Hooray for June!

The first thing that pops in my mind as June rolls around is the incredible fishing opportunities available to Texas anglers. Everything’s in play, from backwater to bluewater. It is truly one of the greatest months to be on the water.

Federal red snapper season opens June 1, and while the season length has yet to be announced, sources at TPWD say recreational anglers could get between 60 and 65 days this summer.

We have a story this month from Nick Haddad. Nick is the Sustainable Fisheries Communications Manager with Florida Sea Grant/University of Florida. His topic is the best method for dealing with barotrauma which, if you’re not familiar, is bloating that occurs when fish are reeled rapidly to the surface from deep water.

Fish suffering barotrauma often have stomachs protruding from the mouth and bulging eyes. Another sign can be a distended abdomen – the skin will seem abnormally tight to the touch.  

The bag limit in federal water is only two red snapper per day, which means anglers will invariably be releasing quite a few, hoping to fill their limit with better-than-average specimens.

The problem with releasing red snapper is that simply tossing them overboard without properly treating the barotrauma is pretty much a death sentence. Most are unable to swim back down and flop on the surface until they suffocate or a predator finds them.

As you will learn in Nick’s story, the best method for accomplishing a healthy release is the use of a descending device. Some old-school anglers might scoff, believing all that is necessary is a quick poke with a deflating tool. Truth is, though, too few fishermen know how to do it properly. Even though the fish might appear to swim away healthy, it will likely soon die from injury to internal organs.

“Return ‘Em Right” is the name chosen by Florida Sea Grant/University of Florida for their program to encourage anglers to participate in the best methods for releasing reef fish, and they’re offering a deal that’s hard to pass up.

In Nick’s words; Gulf anglers (18 & older) that complete Return ‘Em Right’s short 15-minute review of best practices at RER website  will be shipped a package of release gear that includes a SeaQualizer descending device pre-rigged to a 3-lb weight, an inverted hook descending device, and a sticker and brochure on best practices (~$100 value). The project aims to improve reef fish survival by equipping anglers with the knowledge and gear to successfully release reef fish suffering from barotrauma.

I encourage all readers to get on the water this month and enjoy the wonderful fishing opportunity June provides. While you’re at it…Take a Kid Fishing!