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Entries in FWC (64)

Friday
Jun092017

Volunteer Anglers Needed for FWC Barotrauma Tool Study

Do you fish for reef fish like snapper or grouper?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking volunteer anglers and charter/headboat captains to take part in a descending-device citizen science study. Descending devices are tools used to recompress the swim bladder and increase a fish’s chance of survival when it cannot be kept and is experiencing barotrauma (swim bladder expansion when a fish is brought up from depths greater than 50 feet). Signs of barotrauma include the stomach coming out of the mouth, bulging eyes, bloated belly and distended intestines.

As a citizen science partner, you will test a descending device and help identify the benefits and drawbacks of using this tool when fishing in deeper waters. The information from all participants will be pooled to identify why some anglers might not use these tools. Your valuable feedback will be used to inform and improve efforts to increase the survival of caught and released reef fish.

To participate, prospective participants must first answer general screening questions. Randomly-selected participants will then watch a tutorial on descending devices, complete an initial evaluation, and test a descending device during the trial period from July 1 through Sept. 30. When the trial period ends, participants must complete a detailed post-evaluation about their experience by Oct. 15. Preliminary results of the evaluation will be available in late 2017.

To apply for an opportunity to participate in this study, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/XK55MJV.  To learn more about barotrauma, visit YouTube channel at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterFishing.  For additional information, call 850-487-0554 or email Marine@MyFWC.com.

Wednesday
May242017

Opening of Florida's Newest Fishery Behind Schedule

2011 construction of Fellsmere. Photo by Treasure Coast NewspapersFlorida's newest bass fishery didn't open to the public as expected this past spring, and when 10,000-acre Fellsmere Water Management Area will be accessible remains uncertain. That's because the ramp's location and rules about public access remain undetermined.

"We are evaluating three sites at this time on district property and continue to consider one location on the Fellsmere Joint Venture property," said Ed Garland, spokesman for the St. Johns Water Management District.

"However, the district is committed to choosing a location that will offer public access. The district continues to hear from the public on this issue at regularly scheduled southern recreation meetings and additionally will hear from the public at a governing board meeting before any plan is final."

East of Stick Marsh-Farm 13, a renowned 6,000-acre bass fishery, Fellsmere was transformed from agricultural lands once owned by Sun-Ag Inc. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enhanced the marshy area with 2,000 acres of prime fish habitat and spent about $1.4 million on stocking it with bass and bluegill.

In addition to providing bass fishing that should rival its neighbor, Fellsmere also will filter discharges from surrounding farms, reducing the need for discharges into Indian River Lagoon. It's the final piece of the district's upper basin project to restore a more natural flow to the river, lost decades ago when wetlands were drained for agriculture.

The draft recreation plan for the area says that Fellsmere will included a two-lane boat ramp with 24 vehicle/trailer parking spaces, 12 regular parking spaces, restrooms, a boarding dock, and picnic shelters. An overflow parking area will help accommodate small tournaments.

And as the site of the ramp remains undetermined, FWC and the district still are considering what regulations to impose. Options include making the Fellsmere catch-and-release only and prohibiting harvest for five years to establish a quality fishery.

Friday
May192017

Lionfish Hunters Wanted!

Attention all lionfish hunters: The 2017 Lionfish Challenge begins tomorrow, May 20, on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day. Remember to register online at MyFWC.com/Lionfish or sign up in person at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival at Plaza de Luna in Pensacola May 20-21.

The 2017 Lionfish Challenge rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters for their removal efforts with prizes and incentives. Once registered, participants email photos of their first 25 qualifying lionfish (or electronic trip tickets totaling at least 25 pounds sold for commercial harvesters) to Lionfish@MyFWC.com. Be sure to include the harvester name, the date harvested and your signature in the photo (written on a piece of paper next to the fish for example). Recreational category participants must submit any lionfish harvested in excess of the initial 25 to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)-approved checkpoint (list of locations available at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Challenge”) or FWC-sponsored lionfish tournament (FWC staff must be present to verify). Commercial participants can continue to submit trip tickets via email. All participants who have an active Saltwater Products License and have commercial lionfish sales within the past year will automatically be placed in the commercial category.

Rewards for recreational and commercial participants include:

  • A commemorative coin to validate membership.
  • An event T-shirt.
  • Lionfish Hall of Fame recognition on the MyFWC.com website.
  • If qualified before July 26, the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster per day during the 2017 sport season (July 26-27). Participants must have commemorative coin as proof of participation.

Participants may also qualify for additional prizes such as a reusable lionfish sting heat pack, customized neck gaiter, customized tumbler, and pole spear with grip kit.

The recreational and commercial harvesters who check in the most lionfish will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen and Florida’s Commercial Champion, and both will be recognized at the 2017 Lionfish Safari Sept. 10 in St. Petersburg.

Once you’ve registered, don’t forget to join the FWC in celebrating the third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (Saturday, May 20) by attending one of six statewide festivals and tournaments.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year) raises awareness about lionfish; a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on native species and habitat.

Pensacola Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament

The third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20-21 at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St., Pensacola.

This event will include celebrity chef and fillet demonstrations, lionfish tastings, family-friendly games and activities, and more than 40 art, diving and conservation vendors.

 To participate in the tournament hosted by the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, visit the Lionfish World Championship webpage at LionfishWorldChampionship.com.

 Check out the booths of our many sponsors including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Whole Foods Market, iHeartMedia, Coast Watch Alliance, Visit Pensacola, Escambia County Division of Marine Resources, Florida Sea Grant, the city of Pensacola, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, tournament host Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, Guy Harvey Magazine, SHELLArt, Dive Rite, ZooKeeper and Dive Pros.

 Statewide lionfish events

Can’t make the Pensacola festival and tournament? Find an event near you by scrolling over “Event Info” at the top of ReefRangers.com and clicking on “Statewide Events.”

  • Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach.
  • Destin Lionfish Tournament – Destin.
  • Sebastian Lionfish Fest – Sebastian.
  • REEF Lionfish Workshop and Collection – Big Pine Key.
  • Northeast Florida Lionfish Blast – Jacksonville.
  • FSDA Lionfish Calcutta –St. Petersburg.
  • FWC Exotic Pet Amnesty Day – Sanford – May 6.

Look for event updates at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Derbies and Events.”

 Questions?

Contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554. For more on FWC’s Pet Amnesty Day, or if you have an exotic pet and need help finding it a new home, visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Nonnative Species” and “Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.”

 

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Remove Snakes, Win Prizes in New Python Pickup Program 

The FWC’s Python Pickup Program is an incentive program designed to encourage the public to remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem and report locations to the FWC. Anyone can participate, and people who submit proof of python with location of removal will be entered into the monthly prize drawing as well as a grand prize drawing in 2018.

Monthly prizes include snake hooks, custom engraved Yeti tumblers, Plano sportsman’s trunks, GoPro cameras and Badlands backpacks, and the grand prize is a Florida Lifetime Sportsman’s License! 

You can submit pythons as part of the Python Pickup Program that have been removed from any property in Florida where you have authorization to do so from the land manager or land managing agency. This includes private lands, the Commission-managed lands listed below, and other public lands. On private lands, pythons can be humanely euthanized at any time with landowner permission - no permit required- and the FWC encourages people to remove pythons from private lands whenever possible.

The FWC allows pythons to be removed from 22 Commission-managed lands (listed below) without a permit except on those portions of the areas posted as “Closed to Public Access.” People may seek authorization to remove pythons from other public lands on their own.

Pythons and other nonnative reptiles may be taken without a permit or hunting license at any time throughout the year, except by use of traps or firearms (unless provided for by specific area regulations) on the following Commission-managed Wildlife Management Areas, Public Small Game Hunting Areas (SGAs) and Wildlife and Environmental Areas.  Do not enter areas posted as “Closed to Public Access.”

Friday
Apr142017

Near State Record Bass Caught in Florida

Dominic Montalto recently caught a bass just 8 ounces off the Florida record of 17-4.  Taken at a private pond in Estero, his 16-pound, 12-ounce lunker is now the heaviest catch leader for season 5 of the TrophyCatch program.

“When I first saw the fish, I thought it was a log with a volleyball under it – until it moved,” said Dominic. “Once I realized it was a big bass, I started targeting it and just kept trying until it took the bait.”

Dominic was fishing from shore around dusk, using a Johnny Morris Titanium 8 heavy-action rod with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 7.1:1 reel and a XPS Z9R Perch Swimbait lure in bluegill color.

He is 19 years old and learned to fish from his father, Joe. The Montalto family refers to themselves as a “fishing family,” noting that they made the move from Illinois to Florida a year ago and specifically selected their home based on nearby fishing ponds. Dominic  attends Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

A team of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists verified the accuracy of Dominic’s scale, catch videos and photos.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between FWC biologists, anglers and fishing industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers must submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com, showing the fish’s weight on a scale, before releasing it. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries, and to promote the catch-and-release of trophy bass.

Dominic’s trophy bass qualifies him for the TrophyCatch Hall of Fame Club, which offers rewards for catches weighing 13 pounds or heavier. Hall of Fame Club catches are celebrated at a ceremony each year and club members receive $100 gift cards to Bass Pro Shops and/or Rapala, a fiberglass replica mount from New Wave Taxidermy, a $50 SpiderWire merchandise credit code, and a Fitzgerald Rod, among other prizes. Since the beginning of Season 5 in October, 12 Hall of Fame bass have been approved.

Dominic’s catch also puts him in the lead for becoming the TrophyCatch Champion, which is awarded to the angler with the heaviest catch of the season. Anglers have until Sept. 30 to submit their catches.

Anglers are also eligible to win the TrophyCatch Grand Prize, which is awarded to the angler with the heaviest combined weight of approved catches throughout the entire season. The Grand Prize includes a Shimano prize pack of G. Loomis and Metanium combo, and a Lake County tourism prize pack of a three-day, two-night stay in Lake County with a fishing trip guided by professional angler Tim Frederick. Second prize includes a Shimano prize pack of Expride and Chronarch MGL combo. Third prize includes a Shimano prize pack of Exage and Casitas combo. 

The FWC encourages anglers to join TrophyCatch as citizen-scientists to assist in fisheries management and the conservation of Florida’s lakes and rivers. A new TrophyCatch mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email Amber Nabors at Amber.Nabors@MyFWC.com.