Florida Fish Busters’ Bulletin

April 2014

April freshwater fishing in Florida is full of fun,
opportunities and rewarding challenges

By: Bob Wattendorf
Freshwater anglers have enjoyed
wonderful fishing in 2014 across Florida,
and this spring should provide more of the
same. Pro-anglers just enjoyed a very
successful Bassmasters Elite Tournament
on the St. J ohns River. On March 23, Chris
Lane, originally from Lakeland, won with a
four-day total of 90.13 pounds, bringing in
20 bass during the four days. Of the top 12
finishers, 11 filled their five-bag limit all four days.
However, the success of the pros is just one indicator of how great the winter
fishing was and what is likely to continue all through spring.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) incentive-based
conservation program titled TrophyCatch rewards anglers for participating in citizen-
science, by catching, documenting and releasing largemouth bass heavier than 8
pounds. Besides the immediate gratification of releasing these older bass to fight
another day, anglers provide valuable information about the number and distribution of
these trophy bass and what it takes to sustain a trophy fishery. Biologists compare the
findings to existing conservation programs such as habitat restoration efforts, aquatic
Len Andrews, 74, visits Florida every year just
for the bass fishing, and it pays off. This is his
13-pound, 12-ounce Hall of Fame entry from
Lake Kingsley. Follow
Facebook.Com/TrophyCatchFlorida to see
where the big ones are being caught.
vegetation management strategies, bass stocking histories and various regulation
management approaches to determine what works best.
Between J an. 1 and March 23, 2013,
anglers entered 54 Lunker Club (8-9.9
pounds), 31 Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds)
and one Hall of Fame bass over 13 pounds.
During the same time period this year, there
were 220 Lunker Club entrants, 89 Trophy
Club and 3 Hall of Fame bass entrants. Part
of that three-fold increase was due to
simplified rules and more anglers being
aware. Nevertheless, it is clear that Florida is
producing and recycling vast numbers or
trophy bass.
So you never know when you may find a lunker on the end of your line. To be
prepared, go to TrophyCatchFlorida.com now, register and check out the rules and
prizing. J ust registering makes you eligible for a random drawing in October for a
Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury and equipped with a Power-Pole. However,
every time you have a TrophyCatch bass verified, your name is entered 10 more times.
Moreover, every verified bass earns you not only bragging rights on the Web but also a
customized certificate, decal and club shirt, plus at least a total of $100 in gift cards from
Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and/or Rapala. Bigger fish earn greater
Not only professional anglers and adults
catch and release trophy bass in Florida.
You never know what memories and fish
the next cast will bring.
rewards: Anglers who have 13-pound plus Hall of Fame entries also get a $500
fiberglass replica of their catch.
All three Hall of Fame entries from this winter (there was one caught in the fall by
Van Soles on Lake Kissimmee) came from semi-private Lake Kingsley in Clay County.
Len Andrews, 74, from Richmond, Va., in a recent two-week period, caught and
released 12 Florida largemouth bass over 10 pounds, capped by a TrophyCatch Hall of
Fame entry that was verified as 13 pounds, 12 ounces. Andrews also became the first
“Triple Crown” winner by documenting a Lunker Club, Trophy Club and Hall-of-Fame
bass. All of the hundreds of bass he’s caught on Lake Kingsley have been with a Zoom
6-inch lizard.
Fellow Lake Kingsley angler J oseph “Brooks” Morrell
recently reported three huge bass that he caught,
documented, released and entered into TrophyCatch. These
included the second and third Hall of Fame entries this season
(Oct. 1, 2013, to Sep. 30, 2014). These two bass weighed 13
pounds, 12 ounces, and 14 pounds, 9 ounces and were
caught March 1 and 8, respectively. The third bass Morrell
caught, on March 9, weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces. All of his
catches were enticed to take an artificial crawfish bait. His 14
pounder is the current season leader. If it holds up, he will
earn the TrophyCatch Championship ring in October, which is
donated by the American Outdoors Fund.
Brooks Morrell's 14 lb,
9 oz Hall of Fame catch
was 27 3/4 inches long
and had a girth of 21
inches. It is currently
the largest bass in
TrophyCatch Florida's
second season.
However, there is still a lot of fishing to be done before then, so get out there and
see what you can catch.
The FWC scheduled the first of four license-free recreational fishing days on the
first full weekend in April each year (April 5-6, 2014), because it coincides with a
productive freshwater fishing period, when the weather is usually pleasant. Many of
Florida’s recreational sport fishes, inlcuding black bass, bluegill and redear sunfish,
move into shallow waters to spawn during spring, making them more available for
anglers to catch.
License-free freshwater fishing weekends are a great time to introduce other
family members, friends and neighbors to fishing and see if they and you would like to
take up the sport. Besides enjoying the fun of reeling in a fish, many people find
recreational fishing to be a good motivator to enjoy the great outdoors and living a more
active, healthy and natural lifestyle.
During license-free freshwater fishing
weekends (the first weekend in April and the
second weekend in J une) no recreational
fishing license is required. However, all other
bag limit and season, gear and size
restrictions apply.
To further encourage recreational
fishing, the FWC will conduct a special
contest during April to collect photos of
anglers. All you have to do is post a photo of your family fishing in Florida’s fresh waters
During April, post a photo of your family
fishing in Florida’s fresh waters on
Twitter or Instagram with #FLfish. In
return for your efforts, the FWC will enter
you into a drawing for one of six surprise
packages. Photo courtesy of
TakeMeFishing.org.
on Twitter or Instagram with #FLfish. In return for your efforts, the FWC will enter you
into a drawing for one of six surprise packages, each including a $50 gift card from Bass
Pro Shops, thanks to TrophyCatch, a Glen Lau video library on DVD and assorted
fishing lures, hooks, line and goodies to make your next trip even more productive.
Submitted photos must be your own. Editing software must not be used, and the
photo cannot include inappropriate content. Photos should be taken during April while
freshwater fishing in Florida and include multiple anglers enjoying their day together on
the water. The FWC may subsequently use the photos for educational or outreach
purposes.
So where will you go for your next freshwater fishing trip? Plenty of resources are
available online to help you choose. Start by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and under
“Freshwater Fishing” pick “Sites/Forecasts.” There you can find the top destinations for
pursuing bass, bream, catfish and other species in 2014, as well as regional forecasts
and tips for local waters; information on all 80 FWC Fish Management Areas; and links
to our boat ramp finder and freshwater fish attractor locations. Another good resource is
TakeMeFishing.org/State/FL.

Instant licenses are available at MyFWC.com/License or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356).
Report violators by calling 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or texting to
Tip@MyFWC.com. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “more news,” or scr.bi/Fish-busters for more
Fish Busters’ Bulletins. To subscribe to FWC columns or to receive news releases, visit
myfwc.com/Contact.

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