Beginning Feb. 1, several rule changes for spotted seatrout will go into effect including a closure to spotted seatrout harvest in the new Western Panhandle management zone. Spotted seatrout are one of Florida’s most popular inshore fisheries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made these changes after reviewing the results of a recent stock assessment and gathering input from anglers. These changes were made to benefit spotted seatrout populations while continuing to provide quality fishing opportunities.


The following rules go into effect Feb. 1, 2020:


•Creating two new zones by splitting the Northwest spotted seatrout management zone into the:


Western Panhandle (Escambia County through the portions of Gulf County west of longitude 85 degrees, 13.76 minutes but NOT including Indian Pass/Indian Lagoon).


Big Bend (remaining portion of Gulf County plus Indian Lagoon, and Franklin County through Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County).


•Reducing bag limits


Western Panhandle: three fish (was five).


Big Bend: five fish (no change).


South Florida: three fish (was four).


Central East: two fish (was four).


Northeast: five fish (was six).


•Modifying the recreational slot size limit from 15-to-20 inches to 15-to-19 inches total length.


•Allowing one seatrout over 19 inches per vessel (currently per harvester


•Prohibiting captain and crew from keeping a bag limit on a for-hire trip.


•Re-establishing the February recreational closure in the Western Panhandle zone and the November-December recreational closure in the Central East zone.


•Reducing the current daily commercial limits to 50 per harvester and 100 per vessel.


•Removing an unnecessary commercial reporting form.


For additional information on spotted seatrout go to MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on "Recreational Regulations" and "Spotted Seatrout."