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Did I read correctly that it is illegal to harvest and/or possess Red Fish in Federal Waters? If so, can someone explain intelligently why? Every spot we hit last weekend 10-20 miles out was loaded with RF. Some were caught jigging others on frozen bait. I did vent, although quite difficult, and return, but learned later that it was in fact illegal. So many rules!
 

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I think the Reds found that far out are usually breeding and therefore an attempt is made to protect them. (Don't quote me on this).



We almost learned the hard way a few years ago. We were at the Buffalo Barges off of Gulf Shores and caught one that after venting still couldn't get back down. We generally don't keep big bull reds, but you can keep one above slot in AL. Not knowing this didn't apply in federal waters, we put the fish in the cooler rather than letting it go to waste.



As luck would have it the man came by and asked if we had any fish on board. Not knowing we broke the law we openly said "just a red fish." Needless to day we were boarded. The guys were really nice though. Let us off with a warning.



Is it illegal to "posses" them as in bring them on board for the purpose of venting? That's not my understanding. They are really susceptible to the swim bladder issues. I'll continue to vent them. I can't see getting a citation for trying to properly release a fish.
 

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We had the same problem and we were about 12 miles out--we found them to be VERY difficult to vent, but we did manage to get them back in the water safely--but a couple of times we had to get them on the boat and vent them twice. I think one went the way of the dolphin, but that was it. They are fun to catch but I hate to think that they don't survive some times.
 

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We ran into the same problem about four weeks ago. We were fishing in 220 feet and deeper and the bull reds would not leave us alone. We moved four times to try and get away from them to no avail. We ending up running to 600 feet to finally get away from them for the day. The four spots were atleast 2 miles from each other. I can not imagine just how many redfish were around that day.
 

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The redfish rule was one of the first ones made back in the 70's. As long as you return them when in federal waters it is ok. If you get and keep some in state watersthen move out into federal waters with them aboard you are in violation for possesing them. That is why in Venice weonly try for them on the way in.

The ones in those waters are usually the big breeders anyway.
 
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