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Message from the FWC

Fishing Regulations Florida Freshwater Fishing

The Commissioners and FWC staff want to thank the stakeholders who support our important conservation measures and for their readiness to collaborate with FWC staff. We often talk about stakeholders, but how do we define a stakeholder? A stakeholder is any person who is significantly affected by or significantly affects fish and wildlife or fish and wildlife management decisions or actions. We are always impressed with how much anglers care about conservation and the time they spend joining forces with us.

Lake Management Plans are developed by the FWC in conjunction with stakeholders, and in response to stakeholder concerns of the methods of managing aquatic plants. These plans are designed to ensure that Florida’s diverse habitats are responsibly managed for the long-term well-being of fish and wildlife and the benefit of people. To ensure the future of Florida waterbodies and their benefit to people, the creation and collaboration of Lake Management Plans allows local stakeholders and the FWC to jointly craft management strategies. The FWC is currently working on Lake Management Plans and seeking stakeholder input regarding goals and objectives for the lakes as well as input on methods to use that will accomplish our statutorily mandated job to manage our waterways for habitat, navigation and recreation. We believe public participation on plans like these is essential to the responsible management of Florida’s natural resources and we encourage people to be a part of this process and provide input on lakes in their area.

We are also thankful for our 5,000 volunteers, including interns, who assist the FWC with more than 90 projects annually, including fishing events and installing fish attractors. We are lucky to work alongside these special individuals who share our passion for conserving fish, wildlife and habitats.

Citizen science is a collaborative initiative that lets our stakeholders and volunteers assist the FWC with research and management efforts for projects that involve biological sampling and monitoring. This extremely valuable data influences FWC research projects such as genetic studies, the ecological health of Florida’s fresh waterbodies and the proper way to handle a trophy-sized bass for minimal stress. In fact, this data even assisted with the FWC’s freshwater black bass regulation change and it will continue to play a key role in management decisions for Florida’s fresh waterbodies. This enhances our ability to conserve Florida’s diversity of fish and wildlife species and their habitats and allows our citizen-scientists to have fun and participate in the scientific process.

FWC’s bass conservation program, TrophyCatch, is designed for anglers to turn into citizen-scientists when they catch-and-release largemouth bass heavier than eight pounds. The data we receive from angler submissions is valuable for our conservation efforts. In fact, the results of a survey of our TrophyCatch anglers showed that the top reason anglers submit their catches to the program is to provide information to the FWC. If you have participated in TrophyCatch, you can read about some of the results of your data in the Conservation Article. With stakeholder help, we will continue protecting Florida’s natural resources and people.

Freshwater Rule Changes

Chipola River and its tributaries: No person shall kill or possess shoal bass on the Chipola River or its tributaries. Any shoal bass that are caught must be released immediately.