Ready to drop a line and pursue that elusive catch? Paying close attention to Florida's fishing regulations has dual benefits: The stock of fish in the waters of St. Pete/Clearwater is maintained, and unsuspecting visitors steer clear of trouble.
Many details can come into play regarding the need for a license, but in general, if you are fishing from a boat or land, age 16 or older, you must have a fishing license. Charter boats carry a license for their passengers, so those anglers are covered while fishing on that vessel.
Before August 2009, people fishing from a structure didn't need a license, but new regulations require licenses for those who fish from bridges and piers.
In general, the following people don't need a fishing license: anyone under 16 years old, Florida residents over 65 years old, anyone fishing from a for-hire vessel and Florida residents who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces home on leave for 30 days or less.
A three-day saltwater fishing license for a nonresident costs $17. A seven-day license costs $30, and an annual license costs $47. In addition, permits are required for snook, tarpon and lobster. Licenses can be purchased online (http://myfwc.com/fishing), from tax collector offices or from other agents, such as at bait and tackle shops.
There are seasons during which certain species are available to be fished. There also may be size limits and bag limits for your catch, depending on the species. For example, the minimum size for a red grouper caught by a recreational angler in Gulf of Mexico state waters is 20 inches. And the number of red grouper that can be caught and kept by recreational anglers has been limited to one fish per day per person.
For all the details and the most up-to-date information, call 888-FISH-FLORIDA, or visit myfwc.com/fishing.