Increase Release Survival

Here's how you can make a huge difference for the future of gamefish..

Barracuda are reportedly on the decline in the Keys, as well as around the state. The great barracuda is a thrill to catch on light tackle, and landing one can make an angler's day. Barracuda sightings also provide excitement for snorkelers and divers navigating coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

The Lower Keys Guides Association is calling on state fishery managers to implement more protection of the toothy beast.

The idea of barracuda becoming a viable commercial fishery did not seem probable more than a decade ago. State and federal fishery managers never established rules for its commercial harvest, leaving it basically an unregulated fishery.

That means commercial fishermen with the most basic saltwater products license can harvest as much barracuda as they want, said fishing guide Capt. John O'Hearn, president of the Lower Keys Guides Association.

State fishery managers did establish a two-fish, or 100-pound, bag limit for the recreational harvest of the fish.


Cesar Colla c robalo
 Cesar Colla muestra como retener a los peces grandes
Editors note -  Thanks to SGF member Cesar Colla for translating this article for spanish readers.  For english translation see here

Mantener nuestra robustas pesquerías contando el total de tus capturas y manejando con destreza todos los peces que liberas.

Manejo del pez

- Minimiza el tocar el pez dado que esto puede remover una capa protectora que tienen los peces.

- Si vas a manejar un pez usa tus manos mojadas y limpias.

- Dale soporte al pez por debajo de su cabeza y su vientre.

- Minimiza la exposición al aire un máximo de 15 segundos es recomendado.

- Trata de no utilizar artefactos para agarrar los peces por su mandíbula dado que esto puede causar lesiones a esta.

- Si el peso del pez es deseado favor añadirle un tipo de cuna a la escala para soportar el peso.


Best Practices for Catch & Release FishingCatch and Release

Sustain our robust fisheries by counting your total catch and handling with skill all the fish you release.

Here's an update on best practices:



During a recent trip... I became an outlaw.

Doug Olander, Editor-in-Chief, Sport Fishing Magazine (



During a recent trip off the coast of Louisiana, I became an outlaw. Anglers in the Gulf of Mexico must by law carry a venting tool; they use this to poke a hollow needle through the abdomen of barotraumatized fish (those “inflated” by pressure changes when reeled up from deep water) before releasing them. 

We began the day following the letter of that law, with experienced hands carefully inserting the needle and trying to gently push trapped gases out of the fish.

The fact is, no matter how carefully one does this, some fish still float away to die. Some dive down a bit but then bob back up, helpless from air still trapped inside them. And those that don’t die immediately could well expire afterward from infection or damage to internal organs from the needle.


Director Rick Roberts' favorite cousin with her first snook, and of course, she's happy,.  However, hanging the snook by the jaw can harm the fish so the better way to pose would be holding the fish horizontally.  (since this snook was  not heavy it was likely unharmed).
How to Get the Best Shot of your Fish and the Shot that's Best for your Fish

 Snook Foundation's 'Best Shots' online photo album and contest is for readers to share the memories of their best catch and release fishing trips.  Monthly Awards to the 'Best' adult and child photos will be given.  Judging won't be easy!  But we do have a few guidelines here that you can apply to increase your chances of getting posted as a Winner, as well as creating consistent, great photos.



Here are a few pointers on how to get it done as safely as possible:

  • Whenever possible, take measurements with fish, especially snook, still in the water. Much easier with a second set of hands, but as long as an accurate length can be obtained, it will always be the safest option for the fish.
  • If you remove the fish from the water, support the body. A wet hand  is best. Horizontal body support provides better control of the fish, decreasing your chances of dropping the cargo.
  • Crimp your hooks. Using bait? Consider circle hooks. Remove hooks while fish is controlled, then you can release the fish on your terms.
  • When releasing a snook, a proven method is to advance the fish to allow water to wash through the gills. Holding her jaw with your thumb, you will know she’s ready to go when she gently clamps down.  Do not move here back and forth in the water.
  • Hurry up! Less time in your hands equals less stress, and less stress equals better survival rates.
  • Avoid touching the gills and eyes.

Read More on this Subject Click Here



Anglers Unite for the Conservation of Fish Stocks

Capt Barry
Capt. Barry Brimacomb demonstrates handling a big fish gently with the boga grip so as not to damage its jaw.

The most important steps an angler can take to ensure a successful release are to hook and land the fish as quickly as possible, leave the fish in the water while removing the hook, and release the fish quickly. There are several other ways to improve survival rates:


Taking the measure of your catch

without removing the fish from the water.

Measure in the Water

First, measure the fish while still in the water from the jaw to pinched tip of the tail. Release immediately if not a keeper. Photo credit: Peter Hinck

I think it was Outdoor Life writer Patrick Mcmanus who referred to the bizarre natural force that pushes anglers’ hands apart when they are describing the fish that got away. And anyone that has ever photographed a fish understands how important it is to hold the fish as close to the camera as possible – of course just to make sure the proper perspective is captured.

But whether you are planning to keep a slot snook (click here for slot/regs), or release your catch it's good to know the true length and weight of the larger fish you reel in.

Snook researchers have extensively studied the relationship between length and weight of snook, making it easy to use a table of measurements such as the one below to determine a fish's weight. Using the measured length of the fish, from lower jaw to pinched tip of the tail, the guide will show the expected weight of your snook at different times of year.

This eliminates the need to take multiple measurements and apply some kind of formula (which doesn’t necessarily work for snook), thus decreasing the amount of handling.


Capt. Van
Capt Van Hubbard: First and foremost, go fishing for fun.

A new twist on circle hooks keeps your bait in place

Remember that smart fish, (and snook could be the smartest,) do not waste their energy.

Some points to ponder in choosing your fishing spots: Snook do not like cold water. They are sub tropical and love hot water. When it’s hot, they will hold in a shaded current flow waiting patiently for food to be delivered. The Snook Motto may well be, Why work harder than you need to? Current seams, pilings, points, jetties are all examples of feeding stations for hungry snook; key word hungry. Resting fish hold in different places out of currents.


Large Scale Fat Snook
The Large Scale Fat Snook (C.mexicanus) is the fifth species so far identified in Florida.

How Many Species of Snook in Florida?

At least five species of snook are found in Florida and Texas waters.

Shown here with a dart tag, the Large Scale Fat Snook is the newcomer, that has recently been found in the St.Lucie, Loxhatchee and Sebastian Rivers. Also known as the Mexican or Guianan Snook, its range was previously known as eastern Mexico to Brazil. There may be 6 or 7 snook species eventually identified as genetic studies progress, according to Ron Taylor, senior biologist with FWRI.