Conservation Highlights

Fishing Regulations Florida Freshwater Fishing

Working Together to Ensure Great Fishing Now and Into the Future

The Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management ensures the best freshwater fishing opportunities in Florida’s lakes and rivers through stocking desirable sportfish, effectively managing fishing effort and harvest, enhancing habitats and maintaining our 80 fish management areas. Throughout the past year, FWC staff have forged new partnerships, engaged anglers and communities, completed many innovative aquatic habitat enhancement projects, and stocked a total of five million fish into Florida’s freshwaters.

The FWC operates two freshwater hatcheries that produce seven freshwater fish species which are stocked into lakes, rivers, and ponds to provide anglers with more chances to create great fishing memories. The Florida Bass Conservation Center at the Richloam Fish Hatchery features a visitor center and observation area, and produces the majority of freshwater fish that are stocked in public freshwaters throughout peninsular Florida. The Blackwater Fish Hatchery is located in Santa Rosa County and is primarily responsible for stocking waters in the panhandle, and the production of striped bass and sunshine bass.

One of the most innovative conservation projects that is currently underway is the historic stocking of one million Florida largemouth bass into Lake Apopka—which was the first experimental endeavor of its kind for the lake. Lake Apopka is Florida’s fourth largest lake and was once a renowned fishery. This unprecedented two-year stocking effort required a unique method of spawning bass that will produce 1 million largemouth bass to be stocked into the lake in an effort to restore the fishery.

The Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management also introduced a new set of black bass regulations in July 2016 that simplifies statewide bass regulations and provides the greatest potential for high quality bass fishing and trophy bass abundance. The new black bass regulations allow the daily possession of only one bass over 16 inches and organizers of bass tournaments can apply for exemptions at www.myfwc.com/license/freshwater/bass-tournament/. The new black bass regulations can be found in this Regulations Summary or visit www.myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/ for an electronic copy.

New bass regulations and other innovative programs resulted from the adoption of the Black Bass Management Plan (BBMP), which included extensive stakeholder input and outlined strategies for the long-term benefit of Florida’s black bass species and our anglers. The BBMP included management strategies for habitat, public access, new fishing opportunities, stocking, genetics, harvest management and outreach and education. The BBMP can be viewed at http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/.

The future of fishing relies on introducing people to the sport. You can help by taking someone out fishing with you! Inviting someone you care about to explore, enjoy, and conserve your local resources will help ignite a love for the sport of fishing and an appreciation for its conservation. Check out fishing camps and clinics with the Florida Youth Conservation Center Network at www.fyccn.org/ and Becoming an Outdoors Woman classes at www.myfwc.com/education/outdoor-skills/outdoors-woman/.

The mission of FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management is “To manage, enhance and conserve Florida’s freshwater aquatic life for public benefit” and the staff in this Division are continually striving to find new ways to make that mission a reality. Please reach out to FWC staff that you may see while enjoying the outdoors! We want to help make your fishing experiences as wonderful and memorable as possible. Please visit the inside cover of this Regulations Summary to find a list of our regional offices to plan a visit or contact your local FWC staff.

How to measure your catch

Total Length is the straight line distance from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail squeezed or compressed. Girth is the circumference around the fattest part of the fish. For a bass weight calculator based on length and girth visit MyFWC.com/Bass-Formula.

Top Spots to Fish for Popular Freshwater Species: