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Entries in Florida (222)


Florida's MarineQuest Set For Saturday In St. Petersburg

MarineQuest is the annual open house for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. This fun, free event will introduce you to Florida's unique environment, as well as current fish and wildlife research.

Click here for more information about presentations, exhibitors, directions, parking, etc.


Did Hurricanes Damage Fisheries in Texas, Florida?

Thus far, resource managers are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of powerful Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hammered east Texas and the entire Florida peninsula, as damage to fisheries seems minimal. Long-term impacts, however, particularly in the Sunshine State, could be more significant. Biologists will assess and monitor for months.

Harvey did little or no damage to bass fisheries in east Texas, including Toledo Bend, according to Todd Driscoll with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  

"Based on what we know now, it appears that Harvey effects weren’t that severe on the Sabine, Neches and Taylor systems," he explained.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

"Given all the flood-related damage, very few are fishing in these areas, but from the limited reports I’ve heard the local anglers are catching fish. There have been no reports of any fish kills due to Harvey.          

"Historically, saltwater intrusion from hurricane-related surge is what has wreaked havoc on the fish populations in these systems," he added. "With Harvey, these systems escaped the saltwater surge. It seems that the historic flooding did not significantly affect the bass populations, but we will know more later this fall after our electrofishing survey, and when local anglers get back on the water."

In Florida, meanwhile, fish died on both the Withlacoochee and St. Johns Rivers, kills not unexpected – or catastrophic – considering the vulnerability of those systems. Minor die-offs continue to be reported elsewhere as well.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

Read my full story about this at Under the Nation tab, click on Conservation.


Bassmaster Telethon to Aid Fish and Game First Responders in Florida, Texas

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission employees rescue Florida flood victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Some of the state employees also suffered tremendous losses in the storm.

Game wardens, fisheries biologists and other personnel in the fish and game departments of Texas and Florida were among the first responders in the back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes that slammed those two states.
After those heroes worked tirelessly to rescue people from flooded and storm-ravaged homes, many of them returned from duty to find their own homes severely damaged or destroyed.
In response to their losses and in recognition of their sacrifices, B.A.S.S. is launching a fundraising campaign through its innovative Bassmaster LIVE broadcasts from the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship this week at Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota.
The first-ever Bassmaster LIVE “telethon” will take place during coverage of the year-end championship, which will crown the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year and determine berths in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
More than 100,000 fishing fans will tune in for the LIVE shows, which are streamed on this week and WatchESPN from 8-11 a.m. and 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
“In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the needs are so great they’re mind-boggling,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO.

“We want to do whatever we can to help, and we also want to be confident that these funds go directly to the people who need it most. That’s why we’re proud to partner with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida to directly benefit the men and women of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”

 The two foundations are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing private funding to help their respective conservation agencies protect and improve fish and wildlife resources.
“Knowing that things like this would happen, we set up a fund sometime back to provide emergency relief for our fish and wildlife workers,” said Andy Walker, president and CEO of the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. “That fund was exhausted in the first 48 hours.”
Because of the nature of their jobs, a disproportionate number of Florida fish and wildlife employees live and work in coastal areas — especially the Florida Keys — that received the brunt of Irma’s fury, he said.
Anne Brown, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, added that numerous parks and wildlife employees also reside in coastal areas hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, and more than 100 have been displaced due to damage or loss of their homes. The foundation has raised and distributed about $250,000 for the relief effort so far.
During the LIVE broadcasts, hosts Tommy Sanders and Davy Hite will interview Elite anglers and B.A.S.S. Nation members from Texas and Florida, including some who used their own boats to rescue people stranded in the floods. Officials in both states have commended fishermen and hunters for their quick response and credited them for saving numerous lives.
Walker noted that 150 wildlife and fisheries workers from Florida worked “around the clock” in Texas to help rescue people there, and more than 350 Texas Parks and Wildlife employees reciprocated by converging on Florida this week to help in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Akin also pointed out that a number of B.A.S.S. sponsors have been active in relief efforts. Yamaha and G3 provided boats to be used in the Houston rescue operation, as did Tracker dealers in the area.
And Toyota is working with the St. Bernard Project (SBP) — an initiative launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana — with a long-term view of recovery.
“In this spirit, we spent $1 million to establish our long-time partner, the St Bernard Project, in southeast Texas,” said Mike Goss, president of Toyota USA Foundation. “They are helping people mitigate mold and avoid contractor fraud, and they help the uninsured navigate government funding. Eventually, SBP will rebuild homes for residents who cannot afford it on their own.
“Often this entire process takes many years in the wake of a huge disaster, so Toyota wants to help make full recovery go faster.”
Fans who tune in to the Bassmaster LIVE shows beginning Thursday will be given directions on how they can donate to the relief efforts.
Those who want to help fish and wildlife personnel in Florida can contribute to a fund set up by the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida.

The Texas foundation has set up two funds: the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Employee Relief Fund
and the Restoration of Natural Resources Fund.


Trik Fish Introduces Fluorocarbon For Flipping, Pitching

Stealth fishing just got stealthier with new Flippin'/Pitchin' Fluorocarbon line by Trik Fish, a company in Clermont, Fla., owned by my good friend Dave Burkhardt.

 Just introduced at the ICAST show in Orlando, the new line is tough enough to fish in the heaviest cover, yet, unlike braid, it "disappears" in the water. That makes it especially effective on bright days, in clear water, or when bass have lockjaw.

"I like to use the 20- or 25-pound test when I have to fish slower and they are looking at the bait longer," said Florida tournament angler Uby Rosell. "Bass are more likely to see the braid than the fluorocarbon."

Additionally, fluorocarbon keeps baits in the strike zone longer. Because it is more dense, it sinks faster than monofilament and copolymers, but not as fast as braid, allowing the bait a slower and more natural fall. That's another plus when the bite is tough.

Also available in 15-pound test, this is the first fluorocarbon packaged specifically for bass anglers who flip and pitch cover. "It's on 150-yard spools so this German-engineered line is perfect for the bass guy with low-profile reels," said Burkhardt.

Rosell added that he uses the 15 for flipping and pitching to grass edges with a smaller bait. "Also, I'm a co-angler," he said. "While the guys up front are using braid, I'm using fluorocarbon to get the bites they miss, especially when the fish are sensitive."

FLW pro Troy Gibson especially likes the 15-pound line. "I really am pleased with the minimum stretch that is delivered by Trik Fish and the super stealth that this line provides," he said.

" I cannot say enough about this line and will not use anything else when the money is on the line."  

Besides minimum stretch, Trik Fish Flippin'/Pitchin' Fluorocarbon doesn't absorb water, meaning it won't lose strength when wet. It is extremely UV resistant. Plus it has great knot strength and is highly abrasion-resistant with virtually no memory.

Finally, braid, no matter its color,  has a distinct visual presence, meaning fish can see it in even the dingiest of waters. On the other hand, Trik Fish Flippin'/Pitchin' Fluorocarbon refracts light nearly the same as water, meaning it disappears. That translates into more takes, especially when the bite is tough.  

"More and more of the pros are rigging with Trik Fish Fippin'/Pitchin' Fluorocarbon to get more bites," said Burkhardt.

(You also can check out Trik Fish on Facebook.)


More than 5,000 Lionfish Removed From Florida Waters

Already this year, more than 5,000 invasive lionfish have been removed from Florida waters as part of the annual  campaign that runs from Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day on May 20 and ends Sept. 4.

"There’s still plenty of time to compete in this year’s Lionfish Challenge," said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"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.

To find out how to participate in the challenge, go here.