2011 destined to go down as a Florida fishing extravaganza
As I See It
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Media contact: Rodney Barreto
Thus far in 2011, the stars are aligned for bass anglers and
fishing in general. Tournaments showcase record- and
near-record-breaking catches, and we're hearing from around the
state about big bass and impressive catch numbers.
On Lake Kissimmee, Tom Rewis and Doug Chance produced a
five-bass stringer totaling more than 40 pounds to win the Tony
Strickland Memorial Tournament. While on Lake Tohopekaliga, Gerald
Swindle's 80-pound, 13-ounce accumulation of 15 bass over three
days came close to setting a B.A.S.S. record.
Okeechobee produced a four-day total of 106-pounds, 10-ounces
for FLW Tournament winner Brandon McMillan - a new tour record.
Zack Mack, from Tennessee, caught a 14-pound, 2 ounce Florida
largemouth bass on Lake Kissimmee in early February.
Meanwhile, Sean Rush of Trophy Bass Expeditions said, "Rodman
Lake may be the hottest trophy bass lake anywhere right now."
He recently documented bass over 12 pounds, with two clients
catching and releasing 50 fish in a single day.
Even though evidence points to a stellar year, the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages bass-fishing
aficionados to consider catch-and-release for the long-term good of
The FWC's "Big Catch" angler-recognition program enables anglers
of all ages to submit an application for a full-color, framable
certificate and a window decal to memorialize their fishing trips.
The program allows people to submit information about memorable
catches of any of 33 species of freshwater fishes for recognition,
based on qualifying lengths or weights (see MyFWC.com/Fishing).
As part of the public input the FWC received in developing a new
Long-Term Black Bass Management Plan, one agreed-upon goal was
making Florida the undisputed bass fishing capital of the world.
That title is heavily influenced by communicating news about
outstanding fishing opportunities.
One component of the plan is a "Trophy Catch" program that
recognizes anglers who catch really large bass and provides
incentives for them to report and release their catch.
The plan isn't just about trophy fish. All aspects of fisheries
management are being reconsidered and fine-tuned to create the best
possible outcome for anglers visiting or living in Florida. Key
considerations include habitat improvement, real estate values,
improved access to increase local business opportunities, and
streamlining rules. Not lost in the plan is the essence of creating
safe and sustainable opportunities and the desire to ensure that
future generations value our natural resources and perpetuating the
The FWC is teaming with VISIT FLORIDA to promote our state as
the "Fishing Capital of the World." We are also looking at new and
exciting ways to integrate social marketing and modern technology
to help families find productive places to fish and overcoming
barriers that prevent them from reconnecting with nature.
Another great opportunity for Florida fishing communities is to
tout themselves in the World Fishing Network's "Ultimate Fishing
Town USA" competition (www.WFNFishingTown.com).
Folks can nominate their town, and people across America will vote
for the winner. The winning town receives a $25,000 grant for a
fisheries improvement project, and a half-hour television show
dedicated entirely to fishing in its community.
The World Fishing Network made Florida its own region because we
have such numerous and diverse resources. Since each of the seven
regions will have their top two vote-getters in the runoff, Florida
will have two finalists. Nominate your town now and publicize the
value of your unique fishery resources.
As Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission and an avid outdoors person who grew up around the
Everglades, I understand that the quality of fishing reflects the
quality of living. Florida's saltwater and freshwater fisheries are
world-class, thanks to great resources and responsible management.
We should be proud of all the jobs the fishing industry creates,
and we should marvel at how fishing can move you from sighs of
relaxation as you unwind, to shouts of elation as you catch another
Florida trophy, to smiles of satisfaction as you release it to
perpetuate the experience.