By Capt. David Lifka
Once upon a time, not too many decades ago, fishing in Florida was much simpler. If you had a rod and reel and fished freshwater, you needed a license, and for saltwater you needed nothing. Size and quantities, regardless of species, were very limited. But over the years, as the demands on fishing have steadily increased, so have the regulations and licenses needed to help ensure a legal and trouble-free fishing trip.
In most cases, both fresh and saltwater licenses are required for anyone aged 16 – 64 to be able to fish in Florida. In addition, certain species require an additional permit (fee) for harvest, such as lobster, snook, and tarpon. Florida does offer a variety of license exemptions for those with disabilities, that serve in the Armed Forces, and that receive certain types of state assistance.
Understanding Florida’s regulations can sometimes be a chore, especially if you are new to fishing in Florida. Rules may vary from county to county, region to region, Gulf Coast to Atlantic Coast, State Park to National Park and more. Did you know that state waters only extend only three nautical miles out on the Atlantic and nine nautical miles on the Gulf? Open seasons and closed seasons, sizes and quantities, can all be different within just a few miles of each other.
Twice a year the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) publishes changes to the previous six months’ fishing regulations. Paying attention to, understanding, and staying current to Florida’s Fishing Regulations has now become a vital part of any fishing adventure. Using the literature and online information that the FWC provides may help with the answers you need regarding current regulations.
The FWC’s semiannual Fishing Regulations brochure usually comes out in January and July. The vast majority of any questions that may arise regarding licenses, size and limits, seasons, and more can be found in it along with color fish identification photos. These brochures can usually be found at area bait and tackle stores. In addition to the brochure, these same rules and regulations have been included on an App. The FWC has partnered with the Fish Rules App and now provides much of the same information needed to follow fishing regulations and identification at the touch of your finger. For any other fishing information, you might need in greater detail you go to myfwc.com and you will probably find the answer.
Fishing Report: Pompano at the beach, catfish time in the river.
Whether you catch one, some or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.