This is your guide to freshwater fishing laws and regulations. The Florida Wildlife Code is the final authority on fishing laws. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) strives to ensure this information is accurate but assumes no liability for errors that may occur. In addition, rules can change between publications. Contact the FWC if you have questions not adequately covered in this booklet. This publication is valid from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.
Florida remains the "Fishing Capital of the World," due to great resources and responsible management. We consider the quality of life that is associated with recreational activities and living in a healthy environment to be extremely important to Floridians and visitors and are also striving to make Florida the undisputed "Bass Fishing Capital."
The FWC uses the best scientific management possible to help fulfill its mission of "Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people." To fund those efforts, the Legislature sets fishing license fees and exemptions, as well as penalties for violating fish and wildlife conservation laws. State law guarantees money from sale of fishing licenses goes to the FWC and cannot be diverted.
In 1950, congressmen Dingell and Johnson, at the request of anglers and the fishing industry, created the original Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program wherein fishing tackle was assessed an excise fee and the monies returned to the states for introduction fish restoration projects. The "Wallop-Breaux" amendment in 1984 expanded the act by adding import duties on sport fishing equipment, pleasure boats and yachts as well as taxes on motorboat fuels. The result is one of the most successful "user-pays, user-benefits" programs in the world, with taxes from sale of outdoor recreation supplies directly enhancing and promoting the resource.
The amount of money Florida receives from SFR is based on the size of the state and the number of paid licensed anglers - not licenses and permits, but the people who hold them. For instance, an angler with freshwater and saltwater licenses and a snook permit counts as one holder. Each certified holder generates approximately $7.49 more for sportfish restoration providing nearly $12 million for Florida in 2010 (versus $14 million in 2009).
Of those monies 15 percent went to boating access - building and repairing ramps and courtesy docks. The remainder went to fresh and saltwater fisheries conservation projects such as habitat restoration, fish stocking, artificial reefs construction, and youth fishing clinics.
The FWC encourages all anglers to buy a license. Even if you are legally exempt, you can contribute to the future of our fisheries resources by buying a license and helping the FWC keep your federal tax dollars in Florida to support sportfish restoration.
Recreational fishing often is portrayed in advertising because it is an enjoyable, wholesome experience that reflects a happy and healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it is the number one gateway activity to get youth connected to nature in active outdoor recreation, which can reduce obesity, improve grades and most of all adds enjoyment to their lives. The FWC is working hard to ensure safe and sustainable recreational fishing for all of our citizens and guests and depends on your license fees to make sure there are fish for tomorrow.