If you are fishing in Pasco or Pinellas county waters south, keep releasing spotted sea trout — at least until May 31.
New trout regulations that go into effect Saturday are confusing some, who may be thinking they can begin keeping trout in waters north of Fred Howard Park, in Tarpon Springs, beginning Feb. 1. That isn’t the case. The special closure on trout up to the Hernando County line will remain in effect until May 31.
The new rules change bag limits, size limits and fishing zones, but as is usually the case, understanding the fishing rules can be a bit challenging.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced recently that starting Feb. 1 the following will apply:
Anglers fishing the Big Bend zone, which runs from Fred Howard Park to Franklin County in the panhandle, can keep five trout 15 to 19 inches year-around. Despite the Feb. 1 effective date, the special closure on trout from the Hernando-Pasco line south will remain in effect until May 31.
For those fishing from Fred Howard Park south, which after Saturday will be called the South zone, when the special closure is finally lifted, anglers will be permitted three trout per day between 15 and 19 inches, with the season open all year.
In all cases, a single trophy trout over 19 inches per vessel is permitted.
The FWC will meet in February to discuss whether the special closures, which apply to trout, redfish and snook—can be lifted or modified before May 31.