Anglers brave cold for fish

Tina Harbuck

If you’re used to living in 5 degree weather and then you make it to the sunny state of Florida and it’s a balmy 35 degrees, I guess it’s not that bad.

Well such was the case for about 30 folks who braved the 30 degree temps on Wednesday for a six-hour fishing trip aboard the Destin Princess with Capt. Chris McConnell.

“It was a good (day) … a little chilly but not bad,” said Bob Bergren of Minnesota who went fishing with his grandson Brandt Kohrer.

The two of them filled their stringer with triggerfish, mingo and white snapper.

And yes, you can keep triggerfish right now.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council put out a clarification last Friday on federal water regulations. The clarification had to deal with triggerfish and amberjack.

The long and short of it is anglers can currently keep triggerfish and amberjack.

The recreational harvest of triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico federal waters opened Jan. 1 and will close on Jan. 16, and will reopen on March 1.

As for the amberjack, it also opened on Jan. 1, but will shut down on Jan. 27. Regulators are looking at a possible spring and fall season for the amberjack. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

In the meantime, if you can brave the cold, the fish are there for the catching.

And catching is what the folks did aboard the Princess on Wednesday.

Doug Haskell, a winter regular, had a great day. On the first drop of the day he pulled in a triggerfish and a scamp. Before it was all said and done on Wednesday, Haskell had a stringer full of mingo, porgy, white snapper, triggerfish, lane snapper and scamp.

Haskell said he also had a couple of throw-back amberjack, that didn’t quite make the size limit. Amberjack have to be 34 inches to keep.

For Dan Davidson and Ron Coon of Ohio, they filled their stringer with triggerfish, mingo and white snapper. As for the cold, “We were prepared for it,” they said.

Even though deckhands Mike and Andrew were bundled up with toboggans, slickers and coats, they both agreed it was a bit too cold for them. Nevertheless they hung in there and helped the folks catch the fish and then cut them once they got back to the docks.

The captain even said it was a bit cold.

“It was 30 degrees, but felt colder. But it was 72 degrees in the wheelhouse,” McConnell said with a smile on his face, noting all he has to do is make it from the truck in the parking lot to the wheelhouse on the boat.

“It was blowing pretty hard out of the north … and it was pretty choppy,” he said.

However, the fish bite was good.

So if you’re feeling up to it, grab a jacket and gloves and hop on a boat.

See you at the docks.

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