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Fish Busters' Bulletin for April 2013, written by Bob Wattendorf highlighting freshwater fishing opportunities in spring throughout Florida
Fish Busters' Bulletin for April 2013, written by Bob Wattendorf highlighting freshwater fishing opportunities in spring throughout Florida

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Florida Fish Busters’ Bulletin April 2013
 April brings great fishing before the May flowers
By Bob Wattendorf 
 April showers bring May flowers, but in Florida there is already anabundance of blooms and a great bonanza of freshwater fishing opportunities thatbegan earlier this spring. All across the state, anglers have reported great catches of a wide variety of freshwater fish. Innumberable anglers enjoy targeting sunfishesthat move into the shallows to spawn this time of year.Typically, black crappie (specks),redbreast sunfish and largemouth bass (thelargest sunfish) begin spawning whenwater temperatures get over about 62 F.Crappie will stop spawning before bass,which continue to work the beds until itwarms up to about 75 degrees. They arefollowed by redear sunfish (70-80 F) andbluegill (75-85 F). There is quite a bit of research and angler lore that say the fishkey their peak activity to a few days before and after the full and new moons duringspring. April is a favorite time of year for freshwater anglers, not only because fishcongregating in the shallows provides great catch rates with lots of quality-size fish,
Louie Echols with a huge bluegill that not onlyqualified for a Big Catch certificate but helped himto become Florida’s youngest elite angler(documenting Big Catch submissions from tendifferent species). Photo by Dan Echols.
but also because temperatures tend to be comfortable for an outdoor expedition. Another reason is that the first Saturday in April each year (April 6, this year) is alicense-free freshwater fishing day across the state. People are exempt from havinga license that day, so it is a great opportunity to reach out to people who don’t havea freshwater fishing license and show them how much fun a day on the water canbe. Or, perhaps you have children who have been bugging you to go, and youhaven’t wanted to buy a license to accompany them. Now is your chance.Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater FisheriesManagement, points out that dedicated saltwater anglers may want to take thisopportunity to see what they are missing a little closer to home. Freshwater anglingprovides a chance to expand fishing skills without having to travel far, as everybodylives near freshwater sites.Florida has 7,700 named lakes and 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streamsand canals, so nearly everyone is within 30 to 45 minutes of a fishing hole. If youwant some help finding a location or seek fishing tips and seasonal fishing forecasts,check out MyFWC.com/Fishing (under “Freshwater Fishing,” choose “Sites & Forecasts”). Quarterly forecasts by fisheries biologists are supplemented with linksto local bait-and-tackle shops, marinas or guides, for even more timely updates.Florida’s Big Catch Angler Recognition Program provides an opportunity foranglers to commemorate their memorable freshwater catches with a certificate andhaving their photo posted online. Thirty-three different species are included in theprogram, and all it takes to participate is a photo of a fish that exceeds either a
specified length or weight. It’s a great incentive for youth, who can qualify bycatching fish that are roughly 25 percent smaller than the qualifying measures foradult anglers. Visit MyFWC.com/BigCatch for more details and to enroll.However, the ultimate challenge isthe race for the biggest trophy bass of theyear. Florida’s fame as a bass fishingdestination lies in an abundance of lakesand rivers that consistently producetrophy-size bass. To document locationsand frequency of bass catches over eightpounds, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launchedTrophyCatch(TrophyCatchFlorida.com)in October with the support of more than 20 industry partners. The goal is to enhance and sustain trophy bass fisheries andto promote Florida as the Bass Fishing Capital of the World, based on documentedcatches.To participate, catches must be verified by FWC for the angler to earnawards. For Lunker Club (8 to 9.9-pounds) and Trophy Club (10 to12.9-pounds),verification requires photos of the entire bass clearly showing its length and weight,and then the bass must be released. Photos are submitted via the website. For Hallof Fame bass, which earn for the angler a free replica valued at $500 and anadditional $500 in other prizes, the fish must be caught before the end of April andweighed on certified scales by an FWC representative. If you catch one, keep it alive
 Bob Williams shows off the first Hall of Fame Basscertified by the TrophyCatch Program. The 13 lb, 14 oz bass was caught, weighed on certified scales andreleased back in Rodman Reservoir after taking ain clip for genetic sampling. Photo by Sean Rush.

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