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Summertime rolls out the welcome mat for coastal fishing with warm weather, relatively calm conditions and abundant angling opportunities. But amid the rod-bending revelry, make sure to consider a few key points when it comes to responsible resource use.

Right with Regs
As summer brings an influx of novice anglers by way of vacations to coastal destinations, let’s start with the one that irks me to no end: not knowing the regulations. If you use the resource, you are subject to local laws regardless of where you receive your mail.

Bait and tackle shops almost always have regulation documents available; but you know, this internet thing is really catching on, so it’s not too hard to locate the basics of size, season, bag limit and licensing for the state in which you’re fishing.

There’s no harm in asking fellow anglers to help you identify a fish you don’t recognize, but don’t expect the old “I’m not from around here” excuse to garner much sympathy from fisheries law enforcement.

And to that point, pay particular attention to license requirements for shore-bound fishing. Florida, for example, requires anglers fishing from shore (including with waders), piers, jetties, or bridges to possess a no-cost license.

Know before you go. Paying a fine because you didn’t obtain a free license is just silly.

Safe Returns
Releasing fish that do not meet size, season, or bag limit regulations requires more than simply dumping them overboard. Avoid touching the eyes and gills and be careful not to squeeze too hard, especially around the abdomen area.

Also, handle with a wet towel or a wet hand to help preserve the slime coating, which repels infections and enables the fish to move smoothly through the water.

Revive As Needed
Consider also that extended fights in warm—make that hot—summer shallows can be tough on bigger fish. The best way to ensure release survival is to support your fish at boatside and allow it to regain its strength before letting go.

You’ll feel increasing power in the tail strokes as a fish recharges, so simply relax your grip and let the fish slide off your hands under its own power.