Legal fish

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

One of the frustrating things for visiting winter fishermen who like to fish on party boats here in Florida is the fact that most of what they catch they can’t keep.

I like fishing occasionally on a party boat, but I also like to have at least an outside chance of catching fish enough for a couple expensive meals.

So I decided it was a lot more cost effective to take part of the money I would have spent on a frustrating day on the water and go to the local fresh fish market.

Actually, catching a bunch of good eating ocean fish is a snap, but if they happen to be groupers or red snappers, they are off limits. If they happen to be black sea bass (the ocean bottom seems to be paved with them these days) they have to go back, because they are so heavily over fished that the season is closed.

It doesn’t matter that there are more of them than I have ever seen before. Vermillion snapper are off limits, and you can catch plenty of them too.

Now sometimes you get lucky and catch a trigger fish. They are still legal to keep, and even though years ago they were routinely tossed back, these days they are kept and with good reason; they are very tasty indeed.

Occasionally, a mutton or mangrove snapper may come over the rail, but they bite much better at night, so daytime fishermen catch very few of them.

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