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Florida Snook Need a Break from Cold Weather

Snook, Cannons Marina, floridaBy Sunday morning hundreds of snook had died in the canals of Anna Maria Island, Snead Island and the Bradenton Yacht Club in Palmetto.
Sand bream (mojarras) died today in the upper reaches of the Manatee River near Fort Hamer. With one more night of even colder weather and a hard wind gusting to 25 from the north, a lot more snook are sure to die.
If they perish in the upper Manatee River it will represent a major snook kill; probably the worst such event since the early 1960s. On Sunday afternoon there were still some snook left alive but the extremely low tide on Monday morning (caused by the north wind) could well finish off the bulk of the snook population in the Tampa to Charlotte Harbor area.
Snook are already dead in Placida and around Burnt Store south of Punta Gorda. So the freeze kill appears to extend over most of the range of Gulf Coast snook.
Many snook will not be seen for several days as they die and sink to the bottom and it takes time for them to decompose and float to the surface. By mid-week the carnage could well prove disastrous to this popular gamefish. In the event that a massive kill occurs it’s possible that the state may step in and close harvest on this already vastly restricted species. Snook harvest is already closed for most of the year.
The Christmas Eve freeze in the 1980s prompted the state to close the entire month of December to protect cold-stressed snook. The state has never had to respond to a 60s style kill. Intense scrutiny of this one-time commercially harvested gamefish only began during the late 1970s. As Florida’s most popular gamefish dies en masse there is only speculation just how bad it will get and what measures such a kill will merit from fishery managers. The freeze of 2010 could well put snook off the catch list; perhaps for many years to come.

By GB Knowles Guest Write