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Goodbye red snapper, hello snook

Not sure how many area anglers are able to get out to at least 100 feet of water to target red snapper, but there’s only a few days left to do it.

The NOAA Fisheries Services issued an early season closure on red snapper for Aug. 15.

The word from offshore anglers was the American red snapper have taken over the bait supply to the point that mangrove snapper are not as often caught. Instead, some big mangrove snapper have been appearing on flats and reefs in Tampa Bay, reportedly to a staggering 7 pounds.

Still, the closure will come, and the red snapper will have a chance to thrive and reproduce and really use their aggressive feeding habits to take over. Maybe the only thing stopping the red snapper is the Goliath grouper, which are protected and have become a problem of their own, cleaning out reefs and wrecks, gliding up to steal grouper or snapper that have been hooked.

But enough complaining.

Snook season is opening in two weeks, and it should be a heck of a fall season. The general reports are that the snook bite is slow, possibly because of hot water temperatures. But, really, when it comes to fishing, it all depends on who you are, where you are and if the fish are hungry.

Anglers after Sept. 1 will be able to keep one snook between 28 and 33 inches per day. A majority of the snook populations are off the beaches and within a hundred yards of passes. Remember that a number of snook do not leave the rivers and backwater areas, so don’t give up on a shot at some big snook at night around the Manatee River bridges.

There also are some notable local fishing tournaments. The first, the Fire Charity Fishing Tournament at Mattison’s Riverside, begins with a Friday night captain’s meeting. The awards presentation, live entertainment, raffles and auctions will be Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a noon inshore weigh-in and 2 p.m. offshore weigh-in.

Proceeds benefit The Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida.

The Hillstrand brothers from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will be available for a meet and greet from 4-6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include food and beer.

For more information or sign-up forms, visit www.firecharityfishing.com.

Finally, the 2009 Ben Gullett Mullet Invitational is coming up on Sept. 11-12. The tournament will be held out of the Star Fish Co. in Cortez. For more information, call the Star Fish Co. at (941) 794-1243 or visit www.cortezvillage.org for official tournament rules and entry form.

Fall is almost here, and some anglers consider September the best time of the year to fish.

Probably because of the dancing barometer and biting fish.

Or the football fish fries.

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