Blueline Harvest Opens May 1

Here’s a reminder for anyone going out deep-water bottom fishing in the Atlantic, new regulations implemented in January mean you can’t keep blueline tilefish in state or federal waters until the season opens May 1.

Florida enacted new seasons and limits for this long-lived and tasty species on Jan. 1 to bring regulations in line with regulations in federal waters of the Atlantic. Along with setting a May 1 through Aug. 31 recreational open season, the new limit is three blueline tilefish within the three-fish aggregate bag limit for grouper and tilefish. There is no minimum size limit.

Previously, harvest of blueline tilefish was open year-round in state waters of the Atlantic with a limit of two fish per person. According to a press release from FWC, the changes could help prevent recreational quota overages and overfishing.

A little online research will tell you why blueline tilefish might be in need of protection. They inhabit soft sand or mud bottom in 250 to 750 feet of water. While grouper and golden tilefish prefer rocky ledges, bluelines like to burrow in the sand or mud on flat bottoms above those drop-offs. Once located, they are easy pickings for anglers dragging bottom rigs over a snag-free surface.

Off the mid-Atlantic, before protections and where angling for blueline tilefish gained popularity years ago, it was a regular occurrence for anglers to pick popular areas clean before moving on in search of new grounds.

For more information, go to MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Tilefish” under the “Reef Fish” tab.

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