During my fishing guide days I grew to despise customers bringing cell phones on my charters. Smartphones hadn’t been invented yet; about the only useful purpose mobile devices served back then was calling for assistance in emergencies or mechanical breakdowns – if service was available. I would get annoyed to no end when clients spent time talking on their phone instead of fishing. A lot has changed since then.
I participated in a Catch-Photo-Release tournament at Port Mansfield this past weekend that utilized the Fishing Chaos app and it worked flawlessly. Fish are photographed on a measuring stick with a “unique identifier” included in the photo – in our case a wrist band. Photos are transferred to the app for score keeping. The angler with the most inches is the winner. Fish are released as soon as photos are made. How’s that for a game changer? Kudos to Getaway Lodge for hosting and contributing to fisheries conservation.
The iSnapper app is another fine example. I could go on forever trying to explain the politics surrounding the Gulf red snapper fishery, suffice to say most anglers only really care to know when the season is open and how many they can bring to the dock. Trying to understand the rest of it isn’t worth the heartburn. We can however play a key role in helping manage the fishery, and that’s where iSnapper comes into the equation.
Someday, hopefully soon, the management of Gulf red snapper will be handed over to the individual gulf states, but the path thus far has been rocky. The fly in the ointment has always been National Marine Fisheries Service’s allegations that recreational anglers are not accountable when it comes to reporting their landings. Which brings us to “buffered” harvest allocations, short seasons, and two fish bag limits. All while snapper are incredibly abundant (see Great Red Snapper Count).
I heartily encourage snapper anglers to download iSnapper to their Smartphones and report their landings as soon as cell service becomes available when returning to the dock. I see it as a “beat them at their own game” strategy. Honest reporting will always trump NMFS’s harvest estimates. And let’s be real, states only have so much manpower to conduct dockside creel surveys.
I also encourage the use of descending devices to reduce release mortality, which is another reason for short seasons. The Seaqualizer (seaqualizer.com) or similar is the answer. Florida now requires descending devices in their Atlantic red snapper fishery, that’s how effective they are. It’s as simple as keeping a rod rigged for descending fish to depths where they will survive and not die on the surface.Happy Independence Day and Take a Kid Fishing!