Snook are one of the most sought-after catches in Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry, which draws more than $6 billion to the economy annually. However, increased fishing pressure, habitat loss and natural challenges such as freezes and red tide have contributed to a decline in snook populations. Thus, for more than 25 years, Mote and Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) scientists have partnered with local fishermen on research studies designed to evaluate if stocking hatchery-reared snook can be an effective fishery management tool for replenishing snook stocks.
Those interested in becoming citizen scientists are invited to be a part of Mote’s annual William R. Mote Memorial Snook Shindig on Nov. 3-4. This event allows Mote researchers to document snook caught during the tournament to identify individual hatchery-reared fish they previously tagged and released, recovering vital data that can be used to adjust release protocols.
“This tournament gives participants a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn more about Mote’s fisheries research and conservation efforts, and assist Mote in its mission to assess the snook population size in Sarasota Bay while having a fun day on the water,” stated Mote Staff Scientist Carole Neidig.
Past tournament results have revealed that changes in snook-release strategies, based on Mote pilot studies, have improved survival of stocked snook by as much as 200 percent.
Mote scientists encourage anglers to use the tips provided by FWC when catching snook. One such tip includes proper handling methods, which can help ensure the fish’s survival and the species’ abundance. To learn more about catch-and-release and the best way to handle a fish, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”