According to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, daily bag limits for recreational anglers fishing state waters are set for a 24-hour period from midnight to midnight. It’s important to note that daily bag limits are also enforced as daily possession limits. That being the case, it is illegal for an angler to possess more than one day’s bag limit while in, on, or above the waters of the state or on any dock, pier, bridge, beach or other fishing site adjacent to such waters. Once you’ve caught and possess the bag limit for a particular species, you may not harvest any more of that species until the next 24-hour period.
However, Florida reef fish regulations provide exemptions to the general rule stated above for the following game fish: mangrove snapper, Atlantic vermillion snapper, cubera snapper, red grouper, hogfish, black sea bass, red porgy, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish. Specifically, if an angler has fished for more than one day, the reef fish rule allows for the possession of double the daily bag limit once the angler has landed the fish, departed the fishing site and is no longer within 100 yards of any state waters, docks, fishing piers, or other fishing sites.
This rule also entitles anglers fishing from a headboat or charter boat on a trip that spans more than 24 hours to catch and possess double the daily bag limit for the designated reef species, provided the vessel has a sleeping berth for each passenger and the passenger has a receipt that verifies the length of the trip. If you are in federal waters, federal regulations apply. South Atlantic Federal Regulations can be found online at safmc.net and Gulf of Mexico Federal Regulations are accessible at gulfcouncil.org.
So there you have it. If you are legitimately fishing for the aforementioned reef species, over more than a 24-hour period, it is allowable to harvest double the daily bag limit. You are not allowed to harvest your bag limit for each day on the water, and you can’t transport your catch to shore and head back out to harvest another daily bag limit during the same calendar day.
There’s no cheating the system and the rules are clear and concise. If you poach you will get busted and violations will be determined at the officer’s discretion in situations where it cannot be quickly and easily determined that the catch was harvested on separate days. While it’s certainly exciting to think about the possibility of an epic trip, there’s really no need to harvest more than you can eat fresh.
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