Fishing Capital of the World
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Related Recreation is conducted by the United States Census Bureau every five years as a way to compare outdoor recreational activities among the states. In order to assess angling, this national survey incorporates many aspects such as the economic impact of fishing, number of anglers and amount of time that is spent fishing. Based on their results, Florida is recognized as the “Fishing Capital of the World”. Surprised? Probably not.
Florida is a popular destination area because it offers great weather for year-round fishing throughout its diverse ecosystems. In fact, there are 7,700 natural lakes, 10, 550 miles of rivers and 2,276 miles of tidal shorelines in Florida that serve as important habitats for many popular sport fishes. Just during 2011, almost 3.1 million anglers, both residents and nonresidents of Florida over 16 years of age, participated in recreational fishing in these Floridian ecosystems. When compared to the rest of the states, this puts Florida in first place. Texas came in second (2.2 million anglers).
This all sounds enticing until you get into the rules and regulations part of fishing. Florida is home to over 1,000 fish species that live in freshwater, saltwater or both, and unfortunately there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach when managing these fish populations. Because of this, some fishing gears can be used to fish for some species, but not others. Some species have a size minimum while others have a slot size limit. Then we get into differences in east coast versus the west coast of Florida, management zones, seasons and bag limits. Head spinning yet? We haven’t even touched on licenses!
Don’t worry, though. The Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations magazine from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is available at the Hernando County Extension Office. This seasonal magazine, along with the freshwater version and many others, is also available online at www.eregulations.com. It is loaded with information on bag limits, size limits, licensing and other topics.
And remember while out fishing, practice safe and ethical angling. This way, together, we can help ensure that natural resources, such as angling, can be appreciated by generations to come.