The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) originally intended to close its survey regarding proposed changes in bass regulations on June 30. But it has decided to keep it up through the deliberation process and take a “data snippet” on June 30. Go here to participate in the survey.
The first change in the state’s bass length limits in 20 years would keep the creel limit at five, but allow just one of 16 inches or longer. In other words, anglers could keep smaller fish for the table.
At present, different parts of the state have 12- and 14-inch minimum length limits.
Some anglers might think that these regulations are intended to change the size structure by removing smaller bass, which would boost growth of remaining fish to trophy size. But that is not the case.
Actually, biologists want anglers to know that it’s all right to keep smaller bass, since spawning and recruitment aren’t issues for healthy fisheries in Florida.
Current minimum length limits don’t convey that message. Rather, they seem to suggest that smaller fish must be protected, but it’s okay to keep larger bass.
Yes, the proposed changes will protect larger fish and probably improve the odds for anglers to change quality and trophy bass. But that likely will occur because those fish are being “recycled” through catch and release.
“We are also continuing to pursue our TrophyCatch program and will be rolling out a new website in the near future,” said FWC’s Bob Wattendorf.
“It is a great way of incentivizing anglers to release bass heavier than eight pounds, without passing stricter laws. Meanwhile, it provides biologists valuable data for research and marketing, and engages anglers in both citizen-science and active resource stewardship.”