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Fishing Regulations Banner
Fish images © Diane Rome Peebles. Illustration provided for viewing purposes only.

Below are fishing regulations for many of the popular sport fish caught in the Tampa Bay area. In the case where regulations are different for Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts (e.g. snook), only the Gulf Coast is shown. These regulations are current as of Mar. 4, 2014.

A summary of recreational fishing regulations for Florida waters can be found by visiting FWC's Division of Marine Fisheries Management home page. A summary of fishing regulations for federal waters can be found at Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.

Be sure to check these sites for the the most current regulations.

Fish Identification: Often, sport fish look very similar and are hard to identify. This can be a problem when the regulations are different for each species. To help with the identification of similar species, the identification sheets below were developed and contain simple, easily seen identification keys that will help fishermen identify similar species. These sheets can be printed using a desktop printer and taken out on the next fishing trip.
Know Your Florida Fish: Greater Amberjack and Banded Rudderfish (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: Black Grouper, Gag, and Red Grouper (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel (PDF, .97 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: Florida Pompano and Permit (PDF, 1.35 MB)

Fish Measurement: Many of the fish caught in Tampa Bay have a minimum length required before they can be kept; some have a maximum length, too. Fish are measured either to the fork of the tail or the fish's total length. Not sure how to measure a fish's length? Visit Saltwater Fish Measurement Guideines, developed by FWC Division of Marine Fisheries.

Harvester: Regardless of what species you are fishing for, bag limits are only for properly licensed individuals and those people exempt from licensing requirements who are actively harvesting. People harvesting may not exceed the individual bag limit and take someone else's bag limit. That is, people (including children) who are not actively harvesting or are not properly licensed (if license is required) may NOT be counted for the purpose of bag limits.

Greater Amberjack AMBERJACK, GREATER
Minimum size limit: 30" fork
Closed season: June 1 to July 31
Daily recreation bag limit: 1 per harvester per day
Remarks: Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply.

Lesser Amberjack AMBERJACK, LESSER and BANDED RUDDERFISH
Minimum size limit: 14" fork
Maximum size limit: 22" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 5 aggregate of lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish
Remarks: Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply.

Black Drum BLACK DRUM
Minimum size limit:14" total length
Maximum size limit: 24"
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 5 per harvester per day
Remarks: May possess one over 24". Snatching prohibited. Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). State regulations apply in federal waters. Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Cobia COBIA (Ling)
Minimum size limit: 33" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 1 per harvester or 6 per vessel per day whichever is less
Remarks: Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact).

Gulf Flounder FLOUNDER
Minimum size limit: 12" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 10 per harvester per day
Remarks: May be harvested by spearing. Snatching prohibited. Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Black Grouper GROUPER, BLACK
Minimum size limit: 22" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 4 per harvester per day. Included with 4 per harvester per day grouper aggregate bag limit.
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply. Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels. For more information about grouper regulations, visit FWC Grouper Fishery Information.

Gag Grouper GAG (Gag Grouper)
Minimum size limit: 22" total length
Open season: July 1 to Dec. 3. Please cheeck MyFWC.com for more dates of 2014 Gulf open season.
Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day. Included with 4 per harvester per day grouper aggregate bag limit. No more than 1 fish may be Gag or Black Grouper, either individually or in combination.
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply. Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels. For more information about grouper regulations, visit FWC Grouper Fishery Information.

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Red Grouper GROUPER, RED
Minimum size limit: 20" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 4 per harvester per day. Included with a 4 per harvester per day grouper aggregate bag limit.
Remarks: Zero daily bag and possession limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply. For more information about grouper regulations, visit FWC Grouper Fishery Information.

Hogfish HOGFISH
Minimum size limit: 12" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 5 per harvester per day
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply.

King Mackerel MACKEREL, KING (Kingfish)
Minimum size limit: 24" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Bag limit in some state waters reduced to 1 when federal waters are closed to all harvest. Visit FWC's Saltwater Regulations or call FWC Southwest Regional Office for details.

Spanish Mackerel MACKEREL, SPANISH
Minimum size limit: 12" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 15 per harvester per day
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Transfer of Spanish mackerel to other vessels at sea is prohibited.

Permit PERMIT
Minimum size limit: 11" fork
Maximum size limit: 22" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). May possess 1 over 22" fork length included in the per person bag limit. Vessel restriction of no more than 2 permit over 22" fork length. Hook and line only in state waters. Hook and line and spearing allowed in federal waters. Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait. State regulations apply in federal waters.

Pompano FLORIDA POMPANO
Minimum size limit: 11" fork
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 6 per harvester per day
Remarks: Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest by hook and line, cast net, and beach or haul seine only. Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait. State regulations apply in federal waters.

Red Drum (Redfish) RED DRUM (Redfish)
Minimum size limit: 18" total length
Maximum size limit: 27" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: Northwest region, 2 per harvester per day; South region, 1 per harvester per day
Remarks: Northwest region includes all state waters north and west of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway to the Florida/Alabama line. South region includes state waters lying south of the Northwest region boundary to the Flagler-Volusia county line on the Atlantic Ocean. Gigging, spearing, snatching prohibited. Harvest in federal waters also prohibited. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Sheepshead SHEEPSHEAD
Minimum size limit: 12" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 15 per harvester per day
Remarks: Snatching prohibited. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

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Gray (Mangrove) Snapper SNAPPER, GRAY (Mangrove)
Minimum size limit: 10" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 5 per harvester per day
Remarks: Included within 10 per harvester per day snapper aggregate bag limit. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply.

Red Snapper SNAPPER, RED
Minimum size limit: 16" total length
Closed season: Please cheeck MyFWC.com for more dates of 2014 Gulf open season.
Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day
Remarks: Included within 10 per harvester per day snapper aggregate bag limit. Zero daily bag and posession limit for captain and crew of for-hire vessels.
For more information about snapper regulations, please visit FWC Snapper Fishery Information. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Additional gear rules apply.

Common Snook SNOOK
Minimum size limit: 28" total length
Maximum size limit: 33" total length
Closed season: Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, May 1 to Aug. 31.
Daily recreation bag limit: 1 per harvester per day
Remarks: Snook permit required for harvest when saltwater license required. State regulations apply in federal waters. Illegal to buy or sell snook. Snatch hooks and spearing prohibited. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Spotted Seatrout SPOTTED SEATROUT (Speckled Seatrout)
Minimum size limit: 15" total length
Maximum size limit: 20" total length (one fish may be greater than 20")
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: Northwest region; 5 per harvester per day; Southwest region, 4 per harvester per day
Remarks: Northwest region includes all state waters north and west of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway to the Florida/Alabama line. Southwest region includes state waters lying south of the Northwest region boundary to the Miami-Dade - Monroe County Line on the Atlantic Ocean. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.

Tarpon TARPON
Minimum size limit: None. Tarpon over 40" must remain in water during release.
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 1 per harvester per year. $50 harvest tag required. Vessel limits of one fish. Harvest tag can only be used when fish is retained for potential IGFA record.
Remarks: Harvest prohibited by or with the use of multiple hokks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait. State regulations apply in federal waters. Snatching and spearing prohibited.

Tripletail TRIPLETAIL
Minimum size limit: 15" total length
Closed season: None
Daily recreation bag limit: 2 per harvester per day
Remarks: Hook and line gear only. No snatch hooks. Fish must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins, and tails intact). Harvest prohibited by or with the use of any multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead bait.


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