From FWC Fish Busters Bulletin
Holiday season is upon us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or having a few extra days to celebrate with family and friends, coming up with appropriate presents can be a challenge.
The key to gift-giving is matching the gift to the individual, while making sure it is something they’ll enjoy, is hopefully good for them and not too expensive. And if it helps Mother Nature too, maybe that’s the perfect gift. With that in mind, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has several suggestions for your holiday shopping.
How about an offering guaranteed to create a happier, healthier and more productive lifestyle? Richard Louv, chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network and author of “The Nature Principle” and “Last Child in the Woods,” has made a solid case, supported by years of research, that connecting with nature results in those benefits. Being able to spend time in nature brings people of any age back to the roots connecting them with the nurturing earth.
In a time when frantic schedules, enclosed spaces and constant noise tend to drive us a little crazy, it is a real gift to get outdoors and relax with family and friends, get moving to burn off some excess holiday calories and open the door to better communications.
To start, how about planning a nature hike or fishing trip?
“Perhaps more than any other form of recreation, fishing and boating are critical to the health and well-being of America’s outdoor heritage,” according to the Outdoor Foundation. “By boat and on land, the first outdoor experience for many Americans is fishing, introducing tens of millions of people each year to the wonders of nature. Fishing also serves as an important bridge and top ‘gateway’ activity that leads participants to other outdoor passions.”
So why not invite your family and friends on a fun fishing trip, right here in Florida – the Fishing Capital of the World (FishingCapital.com)? An annual resident fishing license is easy to obtain at License.MyFWC.com, by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA or visiting a local retailer that sells fishing tackle and licenses. A five-year freshwater fishing license makes an especially great gift. While you are purchasing the license, you will have the opportunity to make a donation to the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network to help the FWC with “Creating the next generation that cares.”
An annual freshwater fishing license costs just $17. Since the average angler fishes 17 times a year (U.S. Census Bureau research) and enjoys four to five hours on a typical trip, the cost is less than a quarter per hour of fun and healthy recreation. When you purchase a license you are also providing a gift to nature and future generations of anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. For 75 years, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program has guaranteed that fishing license fees are protected by law and can only be used for fish and wildlife conservation. Moreover, fees collected by the federal government on fishing tackle, pleasure boats and motor boat fuels provide additional funding for recreational fishing and conservation.
While putting a fishing-related gift pack together, you can find lots of information about fishing tips and gear at MyFWC.com/Fishing, along with fishing sites and up-to-date forecasts. One of the most fun tips is to have everyone register for Florida’s freshwater angler recognition programs, including TrophyCatch and Big Catch, at TrophyCatchFlorida.com. When you register, you become eligible for a Phoenix 619 Pro bass boat and trailer, with a Mercury outboard and Motor Guide trolling motor. That drawing will be in October 2013.
However, for the hard-core freshwater anglers who travel from all across the world to fish Florida’s fresh water, the ultimate catch is a trophy largemouth bass. The FWC and corporate partners reward anglers for reporting those fish and then releasing them to challenge another angler and to keep the fishery thriving. To learn more and keep informed, please “like” us at Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida.
Another great gift that will help anglers boast about their sport while supporting conservation is a “Go Fishing” largemouth bass specialty license plate for their vehicle or trailer. Simply go to Buyaplate.com, or purchase a gift certificate at an authorized motor vehicle office.
Enjoy your holidays and a lifetime of active nature-based recreation. Get Outdoors Florida!