Catch a Florida Memory celebrates 1-year anniversary with new partnerships, monthly raffles

Catch a Florida Memory video: https://youtu.be/h3BnYuINi5I External Website

October is a big month for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Catch a Florida Memory Saltwater Angler Recognition programs. As we celebrate one year since the official launch of the Saltwater Reel Big Fish and Saltwater Fish Life List programs, Catch a Florida Memory is excited to kick off new monthly raffles conducted by the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. We are also excited to announce our new partnership with McLean Angling.

McLean Angling, a specialist landing net manufacturer out of New Zealand, will provide high quality landing nets (valued at $125) to some of Catch a Florida Memory’s successful anglers. These unique landing nets allow anglers to both accurately weigh and measure a fish while it is still in the net, minimizing handling and time out of the water to help increase the fish’s chance of survival upon release. Additionally, the nets are knotless and rubber-coated to protect the fish’s skin, scales and slime coat, making them a great option for the conservation-minded angler. 

Several of these landing nets will be given away in the new monthly raffle, providing bonus prizes to anglers who have successfully achieved a Grand Slam, Life List Fish Club, or Saltwater Reel Big Fish. The monthly raffles take place on the third Thursday of each month, and at least two winners are drawn at a time. Prizes may include landing nets from McLean Angling, External Website fillet knives from Smith’s Consumer Products, External Website Bluefin rods and reels from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, External Website fishing gear from Live to Fish, External Website fish ink prints from the Fish Print Shop External Website and more. Each winning angler will be awarded a single prize. Winners are drawn at random from a list of all successful Catch a Florida Memory Saltwater Angler Recognition program participants since June 2013. Anglers may only win the raffle once per calendar year.

The first monthly raffle winners were announced in August and September with Gavin W. Brock (successful Shoreline Grand Slam angler) winning a McLean landing net, Sean McElmurray (Life List 10-Fish Club alum) winning a Bluefin rod and reel combo, and Jonathan Allaire (successful Inshore Grand Slam angler) and Chris Perry (Life List 10-Fish Club alum) each receiving a Smith’s fillet knife. Winners are announced via Facebook at Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory, External Website and displayed the following day on CatchaFloridaMemory.com. External Website The next monthly drawing is slated for Oct. 19; entries must be approved by Wednesday, Oct. 18 to qualify.

For more information, External Website visit CatchaFloridaMemory.com or like and follow Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory. External Website To learn more about McLean Angling’s External Website conservation-minded landing nets, visit McleanAngling.co.nz. To learn more about the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, External Website visit FishWildlifeFlorida.org.

FWC conducts Lake Istokpoga plant treatment

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plans to conduct aquatic plant treatments via helicopter on Lake Istokpoga in Highlands County on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The treatment areas will include shallow water marshes on Bumblebee Island and Big Island. About 100acres will be treated, and the project should take only one day to complete. 

The objective of this treatment is to manage emergent marsh plant communities at a low to moderate density, promoting biodiversity and providing high value marsh habitat for wildlife. These areas of the lake provide high quality foraging and nesting habitat for the endangered Everglade snail kite, wading birds, waterfowl and other marsh species.

The treatment will target stands of pickerelweed, cattail and primrose that are crowding out beneficial plant species. It will be selectively applied, leaving native plant species, such as spatterdock and other water lilies, spikerush, duck-potato and native aquatic grasses, in the areas being addressed.

The FWC contractor will treat the marshes with an herbicide approved for use in lakes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. There are no restrictions on use of lake water for fishing, swimming or drinking.

Treatment areas will be posted at boat ramps, and FWC staff will be present to ensure safety precautions are being followed. For information about this project, contact Carly Althoff at 863-697-6323.

Reminder: Goliath grouper in-person workshops scheduled in your area

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several public workshops in your area to gather public input on the management of goliath grouper, including the possibility of a limited harvest in Florida state waters.

Upcoming in-person workshops are scheduled as follows (scheduled 5 to 8 p.m. local time, except for Tallahassee):

  • Oct. 16: Pinellas Park, Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, 9501 U.S. Highway 19 N.
  • Oct. 17: Port Charlotte, The Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St.
  • Oct. 18: Naples, Collier County Public Library - South Regional, 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway.
  • Oct. 25: Tallahassee, FWC Bryant Building, Room 272 (enter on the east/Cascades Park side of the building), 620 S. Meridian St. (6-9 p.m. ET).

Previous workshops were held in Lake Worth, Key West, Marathon, Key Largo, Crystal River, Carrabelle, Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville, Titusville, Stuart and Davie.

For those who missed a workshop in their area or cannot make an in-person workshop, an on-demand virtual workshop is available at MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops” and “Workshops.”) Once you’ve viewed the workshop, you can take a workshop survey, which is identical to a survey given at the in-person workshops. Additional written comments may be submitted online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Goliath grouper in-person workshops scheduled for October; online workshops also available

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will continue gathering public input on the management of goliath grouper this month at several in-person workshops scheduled across the state. The FWC is seeking input on goliath grouper management, including the possibility of a limited harvest in Florida state waters.

A total of 16 in-person workshops will be held altogether, including workshops held previously in July and August.

 For those who missed a workshop in their area or cannot make an in-person workshop, an on-demand virtual workshop is available. This newly-added online feature can be found on the public workshops webpage at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops” and “Workshops.” Once you’ve viewed the workshop, you can take a workshop survey, which is identical to a survey given at the in-person workshops. Additional written comments may be submitted online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Upcoming in-person workshops are scheduled as follows (scheduled 5 to 8 p.m. local time, except for Tallahassee):

  • Oct. 9: Jacksonville, Pablo Creek Regional Library, 13295 Beach Blvd.
  • Oct. 10: Titusville, American Police Hall of Fame & Museum, 6350 Horizon Drive.
  • Oct. 11: Stuart, Flagler Place, 201 SW Flagler Ave.
  • Oct. 12: Davie, Old Davie School Historical Museum, 6650 Griffin Road.
  • Oct. 16: Pinellas Park, Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, 9501 U.S. Highway 19 N.
  • Oct. 17: Port Charlotte, The Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St.
  • Oct. 18: Naples, Collier County Public Library - South Regional, 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway.
  • Oct. 25: Tallahassee, FWC Bryant Building, Room 272 (enter on the east/Cascades Park side of the building), 620 S. Meridian St. (6-9 p.m. ET).

Workshops were held in July and August in Lake Worth, Key West, Marathon, Key Largo, Crystal River, Carrabelle, Pensacola and Panama City.

Share your bay scallop input with the FWC; workshops scheduled for October

This summer, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) implemented staggered season start and end dates for bay scallop harvest. The FWC needs your feedback on this staggered season structure before determining how to manage the season in the future.

The FWC will be hosting five public workshops including areas of the state where scallop harvest is allowed as well as in Pasco County, where harvest currently is not allowed. The goal of these workshops will be to gather input on the bay scallop fishery, including whether this year’s staggered season made for a more enjoyable time on the water and whether it had any economic impact on the coastal communities that depend upon this fishery. Input from these workshops will be discussed at a future Commission meeting and will help the FWC determine what the bay scallop season structure should be in future years.

Upcoming in-person workshops are scheduled as follows (scheduled 6 to 8 p.m. local time except for Port St. Joe):

  • Oct. 12: Port St. Joe, Gulf County Board of County Commissioners, Robert M. Moore Administration Building, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd. (this meeting only is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET).
  • Oct. 16: Steinhatchee, Steinhatchee Landing Resort, 219 NE Highway 51.
  • Oct. 17: Land O’ Lakes, Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, Meeting Rooms 3 & 4, 3032 Collier Parkway.
  • Oct. 18: Crystal River, City Council Chambers, 123 NW Highway 19.
  • Oct. 26: Carrabelle, Franklin County Senior Center, 201 NW Ave. F.

For updates and to learn more about these workshops, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops” and “Workshops.”

Can’t make a meeting? Written comments may be submitted online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Reminder: Gulf County bay scallop season closes Oct. 9

The Gulf County bay scallop season will remain open through Oct. 8, closing to harvest Oct. 9. Learn more about and comment on the future management of bay scallops off Gulf County and in other areas across the region at a bay scallop workshop 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET Oct. 12 in Port St. Joe at the Robert M. Moore Administration Building, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd.

After an initial season postponement due to a naturally occurring algal bloom, the 2017 season opened Sept. 23 for 16 days total. This season includes all state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

When the season is open, all other regulations apply, including a daily bag limit of 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or .5 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

The scallop population in Gulf County continues to recover from a 2015 red tide.  Restoration efforts are underway in the southeast area of the bay, south of Black’s Island. Swimming, boating, fishing or scalloping in the restoration area marked with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) buoys is prohibited.

To learn more about workshops, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops” and “Workshops.”

Can’t make a meeting? Written comments may be submitted online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

For updates and more information on bay scallops, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at svy.mk/bayscallops. External Website Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.

Learn more about long-term trends in the open and closed scalloping areas by visiting MyFWC.com/Research and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Molluscs,” “Bay Scallops” and “Season.”  

Florida’s recreational and commercial saltwater fishing industries are open for business

Looking for a fun time out on the water, or a nice locally caught fish dinner? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding residents and visitors that, despite the effects of Hurricane Irma, recreational and commercial saltwater fishing operations are reopening for business.

While charter for-hire and commercial fishing operators were hit hard by the storm, many in these industries are back up and running and ready to show residents and visitors why Florida remains the Fishing Capital of the World.

“Keep those fishing trips and vacations on the books if you can. These fishermen and women are ready to work, and need your business now more than ever,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood. “We are going to come back stronger than ever, but we need your help.”

Visit Florida CEO Ken Lawson said, “As the No. 1 industry in our state, tourism is critical to Florida’s economy, employing over 1.4 million Floridians. Fishermen, fishing captains and fishing charters are an integral part of our industry’s success as they showcase the beauties of Florida’s waters and outdoors to visitors all across the world. There is no better time than now to book a fishing trip in Florida and reel in some fun.”

FWC staff will continue to explore options on how to support our anglers and fishermen.

Book your south Florida fishing trip today. Visit the Lower Keys Guides Association at LKGA.org/Members; External Website The Florida Keys & Key West website at Fla-Keys.com, External Website or Visit Florida at VisitFlorida.com External Website for ideas.

Stone crab claw season opens Oct. 15 in state, federal waters

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCmyM7gExternal Website

How to harvest stone crab video available on the FWC’s YouTube site: http://youtu.be/YTgXTS8gLjU. External Website

Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opens Oct. 15 in state and federal waters. To ensure this valuable resource is available for generations to come, take care when removing crab claws and follow all conservation-based management guidelines for stone crab harvest.

To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2.75 inches in length when measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable portion of the claw (see illustration). View a video on how to properly remove the claw External Website on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) YouTube channel and increase the likelihood of survival of the released crab.

 SaltMeasureStoneCrab.jpg

Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing stone crabs. Egg-bearing females are identifiable by the orange or brown egg mass, also known as a “sponge,” which is visible on the underside of the crab when it is picked up or turned over.

Recreational harvesters may use up to five stone crab traps per person. Stone crabs may not be harvested with any device that can puncture, crush or injure a crab’s body. Examples of devices that can cause this kind of damage include spears and hooks. Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season, but may not be pulled from the water for harvest purposes until Oct. 15. Traps that are not being fished should be removed from the water to avoid ghost fishing, a process in which marine species get caught in the trap for extended periods of time and are not harvested.

StoneCrabTraprec.jpg
StoneCrabTrapcomm.jpg

Round entrances (also known as throats or funnels) are not allowed for stone crab traps used in state or federal waters off Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. The rectangular or rounded rectangular entrances typically used in stone crab traps in these waters must be no larger than 5.5 by 3.125 inches at the narrowest portion of the opening. Stone crab traps being used in other areas of the state may have an entrance that is 5.5 by 3.5 inches.

Harvesters are encouraged to take only one claw, even if both claws are of legal size, so that the released crab will be better able to defend itself from predators. A crab that is returned to the water with one claw intact will be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.

The season will be open through May 15, 2018, closing May 16.

Stone crab regulations are the same in state and federal waters.

For more information on harvesting stone crabs for recreation, as well as commercial stone crab regulations and licensing information, go online to MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing”).

Orange Lake management activities update presentation to be held Oct. 17

A public meeting to present an update on management activities performed at Orange Lake under last year’s work plan and to discuss the draft work plan for the upcoming year is scheduled for Oct. 17, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.

A progress report on FWC’s Habitat Management Plan will also be presented.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Alachua County Library District Headquarters, 401 E. University Ave., Gainesville.        

For information about this meeting, contact Ryan Hamm at 352-620-7341.

We encourage the public to pass along this information to anyone who may be interested in attending this meeting. The meeting location is handicap-accessible.