News Releases

Bass are on the beds and on our minds

Fish Busters' Bulletin

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Media contact: Bob Wattendorf

Spring is here, and the bass are on their beds.  The males have been fanning out beds on firm lake bottoms with plenty of nearby vegetation.  If they are successful in their amorous intents to entice a female to join them, they'll soon be spending time guarding the nest and fanning tens of thousands of eggs to keep them oxygenated.

This annual ritual is dependent not only on the sexual appeal of the individual bass, but also on the quality of the environment, the vagaries of weather, and impacts of man.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists are charged with sustaining fish populations while providing recreational opportunities for more than 1.4 million anglers, who enjoy more than 24 million bass fishing trips a year in Florida and bolster the economy by $1.4 billion.

The FWC faces a huge challenge that requires different approaches in many of Florida's 7,700 lakes, which comprise 3 million acres of water, plus 12,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals. FWC biologists work with many partners to ensure water quality and healthy populations of bass. The FWC also conducts major habitat-enhancement projects and controls the spread of nonnative plants.  The FWC's two freshwater fish hatcheries provide quality, disease-free, genetically appropriate bass for stocking when needed.

These biologists modify fishing regulations when necessary to ensure quality bass fishing now and in the future.  Wildlife officers enforce the rules. Outreach efforts help reconnect Floridians of all ages with nature to lead happier, healthier and smarter lifestyles, following the advice of the Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition and the Children and Nature Network.

Biologists from the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the University of Florida are conducting a statewide largemouth bass research study.  Scientists hope to learn how frequently bass are caught and harvested and more about the size range of fish caught. Results of this study will help them manage the fishery for quality and trophy-sized largemouth bass.

Bass in 30 lakes throughout the state have been tagged with small, yellow tags along the back of the fish, just below the dorsal fin. These tags carry a printed telephone number, e-mail address, tag number (e.g., LMB 0001) and reward value.

Anglers should carefully examine all bass caught in Florida lakes for reward tags, as biologists have tagged fish from lakes throughout the state. To claim their reward, anglers are encouraged to report these tags to the FWC Angler Tag Return Hotline (800-367-4461). The FWC is also working with BountyFishing.com to gain additional information about big bass being caught throughout Florida and is monitoring results from all permitted bass tournaments.

With all of this going on, the FWC has decided it is time to have a long-term management plan for black bass (largemouth bass, shoal bass, spotted bass and Suwannee bass).  To learn more about the plan, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing.  You can help by completing the online survey.

Don't forget, your fishing license fees and excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and motorboat fuels fund all of these efforts. The funds are returned to the FWC from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on the number of paid license-holders in Florida.

To thank anglers for their contributions and to work with industry partners, the FWC is offering a special 5-year freshwater fishing license bonus program.  Until 3,000 boxes filled with free tackle, publications and fishing accessories are distributed, anyone buying a 5-year freshwater fishing license will receive the bonus automatically in the mail. A 5-year license costs just $79, plus a convenience fee, but in return you know the fees won't increase while you have your license, and you don't need to worry about renewing for five years.

Five-year licenses are available online at MyFWC.com/License and via the toll-free phone number, 888-347-4356. In addition, they may be purchased at any license agent, such as retail stores that sell fishing supplies and bait-and-tackle shops or at county tax collectors' offices.

For information about local fishing opportunities, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing, where you can also verify that you will be one of the first 3,000 and see all of the bonus package contents.



FWC Facts:
Black bears may look slow because they walk flat on their feet (called plantigrade) like people and travel with a shuffling gait, but they can run as fast as 30 mph.

Learn More at AskFWC