FL Fish & Wildlife Commission Fishing Report

FWCThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission work to protect, safe and preserve Florida fish. The FL fishing photos and the latest Florida Fishing News is presented as a public service from Naples Marco Living. Thank you for supporting the fising and wildlife conservation efforts of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Contact us for information about featuring your businessin Naples Marco Living.

  • Lake Trafford restoration yields great bass fishing
    Lake Trafford restoration yields great bass fishing -

    Immokalee area lake restoration leads to production of trophy-sized bass

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has confirmed a 10-pound, 7-ounce largemouth bass was caught on Lake Trafford and approved in the TrophyCatch program. Lake Trafford, in Collier County, has received national recognition for its resurging bass fishing made possible by ongoing restoration projects.

    The nearly 26-inch-long largemouth bass was caught by Steve Dial on an artificial lure on June 25. This is the first Trophy Club submission from Lake Trafford into TrophyCatchExternal Website FWC’s award-winning catch, document and release program. 

    While reports of trophy-sized bass catches are less common during the summer, this fish is no fluke. Recent FWC sampling has documented excellent growth rates for abundant bass in Lake Trafford. 

    “With trophy bass reported more frequently around the spawning season, I’m really excited for what the coming season may produce,” said Barron Moody, FWC regional fisheries administrator. “We can also confirm the presence of an even larger bass in the lake – our biologists tagged and released a bass weighing more than 11 pounds during routine sampling as part of our trophy bass tagging study.”

    Highlighted in Bassmaster Magazine External Website in August 2016, 1,500-acre Lake Trafford’s history of devastating fish kills and unhealthy habitat is no more. It can now boast of quality populations of black crappie and largemouth bass – all thanks to a partnership between the determined citizens of Collier County, the South Florida Water Management District – Big Cypress Basin, the FWC and others.

    For more information, email Barron Moody at Barron.Moody@MyFWC.com.

  • Drawdown for Karick Lake Fish Management Area supports bass conservation and habitat management
    Drawdown for Karick Lake Fish Management Area supports bass conservation and habitat management -

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is partnering with the Florida Forest Service and Aquatic Habitat Restoration/Enhancement Section to conduct a full renovation of Karick Lake Fish Management Area in Okaloosa County. The agency began releasing water July 13 for a complete drawdown.

    This renovation is to improve fish habitat and balance the largemouth bass population. A full drawdown will allow for the aeration and consolidation of organic muck deposits that result from the natural aging of reservoirs, thus improving fish habitat and natural production for fish food organisms.

    While the lake is down, structural habitat will be installed in the lake bed and maintenance will be performed on the dam and water control structure. Once water has been returned to the lake, it will be re-stocked to provide a balanced fish community.

    Fishing will be permitted while water is being drained from the lake, however access to the lake bed is prohibited. Unstable substrate exposed as the lake drains presents a hazard to individuals attempting to traverse it. Vehicles are not permitted on the dam or fishing fingers.

    For the duration of the project, campgrounds and hiking trails surrounding the lake will remain open to the public. Hurricane and Bear lakes are both located on the Blackwater River State Forest and provide ample fishing opportunities within easy travelling distances from the Karick Lake campgrounds.

    For more information about this project, email Neil Branson at Neil.Branson@MyFWC.com.  

  • Gulf County scallop season postponed due to naturally occurring algae bloom
    Gulf County scallop season postponed due to naturally occurring algae bloom -

    As a precautionary measure due to a naturally occurring algae bloom in St. Joseph Bay that affects shellfish, the bay scallop harvest originally scheduled to begin on July 25th in Gulf County waters will be temporarily postponed. This postponement includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County. This does not impact other areas currently open for a recreational harvest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working closely with partners on this postponement including the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), which has also issued a precautionary closure for the harvest of clams, mussels and oysters in St. Joseph Bay. 

    FWC staff is coordinating with the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and FDACS and they will continue to provide support and assistance as necessary.  All agencies take all algal blooms seriously and will continue to respond quickly and effectively to ensure the health and safety of Floridians, visitors and our natural resources.

    The scallop season is expected to be closed a minimum of two weeks. The FWC will conduct aggressive outreach efforts about the postponed season. The FWC and FDACS will continue sampling and testing scallops and other shellfish in the bay to determine when they are safe for consumption and will continue to work with the local community to determine options on the remainder of the season. More information will be issued once a season opening date has been determined and that date will be posted on the bay scallop page which can be found at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.” Reopenings of clam, mussel or oyster harvest will be listed on the FDACS website at http://shellfish.floridaaquaculture.com/seas/seas_centralgulf.htm.

    In areas outside of Gulf County, the bay scallop season in state waters from the Fenholloway River in Taylor County to the Suwannee River in Dixie County is currently open to harvest and will close to harvest on Sept. 10. All other waters open to harvest (Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River and from the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County) will close to harvest Sept. 25 (see map below).

    This algae bloom does not harm scallops directly and shouldn’t cause scallop population declines. While scallops may appear healthy, they should not be consumed until FWC has issued a new statement opening the season. This algae bloom should not impact other recreational activities on St. Joseph bay. 

    2017 Regional Bay Scallop Seasons


    Pseudo-nitzschia Adobe PDF is a naturally occurring microscopic alga that in some cases can produce domoic acid, which can negatively impact marine mammals and seabirds and can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in humans if contaminated shellfish are consumed. Domoic acid has been confirmed in seawater and scallop samples from St. Joseph Bay. Domoic acid does not impact finfish, but they should be carefully cleaned prior to being eaten. The best way to protect yourself is to heed closure warnings and not consume shellfish in the closed areas.

    If you are experiencing symptoms of ASP, contact your primary care provider. You may also want to contact the Florida Poison Control Hotline – 1-800-222-1222. For Department of Health questions, please call 850-245-4250.







  • More than 5,000 lionfish removed so far in Lionfish Challenge 2017
    More than 5,000 lionfish removed so far in Lionfish Challenge 2017 -

    Interested in removing lionfish? There’s still plenty of time to compete in this year’s Lionfish Challenge, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) statewide removal incentive program. The program started on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, May 20, and ends Sept. 4. Over 5,000 lionfish have been removed from Florida waters thanks to the program, including nearly 3,700 recreational fish removals and more than 1,200 pounds commercially (equates to about 1,400 fish).

    The challenge rewards lionfish harvesters with prizes such as T-shirts, tumblers, heat packs for stings, pole spears, an extra spiny lobster per day during the two-day sport season, and much more. It only takes 25 lionfish (or 25 pounds commercially) to qualify for the program and the more lionfish you enter, the more prizes you will receive. Plus, all participants are entered into a raffle to win even more prizes such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium gift bags, ZombieStickz pole spears and customized ZooKeeper Lionfish Containment Units.  

    The persons with the most lionfish at the end of the competition will be crowned the Lionfish King or Queen (recreational category) and the Commercial Champion at the Lionfish Safari tournament in St. Petersburg the weekend of Sept. 9.

    Think you have what it takes to be crowned the next Lionfish King/Queen or Commercial Champion? Sign up and learn more today by visiting MyFWC.com/Lionfish.





    Photos (Flickr): http://bit.ly/2usiJsJ  

  • Bully netting best practices for harvesters and homeowners
    Bully netting best practices for harvesters and homeowners -

    Spiny lobster season is gearing up, and it is not just for divers. Harvesting lobster at night with the use of bully nets and lights is legal and fun, and is popular in the Florida Keys and portions of Miami-Dade County.

    By being courteous and respectful of each other, bully netters, homeowners and other members of the public can work together to ensure the season (July 26-27 for the two-day sport season and Aug. 6-March 31, 2018, regular season) is safe and fun. Check out the list of best practices below to learn more about how to make the most of this year’s spiny lobster season.

    • While bully netting is a legal method of harvest, bright lights and loud noise on the water late at night can be disruptive to others such as adjacent homeowners and renters.
    • Bully netters should try to keep lights directed down and avoid shining lights at houses along the shoreline.
    • Sound travels long distances over water; sound levels should be minimized when near shoreline residences.
    • Bully netters have the right to fish. Report any actions taken to prevent you from legally fishing to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
    • Remember, homeowners are concerned about protecting their homes, families and property and may be suspicious of noise and lights near their property.
    • While bully netting may take place close to private property, trespassing on private property is illegal.
    • Fishers should not go onto private property including, but not limited to, private seawalls, docks and boats.
    • If you experience a problem or see a resource violation, don’t take matters into your own hands. Call the Wildlife Alert Hotline (888-404-3922) for assistance.

    If you would like postcards with these best practices on them, email your request to Marine@MyFWC.com. Make sure to include in your email your name, mailing address, and the number of postcards you want mailed to you.

    For recreational spiny lobster fishing regulations, including how to measure spiny lobster, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

  • FWC partners with Bienville Plantation to conduct bass tournament research
    FWC partners with Bienville Plantation to conduct bass tournament research -

    Pro anglers and industry stakeholders fished at a simulated tournament to assist in research initiatives.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) partnered with the Bienville Plantation to host two simulated bass fishing tournaments to assist with an ongoing research initiative studying water quality in boat livewells during summer bass tournaments.

    bienville anglers

    Participating anglers fishing at Bienville Plantation.

    Bass caught during fishing tournaments are temporarily held in an angler’s boat livewell until time for the tournament weigh-in. Livewells are holding tanks in a boat that contain aerated water to keep bass healthy until they are released. There are many different livewell settings and management styles, so the FWC designed a research study to determine which combination of livewell settings and management styles provide the best water quality to keep the bass healthy prior to their release.

    Bienville bass weigh in

    Participating anglers bringing in their bass for the weigh-in.

    This tournament was the second of eight events that will contribute to this research initiative. Six additional events will be hosted at other sites throughout the state. This event took place on a 1,300-acre Bienville freshwater lake previously used for phosphate mining, so the lake varied in depth, water clarity, cover and structure. Twenty-two anglers participated in the event on 11 boats, each fishing for a five-fish limit. The largest bass caught weighed 7.3 pounds and the winning total weight was 18.66 pounds.

    Fishing League Worldwide pro anglers Braxton Setzer and Joshua Weaver donated their time and talent to the study, along with anglers representing Bienville Plantation, Yo-Zuri, Shimano, Pitman Creek and the American Sportfishing Association.

    Johnson and Dotson at simulated tournament

    Jimmy Johnson with the Bienville Plantation (left) and FWC Freshwater Fisheries Research section leader Jason Dotson at the simulated tournaments.

    Bienville Plantation is one of America’s most renowned hunting and fishing operations, catering to individuals as well as families and corporations. Located in White Springs, it offers activities such as quail hunting, guided bass fishing, duck hunting, alligator hunting, skeet, trap, 5-stand, fine dining and well-appointed lodging. For more information, visit Bienville.com. External Website

    For more information about this research initiative, email Amber Nabors at Amber.Nabors@MyFWC.com.

  • Time to get crackin’; spiny lobster seasons start soon
    Time to get crackin’; spiny lobster seasons start soon -

    The 2017 spiny lobster season opens with the two-day recreational sport season July 26 and 27, followed by the regular commercial and recreational lobster season, which starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31, 2018.

    Planning on catching some of these tasty crustaceans? Here is what you need to know before you go.

    Where to harvest

    Know where you can go. Lobster harvest is always prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. During the two-day season, all harvest of lobster is prohibited throughout John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations,” “Lobster” and “Regulations for Recreational Harvest and Lobster Information for Monroe County” to learn more about areas in Monroe County External Website that are open to spiny lobster harvest.

    Bag limits

    Stick to the bag and possession limits so there will be enough lobsters for all your friends and family. During the two-day spiny lobster sport season, recreational harvesters can take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park waters or 12 lobsters per person daily in other Florida waters. You may possess no more than the daily bag limit of lobsters when you are on the water. When you are off the water, you may possess no more than the daily bag limit on the first day of the sport season and no more than double the daily bag limit on the second day. See the chart below for an easy-to-read guide on the two-day sport season bag limits. During the Aug. 6 to March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person for all Florida waters.

    Two-day Sport Season



    Daily bag limit and max number you can possess while on the water either day

    Max number you can possess off the water on July 26

    Max number you can possess off the water on July 27

    Monroe County and Biscayne National Park









    Size limit

    No one wants a small lobster for dinner, and recently approved legislation specifies that each undersize spiny lobster found in a violator’s possession may be charged as a separate offense. In addition, recreational or commercial violators with 100 or more undersized spiny lobsters are to be charged with a third-degree felony. Remember to always check the size of lobster you catch. If the carapace length is not larger than 3 inches, it may not be harvested (see image on how to measure spiny lobster). For divers, measuring devices are required and lobsters must be measured while they are in the water.

    Measure Lobster


    To protect the next generation and your future chances to have lobster for dinner, harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Egg-bearing lobsters have hundreds of thousands of eggs that are easily visible and attached under the tail. While most lobsters have completed reproduction by the start of the fishing season, finding lobsters with eggs is common in July and August.

    Nighttime harvest and bully netting

    While the waters may be less crowded at night, diving for spiny lobsters after the sun goes down is not allowed in Monroe County during the two-day sport season.

    Bully netting, however, is allowed at night, and is a popular method of harvest. Keep in mind, bright lights and loud noise on the water late at night can be disruptive. Keep lights directed down and avoid shining lights at houses along the shoreline. Keep sound levels low when near shoreline residences. Bully netters have a right to fish, but should be courteous of others by minimizing disruptions and not trespassing on private property.

    Whole condition

    Bring a cooler big enough to hold the entire lobster. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Also, do not take spiny lobster with any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush its shell.

    Licenses and permits

    Make sure to have the proper paperwork. A recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are required to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License or you may purchase your license today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. External Website

    Invasive lionfish

    Do double duty while you are in the water and remove invasive lionfish. These nonnative species are often found in the same areas as spiny lobster, and they negatively impact Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. Help keep the lionfish population under control by removing them from Florida waters. If you plan to take lionfish with a spear, be aware of no-spearing zones before planning your spearfishing trips. Learn more about spearing rules by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Spearing” or “Monroe County Spearfishing.” Visit MyFWC.com/Lionfish to learn more or to participate in the Lionfish Challenge reward program.

    Diving safely

    Always remember: Safety first. Divers, even those who wade in, should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down warning device (red with a white diagonal stripe on a flag or buoy, for example) when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down warning device if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed if they need to travel within 300 feet of a divers-down warning device in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel.

    Divers-down warning symbols displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches. If you are using a flag, a stiffener is required to keep it unfurled, it must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel, must be visible from all directions and must be displayed only when divers are in the water. So when the divers are out of the water, don’t forget to take it down. Divers-down symbols towed by divers must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down warning devices is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”


    Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

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