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FB95 Holiday License Free Days Formatted

FB95 Holiday License Free Days Formatted

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Bob Wattendorf's November 2013 Fish Busters' Bulletin deals with license-free fishing days in Florida.
Bob Wattendorf's November 2013 Fish Busters' Bulletin deals with license-free fishing days in Florida.

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Florida Fish Busters’ Bulletin November 2013
Holidays bring fishing bonuses
By: Bob Wattendorf
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and for many represents the only four-day holiday on their calendar. So what better time to offer license-free fishing days? Friday, Nov. 29, will be a license-free freshwater fishing day, which will immediately be followed by a saltwater license-free day Nov. 30. To round out the gift-giving, Saturday, Dec. 28, has also been designated as a license-free freshwater fishing day. The 2013 Florida Legislature gave the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) authority to offer four additional license-free fishing days each year. Gov. Rick Scott helped announce the four additional license-free fishing days, which now total eight each year, this past September. During the FWC’s Sept. 5 public meeting, Commissioners implemented a long-term strategy to encourage introducing new anglers to recreational fishing, and to give those who haven’t been fishing recently another incentive to enjoy time on the water. Since the dates for some of these long-term options had already passed in 2013, they also picked some one-time-only dates to make sure anglers got all the free-days the Legislature authorized. Florida’s license-free fishing days are the perfect opportunity for people to try, or introduce a friend to, some of the finest fishing in the world. Florida’s
recreational freshwater and saltwater fishing industry has an $8.9 billion economic impact and supports nearly 80,000 jobs. Events like these help grow the industry even more. These days are a great way to introduce more Floridians to the lifetime sport of fishing. Florida previously offered the public four license-free fishing days per year, where the requirement to have a recreational fishing license is waived for residents and visitors. The original saltwater license-free fishing days for 2013 were on June 1 and Sept. 1 and freshwater’s were April 6 and June 8. The additional saltwater license-free fishing days added for 2013 were Oct. 12 and Nov. 30 and additional freshwater license-free days will be Nov. 29 and Dec. 28. The Commission also set dates for 2014 and beyond. All eight days will now fall on the same weekend days from year to year, allowing potential anglers to plan fishing trips in advance and businesses and nonprofit groups to plan events around these fishing license holidays. The recurring days will be:
First Saturday and Sunday in June
First Saturday in September
Saturday following Thanksgiving
First Saturday and Sunday in April
Second Saturday and Sunday in June
To make these events accessible to as many people as possible, the FWC generally planned these dates around holiday weekends and national events, such as National Fishing and Boating Week. National Fishing and Boating Week (www.TakeMeFishing.org/NFBW) gets significant national media coverage by promoting boating and fishing across the country as fun and healthy outdoor activities. Their website is available to cross-promote local fishing or boating events as well. In addition, VISIT FLORIDA, which promotes Florida as the “Fishing Capital of the World” (www.FishingCapital.org), designates June as Fishing Month.  April is one of the best freshwater fishing months and the weather tends to be especially comfortable. It is a great time to host educational and outreach events that promote recreational fishing and conservation stewardship. Businesses with fishing ties such as outdoor retailers, fishing guides, marinas and outfitters; nonprofits that work with youth and conservation groups; and local governments promoting fishing in their local waters will all benefit. The FWC encourages them to sponsor events, taking advantage of these free days, which can be cross-promoted in a variety of ways. To learn more about promoting your freshwater fishing events, contact Bob Wattendorf (Bob.Wattendorf@MyFWC.com). One way to cross-promote is to encourage anglers to participate in the FWC’s angler recognition programs. For freshwater programs, go to www.TrophyCatchFlorida.com and register. Registering instantly enters the angler into an October 2014 drawing for a Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury. Anglers

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