Saltwater anglers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida will be watching closely to see what transpires this week when the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) meets in Charleston.
SAFMC is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic from North Carolina to Key West. Here are some of the topics on the agenda:
The Snapper Grouper Committee will review public hearing comments and continue discussion of alternatives for modifying the start dates, days of the week and minimum number of fishing days required for opening the red snapper seasons.
Dolphin and wahoo
The Dolphin Wahoo Committee will to discuss management options for both dolphin and wahoo to include in draft Amendment 10 to the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan.
Snapper and grouper
The Snapper Grouper Committee will discuss proposed requirements for the use of descending devices, venting tools and circle hooks, as well as changes to restrictions on powerhead gear. The Council is scheduled to approve Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 29 for formal Secretarial review at this meeting.
A final vote on the latter item is expected at this week's meeting.
Bottom-dwelling species such as snappers and groupers often suffer from barotrauma, a buildup of swim bladder gases that occurs when the fish are brought up quickly from deep water. The condition can cause the stomach to pop out of the fish’s mouth and fish that are released are unable to get back to their preferred depth. They become easy prey as they struggle on the surface.
Descending devices are one method of returning caught fish to the depths. There are a variety of commercially available descending devices designed to release a fish at a certain depth.
Another method that allows fish suffering from barotrauma to return to their accustomed depth is known as venting. Venting tools are hollow needles that are inserted into the swim bladder, allowing trapped gases to escape. The fish is then able to swim back down.
Bassmaster Elite to Santee Cooper
The 2020 schedule for the Bassmaster Elite Series was unveiled this week and included is a return visit to the Santee Cooper lakes.
The April 16-19 tournament on lakes Marion and Moultrie will be headquartered in Manning. The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society has hosted 13 major events on the Santee Cooper lakes, but none since the 2009 Southern Open.
Other Bassmaster Elite events for 2020 include: Feb. 6-9, St. John's River, Palatka, Fla.; Feb. 14-17, TBA; March 6-8, Bassmaster Classic, Lake Guntersville, Birmingham, Ala.; April 2-5, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Ala.; May 29-June 1, Sabine River, Orange, Texas; June 5-9, Texas Fest, TBA; July 23-26, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, N.Y.; July 30-Aug. 2, Lake Champlain, Plattsburg, N.Y.; Aug. 13-16, Elite makeup date; Aug. 20-23, Lake St. Clair, Macomb County, Mich.
Deer tag reminder
Although deer hunting opened on private lands on Aug. 15, more deer hunting opportunities are now opening throughout South Carolina and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters that they need to have their required deer tags.
Archery deer season opens in Game Zone 2 and antlerless deer harvest opportunities begin in Game Zones 2, 3 and 4 on Sept. 15. Deer season opens in Game Zone 1 (the extreme Upstate) on Oct. 1.
Lifetime and Senior/Gratis/Disability Licensees and youth hunters under the age of 16 must request the free base set of tags annually. All hunters may purchase up to four individual antlerless tags ($5 each for residents, $10 each for nonresidents). Tags are valid on any day beginning Sept. 15 in Game Zones 2, 3, 4 and Oct. 1 in Game Zone 1 until the end of the deer hunting season. Hunters who purchase all four optional antlerless tags will receive two free bonus tags that are valid for antlerless deer on private land only in Game Zones 3 and 4 to help control deer damage to agriculture. Additional antler restricted buck tags are also available for purchase.
Tags can be purchased by visiting dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html; by calling 1-866-714-3611; or in person at SCDNR offices in Charleston, Clemson, Florence, York and in West Columbia at the S.C. State Farmer’s Market.