be a hurry to force an opening when things simply are not that impressive?  

The first two articles that I wrote were a wake-up call (listed at the bottom).  Below are the comments that I received by the internet or email, the newest ones first, for those who saw the original draft.  The only editing I did was to references and language that is probably counter-productive.   Believe me, there were more than a few of those from people who really love this species and they are not in favor of this decision.  

************************Added July 28, 2013**********************************

It is my opinion that the gulf coast snook season should remain closed for at least another year. We are beginning to see a return of slot sized fish, but not near the former numbers that existed before the freeze. Let’s not jump the gun, but give them time to recover fully. Thank you.
Dear FWC, I’ll keep it simple. It’s too early to allow harvest of a species that got absolutely wrecked in the 2010 freeze. I am frankly amazed that FWC would consider opening a season on a fish that has not rebounded completely.
My personal choice will be to target other species, as I don’t believe Snook should be exploited yet. I am not a fish biologist, but just another concerned angler who saw the devastation and truly believes this wonderful species needs another year’s reprieve. Thanks for your consideration.
 The fwc is wrong. There is not enough accurate studies on snook population done. Ask any guide and they’ll give you more accurate information than the fwc. If you disagree just look at the protect goliath grouper population…endangered but so abundant that they are nothing but an invasive species that destroys environments
As a third generation Floridian and life-long sportsman I have seen the fish stocks and the rules come and go. The biggest difference today vrs the “Good Old Days” is the number of people fishing ie. fishing pressure. I feel that due to the lack of recovery in our snook population here on the central west coast, the season for taking snook on the gulf side should be kept closed for at least 2 more years. Longer if we have any red tide or bad freeze events.
Please rule on the side of caution and protect our gulf coast snook!
Thank You.
I highly recommend you keep snook season closed for at least one more year. As a native Floridian, I’ve seen the good times and the bad times. Today, we’re seeing the bad times for snook. While they’re doing better, they could sure use another year of NOT being targeted. I haven’t caught a snook in over 2 years. Rarely see many. Let’s give ’em a break for another year. Thanks for you hearing me out.
I am a kayak fisherman in the Tampa Bay area. I belong to several clubs/organizations and attend seminars/presentations about our waters and conservation. In fact FWC is one of the speakers a couple times a year. We also work in conjunction with Tampa Bay Watch, etc. While I don’t profess to be an expert by any means, I have a reasonable knowledge/ hands on expierience with the issues confronting the health & longevity of our coastal waters. Therefore:
I would urge you to ‘keep snook season closed’
In my opinion the species has not fully recovered enough from the devestation from the freeze/ cold snap of several years ago. Many of the snook being caught are barely slot size. And as you well know just a year can make a big difference in the breeding potential ie. a 5 yr old fish is capable of ‘x’ amount of offspring, while a 7 yr old fish triple those numbers. I for one would be more than glad to continue catch and release until the species has more time to recover.
Thank You,
Keep Snook Closed in 2013
For the long term good of this species please allow recovery and do not open the season to allow harvesting until sufficient breeding Stock has been established. Thank you. JTL
Let’s give them more time to make a full recovery.
Thanks for listening.
I have been reading with great interest articles about the Snook situation, in particular the Tampa Bay area. I believe the decision to reopen the season is wrong; as a sportsman, I like to see fishing conditions as close to “world class” as possible. I’ve fished trout fisheries in Arkansas and Missouri that have tight restrictions but as a result are great places to fish. Over the last several years I have made an annual trip to Florida and have been able to fish a few areas in Tampa. I’ve never caught a Snook, and I won’t target the species until it makes a comeback. I suggest that if the area had a reputation of a world class fishery, with Snook being on the list, the attraction of the area to fishermen all over the country would be great. Out of state people contribute a lot of $ to the local economy in many ways. I’m getting ready to come to Florida for trip #2 this year; hope to do a lot more in upcoming years. Please consider my request to keep Snook season closed until the numbers increase, creating a more viable population.
I am simply asking that you continue the moratorium on snook harvest.
As a recreational angler I am aware that the fish population is not strong enough to warrant openening harvest . Consider rescinding this decision
Neil, I am assuming you got the same thing.   I thought they would take the input seriously this time.   The ruling itself is not as disturbing as the response.    The letter I wrote deserved a better reply then a form letter sent out to anyone who mentioned the word “snook.”    Like you and others, if they want to seriously move forward with the decision I (and we) want to know why they would make a decision that 99% of the people oppose.    By 99% that is my math.    The 1% are people who are rednecks who eat roadkill types.     I cannot thank you enough for trying.    You can be content that you made an effort.    Several guides I respected previously stayed silent.    I have no respect for that, and all the more for you.    They should have spoken up if nothing else to support what you were trying to do.   To me THAT was simple.   You wanted them to reconsider a decision that nearly all of us do not understand.
I finally got my reply.    Not from the governor.   From this Wiley guy.   I hope he enjoys his paycheck.   Probably written by an intern, I know when I have been written off.   I am sorry I took all the effort to write my letter to be treated like this?!     Thank you for trying.    You raised great points on behalf of all of us.   We do not always agree but on this one we do on all counts.    I can go catch snook if I want to, but like you, I won’t because it is not worth it.   The state endorsing the targeting of snook, it is as if they have no concept of what the numbers really are (or the sizes of different size fish).    Have a great year otherwise.
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the opening of snook to harvest September 1st. This is an irresponsible decision based on false data and assumptions. I for one kayak fish the intercostal waters frequently, and I have noticed a small increase in snook population, but no where near numbers allowing harvest. I ask that you please revoke this decision and allow snook to make a comeback. You are getting ready to open a harvest where the majority of the large, breeding fish are right in the slot! Also, please do what you are suppose to do and survey the local captains. I for one know many that were NEVER questioned in this decision and that isn’t right. Sounds to me like the FWC selected their own people for the survey. Convenient.
I wanted to take a minute to ask that you reconsider opening the snook harvest. I live in Clearwater FL. and have been fishing the area for almost ten years. I can tell you first hand that the snook are not as abundant as they were prior too 2010. It has been three years, as you know it takes just about twice that for a snook to mature. In my, and countless others opinion, opening the harvest season this year or even then next couple years, could have a serious impact on breeding snook and future generations. Please consider the input from the local anglers and guides, we are the ones on the water day in and day out.
Thank you for your time
What is mystifying, this is about whether or not to keep snook.    Who would want to?    I can catch something to eat whenever I want.   To kill a snook, for one, good luck.   For two, I want my kids to be able to catch these fish like I did a few years ago and the harvest of the species risks this opportunity.   Yes, I believe the pressure alone hurts but actual harvest of the future of the species right now is blatantly dumb.    These people should work for Disney instead of the FWC.   The Magic Kingdom is a great place for people to escape the real world and they have done it in their jobs.
Well, that was worth it.  I spent about half an hour formulating a very thoughtful letter and I feel like they just told me to stick it.   I do not see why this is necessary or even a consideration.    My four other fishing buddies, all feel the same as I, they are fearful that this will be a big shot to the future of our favorite fish to catch.

***********Added July 22, 2013*********************

Thank you for keeping this topic active.    I have seen a few more snook than the previous years but keep this in mind:   Over my entire area, which I know very well, I should be seeing many hundreds of fish but I would fairly accurately estimate that it is in the dozens.      I believe that this process of recovery will take a solid ten years.    We did have it so good for so long.  But all of you are absolutely correct, the re opening of this species to harvest is at best ill advised.   At worst, it is moronic.
I have not gotten a reply from day one when I heard that this was their decision.     Not that they care what I think or anything but when so many people speak up, do they not want to address the problem?     I am seriously disappointed in this system.    What you read simply does not match what is reality.     I went down south near Fort Myers and while it was fun to actually see snook again, their numbers are not what they were before either.   How much worse will that get quickly if they do endorse harvest again?
If this a joke?     I didn’t believe it until I moved back here.     I can hardly even find any much less think about killing one of them.     Are they serious?
I would strongly suggest that we continue to rehab the snook for another year… I been fortunate enough to report a tag snook catch to you in the past when the numbers were at there highest… I still fish these very same water weekly when lucky enough to get away from the daily grind. I had the pleasure of catching one that went 42 inches with my 10 year old stepson recently… Yet the number of juvies and slot sized fish are still way down from where they once were… I would love for my stepson to be able to bring his first one home, but even he understands that for the greater good of this species we must take action and precautions now… Hopefully in the long run our conservation efforts will reward the following generations in the years to come.
I can’t believe they are even considering opening it. Go kill a trout if your hungry…. Sure hope it doesn’t happen
Wish they would keep it closed!! Start looking at the redfish! There’s none around cause everyone kills them every day…..
 They do not need to open it there are way to many poachers and the other fish that are available to eat Snapper, black grouper, cobia taste just as good or even better. Snook are like Tarpon a Sport Fish !!!!!!
Accurate and professional: Are you certain? They have even said they will reverse their decision if they hear enough challenge from the public. Why would they do that if their data was any good? There are inconsistencies, like the “impact” was much greater on the smaller fish than the large. I talked to people all over the state and the freeze did not discriminate. The pressure that is put on this species by the act of opening it exposes it to extra pressure and that strain will reverse the positives of having it closed since the weather event. Actually harvesting a fish? You would have to have no regard for the resource if you had seen for yourself or talked to reputable sources
Crap let alone the over fishing, and over harvesting that’s going to happen. With the weather at extremes i sure hope we dont see another real cold winter and a freeze again before they have a chance to recoop that would really suck…..
Fishing 200+ days a year, I can tell you, snook here in West Central Florida are nowhere near as abundant as 2009 and before. Not even close. I used to be able to put clients on 30-50 snook a day without much effort. Now it’s more like 3-6 a day (if I try) and on really good days it’s 10-20 tops. Keep it closed for 5 more years!
 I hope the right people will wake up and really see what is going on.. do you have any pictures of the fish kill that happen in the last few years due to the cold weather? If so… start showing them!

I don’t know a single guide who wants the season open. If you can change the season opener that would be great!!!! I catch a ton of big snook but they definitely are not in their normal spots. In a perspective from the client who wants to keep one I will have to tell a story and see if they are ok to let them go. If not it will hurt me deeply and possibly change the outcome of the charter. One wise captain once said. “These snook are my business associates”. It would be nice to keep them that way!

As previous Captain and now a Rec fisherman that spends counless hours on the water every year… I have seen the devastating evect the previous winters have taken on the snook reducing the population from numbers over 5 years ago… Now with the allowing harvest of the snook come this fall, I see nothing good of it… its just taking our population of possible breeder fish to lower stats… There are so many other species of fish that have closures on them that have greater numbers and less anglers targeting… Snook is a HUGE Targeted fish and targeted by a countless number of anglers. The snook have enough trouble tring to survive winter poachers…
I believe opening the season is a mistake… It does not even really bring in any extra money either… so its not like it will effect the economy any either…

Respectfully, I am disappointed that you would even consider this.   I love to eat a snook occasionally myself but would not consider doing so until the species got a lot stronger than what exists right now.    Why kill the gains that years of recovery have provided, when waiting just a little longer strengthens the sustainability of the species?  

For the last 5 years I have spent well over 100 day per year on the water fishing for inshore species. This year is the first year since the freeze where there have been “decent” numbers of snook. With that being said, most of the snook being caught are between 14-20  inches with the occational “keeper size” and even more rare an “overslot” fish. I was shocked when I heard that the season is set to open in september. Why risk the possibility of another cold weather kill this winter while also exposing the fish that we need to spawn over the next few years to harvest. It is my opinion that those who make these decisions about the future of the snook as a species and our snook fishery need to keep it CLOSED for at least another season so that we can someday see the numbers AND size we saw before the freeze.  The individual who wishes to harvest a snook is the only person who loses in the short term while there is so much more to gain in the end by a continued closure on the gulf coast. To that angler who wants to put food on the table I would say trout and redfish are plentiful and delicious. Surely no one is going to starve because of a continued snook closure. Dedicated anglers also have the option of fishing the atlantic coast and keeping a snook where they were not as badly affected by the freeze. 

They are just now getting back to good numbers and there is still a lot of poaching and fatal by-catch going on.We need more enforcement at shore stops and seawalls.

One potential problem is that a lot of people who currently don’t target snook because they can’t keep them will start to. More snook fishermen = more snook caught, more incidental mortality, and more snook in coolers. How much that would impact the population is anybody’s guess but as someone else mentioned, if savvy guides start hunting snook for their clients, it could amount to quite a few fish.

I fish for sport but also for the table. I don’t live on the coast and only get out 2 or 3 times a month so I want to bring home some fish when I do get to go. Snook are delicious but I could do without. There’s plenty of other good eatin’ swimming around out there. If they open a season and I have a bad day, my only catch being a nice slot snook toward the end of the day, would I bring it home? Hmm…I’m not sure. 

What are you guys/gals opinions of opening the season, but for a much shorter duration? Say maybe a month or two? Just a thought…Also, if the slot fish/ breeders are the most prevalent why not “tweak” the slot lengths to ensure more breeders stay in the water?

My biggest concern will be those that are just at the top of the slot limit. My hope is they will survive long enough to become the breeders that we need. Just one more year would make a huge difference

This is NOT a scientific opinion just an observation.  I live on the Little Manatee River and this winter and I saw more snook than in the past in the lights under my dock.  Interestingly, there were some VERY large ones (probably over 36 inches and one I know was at least 4′ long) and lots of smaller ones (less than 18″) but very few if any in between.  One night I counted 38 parked under my light that I could see and I know there were lots more swimming around.  My neighbor told me one night in Feb. he counted 55 under his light.

I am not so sure we are really ready to open the season yet.  With so many small ones lets just wait a bit and let them mature some more.  

  I respectfully submit my request asking for your consideration to keep snook closed to harvest until further surveys in the field support opening this gamefish to take. It appears that most outdoorsmen and guides in Florida are in agreement that opening snook should be delayed to ensure successful recovery of old ‘Linesider’.

Thank you and I trust that the future of this magnificent gamefish will be guaranteed by your continued actions to conserve resources for generations to come. 

Please reconsider your stance on the opening of snook season.  I believe the value of keeping the season closed for at least 1 more year far outweighs any positive impact you forsee by allowing snook to be harvested now.  By waiting a bit longer we will wind up with a much bigger group of fish which are over the slot limit providing a better breeding population.
   I am a fisherman who has yet to harvest my first snook but I am willing to wait till the time is right.  I hope you can agree with me

 I told them to open Gag Grouper year round. 22 inch min with 2 per day per person and leave Snook alone. They are opening the wrong fishery. More tourism = more money. Opening Snook will not benefit anything.

I have been reading with great interest articles about the Snook situation, in particular the Tampa Bay area. I believe the decision to reopen the season is wrong; as a sportsman, I like to see fishing conditions as close to “world class” as possible. I’ve fished trout fisheries in Arkansas and Missouri that have tight restrictions but as a result are great places to fish. Over the last several years I have made an annual trip to Florida and have been able to fish a few areas in Tampa. I’ve never caught a Snook, and I won’t target the species until it makes a comeback. I suggest that if the area had a reputation of a world class fishery, with Snook being on the list, the attraction of the area to fishermen all over the country would be great. Out of state people contribute a lot of $ to the local economy in many ways. I’m getting ready to come to Florida for trip #2 this year; hope to do a lot more in upcoming years. Please consider my request to keep Snook season closed until the numbers increase, creating a more viable population.

rework the slot if needed but the East Coast has had a season for two years
and we have many more fish a much healthier stock assessment? Tired of
politics. close Spring but let’s enjoy something before a new freeze whips
out these! it made me sick to observe all the wasted fish we did without to have, only to waste. we can’t control mother nature only be good stewards
and enjoy some benefits!

My greatest concern is the huge number of snook currently being poached off private structure and from everyday fishing trips — carcasses are easy to find. There are VERY few femails above the allowable slot limit to carry he species forward. Either ighten the slot to one 24″ min. / 25″ max.” fish to eat, or close it until a reliable source of broodstock is above the current allowable maximum size.

I’m think that we should just step back regroup and take a long hard look at what could possibly happen to this species if we do open the season. If the data supports that the stocks are at a level that they once were then open the season. Don’t open because we are ready to eat snook! I for one wouldn’t mind if they close it for 5 years then take a look in 5 years.

All of the Florida fisheries need to be properly surveyed before we even consider harvesting snook. I’ve grew up in Estero,FL and grew up eating snook. I love it like a fat kid loves cake! BUT I want my Children to enjoy it too. I say no to September. It would be nice to catch 20 a day like the good times!

Open snook season, Could be disastrous for Charlotte Harbor ,!! Five generations and fishing 30 plus years 20 as a guide!! Opening snook season and a harsh winter, will just about wrap it up for snook and we won’t have to worry about it anymore !

The central to northwest FL Gulf Coast was hit hard by the freeze. I truly think the FWC should keep the snook season closed north of the Bradenton/Sarasota area, if not the entire FL gulf region.

I have some spots that have a lot of 20-25″ snook. Is there any tag studies I could help with. I think we will be ok in a few years and the west coast was hit hard. They should first cosider what are the northern boundries and look at better habitat for tbe Snook. We have a lot of snook here. But i have to agree we need to be good and think of the fish first.

Someone needs to fight to lower the 2 redfish limit of northern Florida back to 1. And the commercial harvest of trout. Save our snook and other gamefish!

I am a charter captain in ft. Myers, fl. I guide from the 10,000 islands to Charlotte harbor and anywhere in between. I love fishing for snook. I will not be offering snook nor am I going to purchase a snook tag. We have been catching a lot of snook all over the place. I do not think this fishery can sustain a open season yet. I just don’t understand why we don’t have the restocking program like some of the other gulf states. This is a renewable resource for us lets not kill itbecause we want to eat a snook! I am all for catch and release! Honestly it wouldn’t bother me to see this closed for the next 5 or ten years. I am still not seeing the numbers of snook on our beaches yet. Please reconsider the open season!

a member of “Florida’s Oldest Family”, have been fishing for 30+ plus years for Snook, and have been guiding anglers in Charlotte Harbor for 16 years. I love Snook fishing, and have enjoyed them on my table my whole life. A few years ago, I realized that it is more than water temperatures and harvesting that is creating the Snook’s problem (sort of regarding the latter…). The real problem …is OVERPOPULATION. This is a problem that cannot be fixed; We as natives (and long time residents) have to understand that the world has changed for us… The act of bringing Snook home for dinner a few nights a week cannot be practiced by the new, much larger number of angling enthusiasts. If we are going to enjoy Snook fishing for years to come, we have to be prepared to “pay it forward”, and release these fish (not to mention fight like crazy to protect the estuarine marshlands where developers are trying to satisfy the throngs of “aliens” waiting to take possession of their own piece of “Flawridah”). To all of those people pounding their chests bragging about how many Snook they see and catch; Sure I too know where I can find tons of Snook (for now). Florida, her estuaries, and the Snook cannot handle what is coming… As a result, I have vowed to do my part – I will never kill a Snook again (intentionally, notwithstanding the occasional gill damage, or Shark attack that comes with angling every now and then.) You guys don’t have be as extreme as I… just don’t be furious if the biologists say we have to keep the season closed for a few years. Ask yourself: “Do you want to eat a Snook? Or catch loads of them for the rest of your life? Catch Snook – eat Flounder!!!!!!

The population is maybe where it was when the freeze hit. 2 more years to have epic snook fishing. We are talking 20 years ago conditions, seems like a easy choice.

An organization helps when the administration can’t make the right decisions. I am a fishing guide and have several thousand photos of snook, so I attest that snook are easy to catch if they are there. Not going to go deeper into evaluation of your comments, unless you want me to, but Mother Nature taking care of her own would be easier if there were not millions of anglers trying to catch this depleted number of fish. Therein lies the reason for management.

I agree also , our problem is the lack of females and even WORSE YET is on sep 1st every Tom , dick, and Harry will go out and catch 20 snook and none will be legal but 99.9% of those snook caught will be thrown back will all be eaten by porpoise !!! It’s a MAJOR PROBLEM here in naples and Marco and all pass’s around our area !!!! Just like everything in this country it will take wiping them out to do the right thing . And the next time they close the season that might be the end to snook fishing forever …

The original set of comments:

Good article Neil. Thx for getting the facts out in the open. We’ve got to get his message shared in the local fishing communities.

I have to agree!!! Thanks for the email!!!

I’ve never had the opportunity to reel in one of those babies but I’m patient enough to wait.

Well said Neil, you can only hope they listen and hear.

I would have like to see another year or so.
I’d love to have a truly world class fishery for big Snook here in Florida.

The fact that its so damn hard to catch a slot tells ya how few there are, so why allow the harvest of a fish already low in numbers.

I am a charter captain in Terra Ceia,  Manatee county, for 8 years and strongly oppose snook season to open, as well as the majority of recreational fisherman I speak to.

I was not aware of the “public meeting” to discuss snook seasons. The opening of snook season in September I feel will dramatically reduce the numbers of breeders for seasons to come.  Clients historically caught an estimate of 60-80 snook on regular snook trips, currently clients are only catching 10-15.

Ideally close the season for 2-3 years, allow the top end of the slot snook, 31-33″, grow out of the slot and they will add to our breeding population.  I don’t know what science, if any is behind this decision to open in September, but what I do know is what a client catches or doesn’t catch.

Great Read and Information Neil!

I would like to have seen one more year.

My honest opinion is that it’s too soon. I would have been happy seeing them get a break for one more year. The numbers of fish on the beaches are nothing close to what they were pre 2010 freeze. Maybe this is FWC’s way of saying we had an overpopulation of big Snook back then, and now the populations are back to ‘normal’?
I won’t be targeting them for another year, season or no.

I too think that it should have been closed another year. IMO the number of fish I have seen this year compared to before the freeze is about half. Others may have a different perspective. In places where there used to be 75-100 fish gathering to spawn, there are only 30-40. I haven’t kept a snook in probably 10 years anyways.  I would like to see the science behind the decision.

When I first saw it, I called to ask some questions but I got the run around.   I don’t think that they really care what any of us think.   What is sad is we will all have to suffer with a longer delay in having a great tourist draw return to excellence.

I have only caught two since the freeze.   Both about 20 inches.

Life (mostly work) has kept me from fishing for years now.   But I like to catch snook.   I have noticed that you are one of the guys who never mentions them through this entire ordeal.   That speaks volumes to me.   I have lived here for almost 60 years so I am not a total moron when it comes to fishery issues.   That winter weather and the sensitivity of that species, I have no doubt that you are the one who is correct here.   Why else would you go to this effort?   So, as a guy who will be soon retiring, I wanted to take the time to thank you for probably making my retirement years better if you are successful at changing their minds.   But for sure for informing people, to hell with what they decide.

What do you expect?   This from an agency that will not come out to study issues in the field.  Don’t be surprised if they recommend a bigger bag limit next.

How thick can they be?  I have not caught a snook in almost four years.   Before that, I would catch them almost every time I went out.

Whenever I have called they just hung up on me anyway.   They consider their own decisions to be “law.”   Dissenting opinions are not permitted.  Snook.   I haven’t even seen a snook in four years.   Incompetent decisions based on incomplete observations.

Neil, you said it very well.   I will share this with everyone I can.   This is not a correct way to go.  It is too soon and it can not help this situation.

Nice job on thoughtfully providing negative information in a positive way! I hope someone listens!

You should have also mentioned poachers.   We have not had a red tide in a while and that could make things that much worse but damn poachers are always hurting that species.

Neil, well written. I agree and believe your message and the same drumbeat from other guides will make a difference. It’s really up to us anyway you look at it. Thanks for leading the way.

Thanks Neil. I totally agree.

I agree 100%. Maybe we should “save the snook”

It practically warrants an investigation.   Of the few fish we have there are a lot that would be at harvest size.    That is not good.   While they are at it why don’t they increase the bag limit to three?

I have never met you but I have enjoyed your work for a long time. I have also not agreed with some of it. As a guy who lists snook as his favorite fish to catch: You should be one of 100 pros writing this kind of article right now. I know where they are too. I too have chosen to leave ’em alone. All this time later, I am still heartbroken about the loss but time will bring them back around. This decision could delay that process a great deal. Keep up the flow of information on this one!

Incorrect decision by the Florida lawmakers?  Say it isn’t so (sarcasm).   Um, saying that it is OK to start harvesting snook again is like saying it is OK to let Kasey Anthony take that job as a nanny.

That’s interesting that you were astute enough to keep statistics as to the number of accidental snook you caught during the three-year period.  Your essay is certainly well written.  It sounds as though you are writing about something you really understand – you have acquired a great deal of information about how species are nearly  obliterated, and then have come back.  I suppose many folks who fish don’t even think about such things just as long as they have fun on the water – they are the ones who need to be educated.

Neil, another well-written article (round 2) about the dilemma that re-opening of snook fishing poses. I agree that the FWCC field officers do a remarkable job and those in the offices of rules proposals should pay more attention to those outdoors with better sight pictures of actual conditions. Education will mitigate the damages but relief for the snook population can only be achieved by extending the no keep, really NO target, of these magnificent fish. Old ‘linesider’ is a piece of Florida that none of us wants to lose. Deserves better than this.

Thanks again for leading the the charge to conserve and preserve this species.

Keep it closed for at least three more years and let everyone enjoy the results.   Anyone who wants to enjoy a snook between now and then can still catch it and let it go.
I promise not to kill a snook this year!  Seriously though, I hope your message gets spread around. Hunters and fishers are the best conservationists. This FWC decision sounds completely off-base.

I got your article from a page on Facebook and saw your email address at the bottom.   You should have a bigger voice in this decision.   I have seen their reasoning and it is kind of scary.   They seem to live in a bubble.   Maybe someone needs to explain to them about predation and poaching because that is what happened to a lot of the “remaining” fish you mentioned.  I did a little research and I think you are already aware of that too.   Thank you for taking the time to draft this statement.

I wish we had snook here Neil.   On the merits of their decision, if you remember, they changed the redfish rules allowing two to be kept up here.   There was no real science behind that either but politics.   Reading your piece, I have to wonder “why” on this one.   With redfish, they are like rats and you couldn’t exterminate them if you wanted to (but one was enough and the reds did well under the old rule).   With snook, you are talking a different thing.   Sensitive to cold, targeted by poachers for the meat, heavily exploited for sport: They deserve more protection.  That’s my input Neil.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This is what I was thinking.   Honestly, they are going to reopen it?  That is unbelievable.

More intellectual negligence out of the institute in St Pete.   I would be interested if they could actually identify a snook over there.   Maybe that’s the problem with there assessment?   Maybe there counting mullet.

What really bothers me is just being “hit with it.” No explanation really.   No sensitivity to how those of us feel  that “know” what the real situation is.   Not that it is right either way but soften the blow a little.   I’m with ya brother, I won’t keep them either.

What makes this so bad Cap’n, is that this affects not just this huge breeder but  the loss of its future production, which is drasticly needed. Especially after the dumb azz decision to reopen harvest, of this species, at this time. It should have remained closed for at least five more successful breeding cycles.

Remain closed for two more years.  Are you serious that they are opening it?   WOW!

After your first article, I thought this was a joke.   But I looked it up.   Are they just not aware of regional deficiencies of the species?   I then made a call.   A snook fisher man from southwest Florida told me “there are fish but it is way under half what there was  in ’09.”   A second call to a guide I used down there, he said “I don’t like taking the trips” for the same reasons you have stated in your articles.   So, with what I read, what I heard from talking to people it seems like they did a poor evaluation job.

Mr. Taylor.   Please feel free to use my comments as you deal with officials.   I know where to catch some snook.   And if I did, I would be part of the problem you are describing.   Wasn’t that the reason for the closure to begin with, to let pressure off of the species?    Anyway, I go and look at the collections of snook that I know of and it is just as you have stated in your “census” comments- there are not numbers that are worth being anything more than “encouraged.”   You are correct on so many levels, sadly, the one where if they are opened up so many of the fish will be in the harvest range.   I just do not understand why they can say that there is any statistical reasons to keep it closed.   That sounds like people who are doing something for other reasons.   If that is the case, the entire program should be evaluated.   Fisheries management is exactly that.   I have lived here long enough to see a lot of things.   Some good, some very bad.   This one probably fits somewhere in the middle but leans hard to the negative side.   Honest to God, I don’t see how they could make this announcement without putting riot gear on first.  The snook, as my grandfather used to put it “Is Florida royalty.”  It is a shame to see that they will not be treated as such.

I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it for myself.   I got out to hit all my best dock lights.   Started at 9PM and worked a full tide until 2AM and the amount of snook we saw matches your observations.   Five hours of dock light prospecting and we caught none and only saw about six or seven small fish.   At about midnight one of the property owners came out and he said “you snookin’” and when we said yes he told us “wish in one hand and s_ _ t in the other and see which one fills up first.”   He then said that he has not seen that many fish in any of the areas he likes to fish.   I wish your article was not correct but it is spot on for the region.   Thank you for doing what you can to try to stop a mistake.

It would be funny if it weren’t true.  It would be a good thing if it weren’t stoopid.  It would be great if they wasn’t  so funnily stoopid.   Save the snuks!

Good luck with your crusade.   Such simplicity to this solution.   You do not encourage removal of fish when they are battling to make a “come back.”   Pity that people that it is their paid profession cannot come up with the right answer on their own.

Still think that opening the Snook season on the East coast was a major mistake.  Yes, there were a lot of big Snook in the inlets and spillways, but in the back areas that I fish they were almost nonexistent.  Finally, this year I have hit 2 overslot Snook, accidents.  There are very few Snooklets to be found.  I used to get at least 10 shorts a day.  now the number is near zero.  Yes we have serious problems in the Indian River Lagoon.  There are major areas where the grass has died off, turning some rich flats into virtual deserts.  This problem is being studied by experts which means that a lot of over educated dolts will receive a lot of money, and nothing will be done.
I am considered to be an amateur angler.  Average 50 plus trips per year.

I know this guy who said that the species is completely recovered, he’s catching dozens per trip.   Do you have any pictures.   Nah, I don’t take pictures.   Finally I’m on his case long enough where he takes me snook fishing.   We didn’t catch any.   Did not see any either.   I told him, let’s go again tomorrow.   He says “I lied. I have not really been catching that many.”   I said, that many?   He said, I have only caught two all year long.   If they are getting data from the common people, they are processing lies.   If that is what they are doing then they should be fired for incompetence.    Numbers are low but getting a little better.   No argument here with anything you have said.   I would rather see you in charge of this decision than these people to be perfectly honest.

I am so happy I got to sit in on a conversation you had with a guy this week.   You changed his mind and for me, it is information I would not have known.   When I got home and read this article, I became a very big fan.   Your dedication to your profession, the species that you take people to catch and to helping inform the public is appreciated.   I am sure it is also attacked as well.   With the challenge of the debater you convinced I am assuming this is not a problem for you.   I would be happy to see you listed on a future advisory board for these matters.    It is just so obvious that you are in touch with the world, spend more time out there than most and you are not afraid to stand behind what you think is right.  I just wanted to write to thank you again.

You might not remember me.   I met you at the Redfish consortium they held about a year and a half ago.   Remember how there were 40 people who showed up and it was unanimous, no one wanted the stupid change they proposed?  But they passed it anyway?   I lost all faith in this system then.   This, as someone who is retired and gets to fish anytime I like, I probably rank up there with you and other full time guides as far as “seeing” out there.   Snook.  Yeah, I know where there are some snook.  About 40 of them.   And that.  That’s about it.   You are correct.   If people do not follow your lead they would be able to legally harvest ¾ of that group of snooks.     With the other areas that have a lot of under slot snook, I feel that two more full years of closure is even better than opening it up next year.      Who are they trying to appease anyway?

Charge on my friend.   I moved so I don’t really have any input directly but I was there when they died.   They drastically played down the loss in the west central area.   I will be moving back in several years so I hope your effort has results.    Let everyone keep something else if they want to eat a fish.

You are the best snook fishing guide I have ever gone with, and I have gone out with about 8 or 9 guys.  If you are making this statement, it HAS TO BE TRUE.   Jack, who I brought to your seminar, he hired a power boat guide and on their snook trip, they caught one baby.   He was a little annoyed when the guide said “there jus’ aint dat many to kitch.”   He said “Then why did you let me take a snook trip?”   I will watch how this develops.   Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

Thanks for delaying the submission of comments.   Mine:  Hurt.   I was not asked.   If I had been I would have put together something very complete that would be useful in “making a decision.”    It is time for some changes.    You, you are something not to change.   The FWRI:   Time to just get new people.    My history and knowledge, similar to yours.   The insult, probably the same as what you are feeling.     The species and the condition:   Slightly better than last year but still the third worst year I have ever seen in 54 years of “snook fishing” these waters.    Mention of down south:   Better but down.    Just about to see real results in another ten months.    I would like to push to find out how they arrived at this.    Statistically.    Statistics are on paper.   The (lack of) fish are in the water.  Don’t stop what you are doing.


For more on the reopening of snook in 2013, read these articles:

The Snook Fallacy

Reopen Snook?

Neil Taylor is a former professional baseball umpire, full-time kayak fishing guide, outdoor writer/speaker and the administrator and owner of

Neil Taylor

Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed and eventually became that web site’s owner.
Neil Taylor

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