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Entries in Florida (156)


TrophyCatch Boasts Nearly 3,000 Entries as Season Three Ends

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  wraps up season three of TrophyCatch, nearly 3,000 trophy largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds have been caught, documented, and released in Florida.

Thanks to TrophyCatch’s corporate partners, led by Bass Pro Shops, Phoenix Boats and Experience Kissimmee, anglers  reap rewards for taking time to document and release these fish so they may be caught again, as well as help FWC learn more about enhancing and sustaining the most popular fishery in the world.

Each angler who catches a bass weighing more than 8 pounds, documents the weight, and releases it alive is eligible to earn prizes, starting with $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, a custom certificate and decal, as well as other prizes. Check out  to register, submit catches and review the rules and prizing details, which increase in value for larger bass. For most anglers, qualifying is as simple as taking a photo of the entire bass, head-to-tail, on a scale, so the weight can be seen and submitting it to the website. Tournament anglers also may participate by providing a link to official published results.

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Texas' ShareLunker Program begins 30th season

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“In season three alone, we documented more than 1,700 trophy-size bass caught and released in Florida to continue growing, spawning, and challenging anglers,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

Included were 14 Hall of Fame bass, each weighing more than 13 pounds. Each of those 14 anglers will receive a hand-painted replica of his catch (a $500 value), as well as $200 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, and other prizes.

Although all bass must have been caught between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sep. 30, 2015, to be included in the season three competition, anglers have until Oct. 15 to get their catches submitted and approved. The annual champion will then be announced and the Championship Ring, provided by the American Outdoors Fund, will be presented. The current leader is Seth Chapman, who caught, documented, and released a 15-pound, 11-ounce Florida largemouth on March 15 in Kingsley Lake, Clay County. This is the same semi-private lake in Florida that yielded the season two champion bass.

Every angler who registers, free of cost, at  is entered into an annual drawing for a $40,000 bass boat package. Phoenix boats donated a 619 Pro, powered by Mercury Marine, and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system. In addition, every time an angler has a TrophyCatch verified and approved, he or she earns 10 more chances to win the boat.

Check out Facebook to see who the finalists are for this year’s random drawing and to learn when and where the boat will be given away.

“TrophyCatch has caught on with anglers from around the state and the world,” said K.P. Clements, TrophyCatch director. “We still have trophy bass that were caught and released but not documented because anglers did not have a suitable scale or camera to verify the weight, failed to get the required photograph, or didn’t yet know about the program. But we are finding out that more and more anglers are making sure they’re ready to document and submit their catch when they land a TrophyCatch-size bass.”

All of this activity helps achieve TrophyCatch goals, which are to preserve these valuable trophy fish, learn how to enhance their abundance, and promote recreational fishing.


Dead Fish, Dry Reservoir Show What Lies Ahead for California, Florida

Thousands of fish died suddenly when Mountain Meadows, a Northern California reservoir, "ran dry overnight."

"Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight," reported CBS Sacramento.

Yes, some specific act--- possibly someone opening the dam--- drained the impoundment managed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. But in truth, Mountain Meadows and many other California fisheries have been on the inevitable path to drying up for decades because of the state's unsustainable demand for water. And it's only going to get worse.

The same thing is going to happen in Florida, where unchecked development and growth soon will outweigh that state's finite supply of freshwater.  Yes, that state is surrounded by water on three sides, but it's salt water.  The lower half of the state is arid, as is the case for California, and far too many people require far too much water. They waste much of it too. For example, millions of gallons go to water grass, which never would there naturally.

"Waterfront" property in Clermont Chain in 2013, before lakes started to refill.

In Florida, the Clermont Chain provides a prime example of what is to come for the rest of the state. Right now, this central Florida waterway is back to near normal water levels.  But until this 15-lake system started to refill in the fall of 2014, the water level sank lower and lower for years. Local officials tried to blame drought, but residents, many of whom had lost their "waterfront" property, weren't buying that.  They blamed too many diversions, both legal and illegal.

“Clermont Bait & Tackle that was here for generations is gone now,” said Dave Burkhardt, who has lived on Lake Crescent for 27 years and is owner of Trik Fish line company.

“Guides are gone and so are marinas and boat businesses. Hundreds of people who are paying taxes for waterfront property don’t have water anymore.

“And yet this is supposed to be a highly protected system (officially designated an Outstanding Florida Water).”

Adding to the insanity in the Sunshine State, Florida Defenders of the Environment and other environmental groups continue to press for destruction of Rodman Reservoir, one of the state's top bass fisheries and most diverse ecosystems, because they hate the idea that it was manmade. It also happens to be one of the few impoundments in the state that could be used for water storage.

With a year of abundant rain and some of those diversions reportedly shut off, the Clermont Lake is back to near normal. But for how long? In Florida, developers still can basically do what they want when they want, meaning they can keep building more and more houses in areas where the water supply simply cannot sustain unlimited growth.

And which reservoir in California will be the next to run dry overnight, with thousands more fish dying, because of too many people, too many cities, too many farms and too little water?


Angling Advocates Pleased With New Everglades Management Plan

Unlike at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and, more recently, at Biscayne National Park,  federal officials actually listened to and cooperated with anglers in developing a new management plan for Everglades National Park.

“It’s hard not to recognize the clear contrast between the degree to which stakeholder input was considered for Everglades National Park’s GMP (General Management Plan) compared to that of Biscayne National Park, where the recreational fishing community was resoundingly ignored,” noted Mike Leonard, Ocean Resource Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association .

“By recognizing that habitat conservation can be achieved while still allowing the public to get out on the water and enjoy our public places, Everglades National Park officials set a positive example that we hope other National Park Service (NPS) units will follow.”

The new plan  includes several changes that will affect recreational boating and fishing access and habitat conservation in the park.

“Covering much of the southern tip of mainland Florida and nearly all of Florida Bay, Everglades National Park is home to some of the best recreational fishing opportunities that Florida has to offer,” said Trip Aukeman, director of Advocacy for Coastal Conservation Association Florida.

“Given that this GMP will guide management actions for the next 20 to 30 years, it’s critically important that we get it right. Overall, we believe the GMP strikes an appropriate balance of management measures to safeguard resources while allowing for reasonable boating and fishing access.”

Everglades National Park officials have been working on the GMP update for several years. After serious concerns were raised over the draft GMP and the potential for reduced public access to the park’s waters, park officials worked closely with members of the recreational fishing and boating community to identify ways to better facilitate access while minimizing boating impacts to important habitat, namely seagrass. As a result of those discussions, many significant changes were made from the draft GMP to the final GMP.

“The recreational fishing community recognizes pole and troll zones are an important management tool to conserve shallow water habitat, but these zones must be established at a reasonable size and with access corridors to allow anglers to still reach the area,” Leonard. “In working with the recreational fishing community, Everglades National Park officials modified tens of thousands of acres of the park’s waters to better facilitate boating access, and included 29 new access corridors in the final GMP compared to the draft GMP. The level of responsiveness of Everglades National Park officials to our community’s input is reflective of how good public policy should be developed.”

One significant change that boaters in Everglades National Park will experience in the future is a mandatory boater education and boating permit system. Operators of motorboats and non-motorized boats, including paddled craft, must complete a mandatory education program to obtain a permit to operate vessels in the park.

“We are pleased to see a cooperatively developed plan that protects our natural resources as well boater access in a balanced manner,” said Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of Federal and Legal Affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “While we believe that boater education is best administered on the state level, we appreciate the collaborative work the Park has done to include stakeholders in this process and we agree that education is the best way to ensure a safe and fun day on the water."

These comments are starkly different than those that followed NPS's announcement of its plan for Biscayne, which eliminated fishing and severely restricted boating in more than 10,000 acres of the park's most popular and productive waters.

 “America’s  recreational fishing community is disheartened by the National Park Service’s decision to implement a marine reserve at Biscayne National Park,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and the delicate balance needed to ensure that anglers and boaters are able to enjoy these public waters. However, the National Park Service has shown little interest in compromise and today’s announcement confirms a lack of desire to include the needs of park users and stakeholders in important decisions such as this.”


Florida's Red Snapper Season Reopens Sept. 5

Florida's recreational red snapper season for Gulf state waters reopens to harvest Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7, and will continue to be open for Saturdays and Sundays in September and October with the last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1.

At its April 16 meeting in Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a 70-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters. The 2015 season started the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 23) and ran through July 12. The reopening of red snapper season for Labor Day weekend and weekends in September and October will give anglers additional fishing opportunities in the fall.

Red snapper is a popular species that has a strong economic impact for many coastal communities throughout Florida. State waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end out to about 200 nautical miles.

Anglers targeting red snapper from a private boat (excluding Monroe County) need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey prior to fishing. Sign up at a local retail store, tackle shop or tax collector’s office; by calling 1-888-FISHFLORIDA(347-4356); or online at

For more information on Gulf red snapper, visit and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.” Learn more about the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, including how to sign up, by visiting and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”


World-Class Suwanee Bass on Display in Florida

If it's not already, a world record Suwannee bass soon will be swimming in the 9,200-gallon aquarium at Bass Pro Shops in Tallahassee, Fla. It was just two ounces shy of the record when released there this sumemr, after being caught in the Ochlockonee Rivery by Ferrol "Roscoe" Holley, Jr.

After catching the fish on June 26, Holley contacted Andy Strickland, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), who immediately went to meet him. The 3.75-pound bass was weighed on a certified scale and measured 16.5 inches long. The state and world record is 3.89 pounds, caught by Ronnie Everett in 1985 on the Suwannee River in Gilchrist County.

Give it a few good meals in the Bass Pro Shops’ aquarium and customers should soon be watching a world-record feed at noon each Tuesday/Thursday and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

First, Brian Claborn, Bass Pro Shops’ aquarist, treated the bass to ensure it was healthy and held it in quarantine. Once it was given a clean bill of health, Claborn and Strickland arranged for Holley and his family to come to the store and release the bass into the aquarium. Strickland also presented Holley with a “Big Catch” certificate.

Big Catch is the FWC’s oldest angler-recognition program, which traces its history to 1953 when a “fishing citation” program was run by Florida Wildlife Magazine (now the free online The actual Big Catch Angler Recognition Program began in 1990, and since then thousands of anglers have enjoyed having their catches recognized.

Anglers can register for free at to submit their catch or view other anglers’ catches. A customized certificate is rewarded to any angler who legally catches and photographs one of 33 popular Florida freshwater fish species that exceeds the qualifying length or weight. The program includes categories for specialists (five qualifying fish of the same species), masters (five qualifying fish of different species) and elite anglers (10 qualifying fish of different species). In addition, a youth category makes this a family-friendly way to get kids involved.

The final Big Catch category includes the freshwater grand slams. A Bass Slam includes catching a largemouth, spotted, shoal and Suwannee bass in the same year. A Bream Slam is awarded for catching any four of bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, warmouth, redbreast sunfish or flier in one day, and an Exotic Slam requires catching a butterfly peacock, Mayan cichlid and oscar in one day. These programs help encourage anglers to try new species, locations and techniques, and provide fun family challenges.

Holley’s near-world-record Suwannee bass is in the same group of black basses as largemouth bass, shoal bass, spotted bass and the newly-identified Choctaw bass. With the exception of the largemouth, these other basses are all primarily riverine and within Florida are only located in the panhandle and tributaries of the Suwannee River. The FWC is proposing new rules to continue to protect all of these species (see and click on “Speak out on bass rules” to learn more and comment.)