Twila Gates, from Marianna, established a new Florida freshwater fishing record with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) this month. Her catch of a 1-pound, 5.6-ounce (1.35 pounds) flier on May 9 from a Jackson County pond beat the old record of 1.24 pounds.
The 2015 season will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 23) and run through July 12, closing July 13. This season will resume for all of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7) and finish with Saturdays and Sundays throughout the rest of September and all of October, with the last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1.
Florida’s first annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (first Saturday after Mother’s Day) was a success, from statewide lionfish removal efforts to unveiling the new “Reef Rangers” lionfish removal program to educating the public about lionfish.
Hunting success in the Sunshine State depends to a large degree on having well-managed game populations, access to public lands, education, and enforcement of laws. The Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida now has a license tag dedicated to help ensure today’s sportsmen, and future generations, will continue to enjoy Florida’s unique hunting opportunities.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is celebrating its first annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day by hosting and promoting a weekend of exciting events across the state, starting Saturday, May 16, including a festival in Pensacola.
The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closes to harvest in state and federal waters starting April 1 and will reopen Aug. 6. The two-day recreational sport season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 29 and 30 this year.
This regional season will remain open through June 30, with the first day of the closure being July 1. The season also includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several public workshops in March to gather public input on the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper season in state waters (from shore out to 9 nautical miles).
Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that have a negative impact on Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. Consistent lionfish removal can reduce the negative impacts lionfish have on the reef community.
The FWC has several activities planned for the weekend of the first annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, which is May 16. On the 16th and 17th, divers across the state will be encouraged to see how many lionfish can be removed from Florida waters in one weekend.
This closure is consistent with a federal closure also starting Feb. 7 and remaining closed through Dec. 31. Gray triggerfish is considered to be overfished.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its meeting Feb. 4 in Jacksonville, increased hunting opportunities, beginning with the next hunting season (2015-2016).
It established a new public hunting area in northwest Florida called Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area. The 4,017-acre WMA tract in Santa Rosa County will offer archery, general gun, muzzleloading gun and spring turkey hunts by quota permit, and a walk-in small-game hunting season.
The Oyster Gardening program concluded its first year of operation having successfully recruited more than 800 waterfront residents who dedicated about 135,000 hours to growing oysters inside specially designed habitats suspended from their docks. These volunteers also collected data that determined the most successful areas of the county for oysters.
Sign up today to participate in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. The easy, no-cost process will help the FWC paint a clearer picture of how many people are targeting Gulf reef fish, like red snapper and gag grouper, and what anglers are seeing on the water.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program awarded the Season 2 Hall of Fame winner, Joseph “Brooks” Morrell from Hampton, with the TrophyCatch championship ring from the American Outdoors Fund. Morrell caught, documented and released a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass to earn the top prize for Season 2 (Oct. 1, 2013, to Sep. 30, 2014).
Several species of grouper will close to recreational and commercial harvest starting Jan. 1 in Florida state waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County. This seasonal closure includes gag, black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin and tiger grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore out to 3 nautical miles.
The 2014 legislative session transferred the “Deer Tag”, formerly known as the Sportsman’s National Land Trust, to the Foundation. In transferring the administration of this tag to the Foundation, the legislative intent is to focus funding efforts on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The FWC will not be the exclusive beneficiary of tag funds. A portion of the funds will be available to all eligible applicants.
The Report Florida Lionfish app is now more interactive than ever. Not only can you continue reporting your lionfish sightings and catches, your reports and photographs are documented on an interactive map. The map includes your important data such as where you found your catch, the date caught, how many you saw or removed and what type of gear you used.
The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 15 in Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, and will remain closed through Jan. 31, 2015, reopening to harvest Feb. 1. Snook can be caught and released during the closed season.