A New Era For Bass Management

This is the 2016–17 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Summary.

We hope you find the articles and information helpful as you plan your fishing trips in Florida’s abundant lakes, rivers, and ponds. We want to help you and your families enjoy great fishing trips that create lasting memories.

 
This year will mark a historic period in Florida’s management of largemouth and other blackbass species. Statewide regulations for bass have been in existence since 1994 while the number of lakes managed under special regulations has increased. As part of the FWC’s Black BassManagement Plan (bit.ly/BlackBassPlan), FWC biologists worked for over two years to listen to angler opinions, evaluate bass populations statewide, and develop a proposal that will simplifyall bass regulations, meet angler desires, and ensure that Florida continues to produce trophy bass into the future (see page 16 for details on New Bass Regulations).

 
This guide is also filled with useful fishing tips from the pros, suggestions on where to go fishing, information about health concerns of eating fish, fishing camps for children and families, and Florida’s Angler Recognition Programs. Our TrophyCatch Program has entered its fourth season, rewarding anglers for catching, photo-documenting, and releasing largemouth bass weighing over eight pounds (TrophyCatchFlorida.com). We are grateful to all our anglers and partners who make TrophyCatch a successful example of citizen-science to conserve our valuable trophy bass fisheries.

 
If you are a visiting angler to Florida, welcome! More information about freshwater fishing can be found at our website (MyFWC.com/fishing/freshwater). Please contact our closest Regional Office listed on page 6 to speak to one of our biologists. Great fishing is always close by in Florida, all you need to do is enjoy!

 
Statewide black bass rules have been changed. The new statewide bag and length limits for black bass are: 5 Black bass (including largemouth, Suwannee, spotted, Choctaw, and shoal bass, individually or in total), only one of which may be 16 inches or longer in total length. There is no statewide minimum length limit for largemouth bass. Regulations for black bass species including Suwannee, shoal, spotted, and Choctaw bass have been changed.
No person shall kill or possess any Suwannee, shoal, spotted, or Choctaw bass
that is less than 12 inches in total length.

Shoal Bass Conservation Zone:
Chipola River: No person shall kill or possess any shoal bass in the section between Peacock Bridge and Johnny Boy Landing.

Daily Bag Limit for Black Bass: All species
(largemouth, Choctaw, shoal, Suwannee,
and spotted) are included in the five fish daily
aggregate black bass bag limit. This is the same
as the previous statewide rule.
Largemouth bass: Only one may be 16 inches
or longer in total length per angler per day,
with no minimum length limit.
Suwannee, shoal, Choctaw, and spotted
basses: 12-inch minimum size limit, only one
may be 16 inches or longer in total length.
Shoal Bass Conservation Zone: In the Chipola
River between Peacock Bridge (County
Road 278) and Johnny Boy Landing shoal bass
must be released immediately. This is a catchand-
release conservation zone for shoal bass to
further protect this relatively rare species that
depends on a limited area of unique habitat.

 
Tournament Fishing: The bass-tournament
permit program will continue to allow anglers
participating in permitted tournaments temporary
possession of five bass of any size.
This program has been ongoing for over 20
years and allows delayed-release bass tournaments
to take place while ensuring the proper
care, handling and release of all bass caught
during the tournament (see details at bit.ly/
bass-tournament).

 
TrophyCatch: TrophyCatch continues to
reward anglers for voluntarily releasing bass
heavier than eight pounds (see TrophyCatch-
Florida.com and page 4 for details). By
requiring documentation to verify the bass
weight, FWC biologists can use data collected
by anglers who catch, document and release
these bass, as a form of citizen science. This
information is important to determine what
conservation management programs such as
habitat restoration, vegetation management,
fish stocking, or these new regulatory controls
are most successful in improving anglers’
opportunities to catch trophy bass.

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