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Our History

Florida Sportsman Magazine is the source for the best where-to and how-to fishing information in the state, with added coverage of hunting, boating and other traditional outdoors recreation. Published continuously since 1969, each issue showcases the insights and guidance of leading experts, packaged with the work of award-winning journalists, photographers and designers. Written in an entertaining, relaxed style, Florida Sportsman feature articles and editorials reveal new ways of thinking about techniques, boats, gear and hot locales to fish.

In terms of fishery advocacy, Florida Sportsman has been the leader from its inception. Noted journalist and publisher Karl Wickstrom founded the magazine on the premise that we can both help people enjoy Florida's outdoors while at the same time making it a better place. A few of the network's achievements include:

  • Initiating and spearheading the constitutional amendment banning entanglement nets
  • Winning no-sale status for Florida red drum (redfish)
  • Leading the fight for a saltwater fishing license
  • Stopping the Cross Florida Barge Canal
  • Supporting the merger of the Florida Marine Patrol and Game and Freshwater Fish Commission
  • Waging continuous battles for responsible regulations

Click for an in-depth look at how we've gotten to where we are over the last fifty years– Florida Sportsman at Fifty: An Inside Look at Our History

Most recently the magazine continues to battle against pollution from deadly discharges made from inland to the coasts. Blair Wickstrom, a son of founder Karl Wickstrom, is fully committed to steering the conservation ship to the best possible outcomes for Florida's fishing community. (See Conservation Record for more detail)

In the 1980s Florida Sportsman began to branch out to other media to better help Florida's anglers enjoy their time on the water with a series of books, most notably Vic Dunaway's all time best-selling book Baits, Rigs & Tackle, which has sold over 500,000 copies over the course of five updates and more than three decades.

In the 1990s Florida Sportsman began the in-person live events with the Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Shows, which now are called Florida Sportsman Expos, making them shows where all outdoorsmen in the state can find seminars and products for active pursuits ranging from offshore fishing to wading and flycasting. The first show in Miami in 1992 was built around raising money for the Save Our Sealife campaign to ban gill nets in state waters. The hands-on demonstrations and buying opportunities have been the major draw for the events ever since.

Florida Sportsman went worldwide, world wide web that is, in 1995. The initial website wasn't as interactive as today's site, but being able to post fishing reports as well as magazine features was a hit with online readers from the start. It actually led to the creation of one of the most active social media platforms in fishing history, and that was in 2000, when Mark Zuckerberg was only 16 and Facebook and Google were still years away. The Florida Sportsman Fishing Forum was a phenomena that transcended even outdoorsmen. People participated on the Forum, where two dozen volunteers kept things in check, in numbers that literally blew up the servers.

In 1997 Florida Sportsman hit the air waves with six live radio shows around the state. The network had an immediate following in Jacksonville, still the flagship of the network, when FS was able to bring Capt. Rick Ryals' already popular show into the fold. Ryals has continued to lead the network with several of the hosts still working every Saturday morning to bring Floridians live reports from the water. There's nothing fresher than a live call telling the listeners about a weedline in 200 feet off the coast.

In 2004, Florida Sportsman started its first TV shows with Florida Sportsman TV and Shallow Water Angler. The shows were a hit right from the start airing both regionally on the Sunshine Network and nationally on the Outdoor Channel. The format of Florida Sportsman resembled the magazine, having different hosts highlighting the best how-to and where-to in the state. Editors Jeff Weakley and David Conway as well as Founder Karl Wickstrom and Blair Wickstrom all had features bringing the spirit and content of the magazine to the television screen.


The shows aired for seven years until the debut of the successful online show, Reel Time Florida Sportsman which began airing in 2013 with host Capt. George Gozdz taking out Forum members as guest hosts. It was a successful blend of the Florida Sportsman community and TV and was named top-rated saltwater fishing show on the Sportsman Channel. Florida Sportsman Best Boat TV debuted in 2013 and is currently airing today, helping viewers determine what is the best boat for them. A third TV show from Florida Sportsman took a successful series from the magazine, One Man's Dreamboat, and brought it to television. The show blends the format of reality TV with accounts of Florida Sportsman readers who have built highly customized "dreamboats."

Florida Sportsman continues to lead by example, by highlighting others who exemplify the Florida Sportsman Credo. People who… enjoy and respect Florida's Outdoors… including offshore fishermen, inshore and freshwater…and boaters, divers and hunters… who fight for benefits of all sportsmen…who strives to protect fish and wildlife… employs traditional and fair methods… teaches youngsters to cherish the outdoors… joins others to foster sound public policy… sees value in sharing knowledge and is willing to help others… finds a sense of adventure and finds a sense of adventure and fun on the water or in the woods. (See a roster of Florida Sportsman by clicking here, Are you a Florida Sportsman?)

Florida Sportsman is part of the Outdoor Sportsman Group, the largest media company solely devoted to bringing the best in content and entertainment to America's 80-million+ outdoor sports enthusiasts.

OSG's brands cover the spectrum of the outdoor experience – from big-game-adventure hunting to fishing for bass in backyard ponds to competing in the highest-caliber shooting sports events, our audience has come to rely on the expertise of our editors and its presentation across every media platform for the best, most entertaining, useful and relevant content.

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