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Frequently Answered Questions

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Do I need a freshwater or saltwater fishing license or both?

Answer: In general, you need a freshwater license to take freshwater fish and a saltwater license to take saltwater fish, unless one of the specified exemptions 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.

What regulations apply to frogs?

Answer: There are no seasons, bag or size limits for frogs 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 the provisions outlined in 68A-26.002, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), including the use of gigs—provided that gigs are not specifically prohibited in the area.

What regulations apply to freshwater crayfish?

Answer: 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 imperiled crayfish (Panama City, Sims Sink and Black Creek crayfishes) and all cave-inhabiting crayfish.

What regulations apply to freshwater turtles?

Answer: Licenses and permits are not required to take a recreational bag limit of turtles in accordance with the rules provided below.

Freshwater turtles taken from the wild may not be sold, but freshwater turtles raised on aquaculture facilities or purchased from licensed vendors can be sold. Possession of alligator snapping turtles, Barbour’s map turtles and Suwannee cooters is prohibited. Individuals having these species as pets before July 20, 2009 must apply for a Class III Personal Pet License to keep their pet turtles. The limit is one alligator snapping turtle and two Barbour’s map turtles per person per day. The following species and their eggs have a possession limit of two: loggerhead musk turtles, box turtles, Escambia map turtles and Diamondback terrapins.

Taking cooters, Escambia map turtles and snapping turtles from the wild is prohibited because of the similarity to Suwannee cooters, Barbour’s map turtles and alligator snapping turtles, respectively. For all other freshwater turtles, take is limited to one turtle per person per day (midnight to midnight) from the wild for noncommercial use. Freshwater turtles only can be taken by hand, dip net, minnow seine or baited hook. Many freshwater turtles may be taken year-round, but softshell turtles may not be taken from the wild from May 1 to July 31. In addition, collecting of freshwater turtle eggs is prohibited.

You may transport no more than one turtle at a time, unless you have proof that all turtles were purchased legally, and an importation/temporary possession permit (MyFWC.com/license) from the FWC, 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 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 permit. However, certified turtle farmers that buy red-eared sliders for direct retail sale must have a conditional species permit. The application for a conditional species permit is at MyFWC.com/license. Rules subject to change; see FLrules.org or the latest.

What regulations apply to clams, mussels and other mollusks?

Answer: 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 (phylum Mollusca, Class Pelecypoda) per day. Additionally, no person may possess more than two days’ bag limit (20 individual, 40 half-shells) of any mussels of these families. Any deviation to these restrictions requires a permit from the Executive Director, in accordance with 68A-9.002 FAC (see illustrations).

  • Freshwater mussels from families other than the two mentioned above, such as the Asian clam, 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?

Answer: The 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?

Answer: When you don’t have a scale, you can use total length and girth to get a rough estimate of a bass’ weight. Click here for how to measure total length and girth, then 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).

What is the penalty for fishing without a license, keeping too many fish or illegal sized fish?

Answer: Generally, noncriminal infractions involve license or permit violations, motor size issues or measurement violations related to fish. Second degree misdemeanors are criminal acts and typically involve taking fish it is illegal to take, fishing in areas that are closed, using illegal gear or counting violations (more than the bag limit). Failure to pay a noncriminal penalty (similar to a traffic ticket) within 30 days also escalates the charge to a second degree misdemeanor. Forgery of a license or use of a forged license is a third degree felony. Florida Statutes outline the range of penalties; for instance a second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to $500 and/or 60 days imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

What is the economic value of freshwater fishing in Florida?

Answer: In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau did a “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Related Recreation” to determine the amount of participation and economic impact of these outdoor activities nationwide. Freshwater fishing in Florida was estimated to generate $1.4 billion in retail sales, which produced an economic impact of $2.4 billion. This economic boon to the state of Florida sustains 23,480 jobs and provided recreation for 1.4 million anglers (resident and nonresident), who spent 24.5 million days fishing.

Overall (freshwater and saltwater combined) Florida ranks number one in In-State Anglers (2.8 million vs. #2 Texas with 2.5 million), Days of Fishing in State (46.3 million vs. #2 Texas with 41.1 million), Days of Fishing by Nonresidents (4.8 million vs. #2 Wisconsin with 3.8 million), Number of Nonresident Anglers (885 thousand vs. #2 Wisconsin with 381 thousand) and total angler expenditures ($4.4 billion vs. #2 Texas with $3.4 billion).

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