Recent changes to the buoys marking the Boca Grande Channel will affect tarpon anglers and others fishing in Boca Grande Pass during the months of April, May, and June.
Because of natural shifts in the depth, location, and configuration of shoals bordering the channel, the U.S. Coast Guard recently moved several buoys that marked the Boca Grande Channel to better align with the current location of the channel. One of the buoys that was moved (Flashing Red Buoy #12) was used as a reference point to mark the boundaries of Boca Grande Pass for the purposes of implementing specific fishing gear restrictions in the area. Flashing Red Buoy #12 was removed and was replaced with a new buoy (Charlotte Harbor Channel LB 6), located approximately a quarter of a mile to the East-Southeast of the old buoy. This change required that the boundaries of the Boca Grande Pass gear restriction area be updated to incorporate the location of the new buoy marking the entrance to the Pass (see the attached map). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has issued an Executive Order to ensure that the area where the Boca Grande Pass gear restrictions apply is updated before the regulations take effect on April 1, 2016. FWC staff plans to recommend the Commission permanently correct the name and location of the new buoy through the formal rule change process at the June 2016 Commission meeting in Apalachicola.
Regulations that apply within this area defined as Boca Grande Pass include:
· During the months of April, May and June, no more than three fishing lines may be deployed from a vessel at any one time.
· During the months of April, May and June, no person shall use, fish with, or place in the water any breakaway gear.
· Fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited. This applies to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. Natural bait is not considered to be a weight. If the jig fishes in an illegal manner it is prohibited. Any jig that allows the attached weight to slip down the shank so that it hangs lower than the hook while the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited, and must be stowed so it is not readily accessible.
To learn more about tarpon, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations,” and “Tarpon.”
For additional information regarding the change to the Boca Grande Pass gear restriction boundary, contact Kyle Miller at 850-487-0554.