These rules became effective on June 1, 2008 in all waters of the Gulf of Mexico and affect
    all reef fish species including groupers, snappers, amberjacks, triggerfish, porgies, sea
    bass, hogfish, and tilefish.  As of July 29, 2009, regulations require recreational and
    commercial fishers to use dehooking devices when fishing for reef fish in federal waters of
    the Atlantic off Florida.  Consistent regulations have been in effect in state waters of the
    Atlantic since January 19, 2010.  Effective March 3, 2011, non-stainless steel circle hooks
    must be used when fishing for reef fish with hook and line gear and natural baits north of
    latitude 28°N in Atlantic federal waters.

    The intent of these rules is to help conserve fishery resources by minimizing mortality
    associated with releasing fish that are not going to be harvested due to regulations or for
    other reasons. Fishers and anglers are being asked to be responsible to acquire and use
    the required gear when fishing for reef fish species.

    Circle Hooks
    The rules require fishers on all vessels fishing for reef
    fish in the Gulf to possess and use non-stainless steel
    circle hooks when natural baits are used. A circle hook
    is a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the
    point is not offset, but turned perpendicularly back to the
    shank to form a generally circular or oval shape.

    At its June 2010 meeting, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a
    management measure that would require persons aboard vessels fishing for reef fish in
    Atlantic federal waters north of 28° latitude (near Melbourne) to use non-stainless steel
    circle hooks.  This requirement will be reviewed by NOAA Fisheries Service and is subject
    to the approval of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.  If approved by the Secretary of
    Commerce, the circle hook requirement for Atlantic federal waters would likely go into effect
    later this year.

    Dehooking Devices
    Fishers on all vessels fishing for reef fish in state and
    federal waters of the Gulf and Atlantic, are required to
    possess and use a dehooking device to remove hooks
    embedded in reef fish with minimal damage. The
    dehooking device must be constructed to allow the hook
    to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging
    during the removal process. It must be blunt and all edges
    rounded, and it must be of a size appropriate to secure the
    range of hook sizes and styles used in the reef fish fishery.

    Venting Tools

    The venting tool must be inserted into the fish at a 45-degree angle approximately 1 to 2
    inches from the base of the pectoral fin and be inserted just deep enough to release the
    gases so that the fish may be released with minimum damage.

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
    620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
    32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676

More helpful Florida Keys and Key West websites: | |
Upper Keys Fishing
Marine Fisheries News
All About Florida Keys Fishing & Key West Fishing

Reef Fish Gear Rules
State and federal
regulations require all
commercial fishers and
recreational anglers fishing
for any reef fish species in
the Gulf of Mexico to use
circle hooks, dehooking
devices and venting tools.
Additionally, common sense should be used in abiding by
these rules.  For instance, if a hook is too far embedded in
the throat or gut of the fish, it is much better to cut the line
from the hook rather than try to remove the hook with a
dehooking device.  The non-stainless steel hooks will
disintegrate in a relatively short period of time and should
cause the fish less harm.  Also, fish should only be vented
after one or all of the following characteristics are noticed on
a fish: the stomach protrudes from the mouth, the eyes are
bulging, the belly region is swollen, or the intestines are
sticking out of the anus
On this site, you'll learn about Florida Keys
Fishing, Florida Keys Fish, Florida Keys Fishing
Charters, Dolphin Fishing, Swordfishing, Florida
Keys Fishing Guides, Florida Keys Offshore
Fishing, Florida Keys Deep Sea Fishing, Florida
Keys Flats Fishing, Florida Keys Back Country
Fishing,  Tarpon Fishing, Bonefishing, Florida
Keys Fly Fishing, Reef Fishing, Wreck Fishing,
Bridge Fishing, Deep Drop Fishing, Lobstering in
the Florida Keys, Stone Crabbing, Shrimping,
Spearfishing, Fishing Regulations and much more!
All About Florida Keys Fishing and Key West Fishing