Florida Freshwater Fishing
Frequently answered questions
Do I need a freshwater or saltwater fishing license or both?
In general, you need a freshwater license to take freshwater fish and a saltwater license to take saltwater fish, unless one of the exemptions specified on page 12 applies. If you are fishing in fresh water where no saltwater species live, you need a freshwater license and, likewise, if you are fishing in the ocean or Gulf you need a saltwater license. However, when you get into estuarine areas where salt and fresh water mix and fish of both types can be found, the issue becomes less clear. The interpretation of the rule is:
You need either a freshwater, saltwater or combination license, or appropriate exemption, to take fish (take is legally defined as taking, attempting to take, pursuing, molesting, capturing or killing any fish, or their nests or eggs by any means whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such fish or their nests or eggs). If you are using species-specific gear, your license should be appropriate (e.g., freshwater or saltwater) to the species you are targeting. Otherwise you need an appropriate type license to keep your catch and must immediately release any species for which you are not licensed. License requirements follow the species of fish, regardless of where they are caught. For example, if you only have a freshwater license and are primarily fishing for largemouth bass or bream (freshwater species) in a river, but happen to catch a red drum (a saltwater species), you must immediately release the red drum. An exception is you may take mullet from fresh water with only a freshwater fishing license, even though they are normally considered a saltwater species.
What regulations apply to frogs?
Pine Barrens treefrogs, Gopher frogs, and Florida bog frogs may not be taken from the wild. For all other frogs and toads, there are no seasons, bag or size limits and a recreational license is not needed. To sell frogs or take frogs to sell, a commercial fish dealers license is required. Frogs may be taken in accordance with 68A-26.002, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), including use of gigs—provided gigs are not specifically prohibited in the area. Florida Bog frogs may not be possessed without a Scientific Collectors Permit.
What regulations apply to freshwater crayfish?
There are no seasons, gear, bag or size limits for freshwater crayfish, and neither a recreational nor commercial license is needed. It is illegal to take Florida’s state-listed crayfish (Panama City, Sims Sink and Black Creek crayfishes) and all cave-inhabiting crayfish.
What regulations apply to freshwater turtles?
Licenses and permits are not required to take a recreational bag limit of turtles in accordance with rules provided below. Freshwater turtles can only be taken by hand, dip net, minnow seine or baited hook.
Freshwater turtles taken from the wild may not be sold, but freshwater turtles raised on turtle aquaculture facilities or purchased from licensed vendors as captive bred stock can be sold pursuant to possession and take limits in accordance with 68A-25.002 FAC. Snapping turtles, cooters and map turtles may not be taken from the wild because of similarity to Alligator snapping turtles, Suwannee cooters, and Barbour’s map turtles, respectively. Additionally, Alligator snapping turtles, Suwannee cooters, Barbour’s map turtles, and Striped mud turtles from the Lower Keys may not be taken from the wild or possessed without a Scientific Collectors Permit.
The following species have a possession limit of two: loggerhead musk turtles, box turtles, Escambia map turtles, and Diamondback terrapins. For all other freshwater turtles, take is limited to one turtle per person per day from the wild, except for those with zero take allowed as described in the previous paragraph. Freshwater turtles can only be taken by hand, dip net, minnow seine or baited hook. Many freshwater turtle species may be taken year round, but softshell turtles may not be taken from the wild from May 1 to July 31. In addition, collection and possession of freshwater turtle eggs is prohibited without a permit. You may transport no more than one turtle at a time, unless you have proof that all turtles were purchased legally (receipt indicating the purchase date, quantity and species of turtles acquired, the name and address of supplier, and license identification number of supplier), an importation permit from the FWC for turtles being brought into Florida, or a valid Aquaculture Certificate of Registration from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS: FloridaAquaculture.com). Red-eared sliders may be harvested without a permit but not possessed alive without a Conditional Species license or permit. Those in possession of a valid Aquaculture Certificate of Registration and restricted species authorization from the FDACS (FloridaAquaculture.com) may culture and sell red-eared sliders, but only to out-of-state recipients or Floridians who have a valid Conditional Species license or permit. However, certified turtle farmers that buy red-eared sliders for direct retail sale must have a License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESC). Conditional species information is at MyFWC.com/license/wildlife/nonnative-species. ESC license information is available at MyFWC.com/license/captive-wildlife/applications/. Rules subject to change; see FLrules.org for the latest.
What regulations apply to clams, mussels and other mollusks?
Regulations governing taking and possession of freshwater mussels are covered by 68A-23.015 FAC. In summary, “Taking” live or dead freshwater mussels for the purpose of sale, as well as “selling,” is prohibited. Bag Limit: No person shall take more than 10 freshwater mussels, or 20 half-shells of the families Unionidae and Margaritiferidae per day. Additionally, no person may possess more than two days’ bag limit (20 individuals, 40 half-shells) of any mussels of these families. Any deviation requires a permit from the Executive Director, in accordance with 68A-9.002 FAC (see illustrations on Methods of Taking Fish).
- Freshwater mussels from families other than the two mentioned above, such as Asian clams, may be taken for bait or personal use. No recreational license is needed.
- Mussels may only be taken by “hand-picking.” Use of brailles, crowfoot bars, or other mechanical methods is prohibited.
What regulations apply to harvesting fish for home aquaria?
Rules and regulations for recreational take and possession apply. You cannot be in possession, nor may your aquarium contain more than these limits. Legal methods of collecting and license requirements also apply. You need a freshwater fishing license to take (defined as “taking, attempting to take, pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing any freshwater fish, their nests or eggs, by any means, whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such freshwater fish or their nests or eggs”). Avoid taking Florida’s endangered species. A list of them can be found at MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats.
How do I use total length and girth to estimate bass weight?
When you don’t have a scale, you can use total length and girth to get a rough estimate of a bass’ weight. Use the following formula: Total Length (in inches) squared, times girth (in inches) divided by 1200. For example, a 22″ long bass with a girth of 15″ would weigh about 6.1 pounds (22 x 22 x 15 / 1200 = 6.1). See Legacy.MyFWC.com/Fish for an online calculator.