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Angling for a million-dollar largemouth bass

Fish Busters' Bulletin

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Media contact: Bob Wattendorf

Fishermen around Florida are assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) by filling out surveys on bass fishing.  The information gathered, along with scientific information, will help create a draft Florida Black Bass Management Plan.

This plan is an evolving strategy to establish Florida as the undisputed "Bass Fishing Capital of the World," in addition to being the "Fishing Capital of the World."

Florida currently is the "Fishing Capital of the World" based on the number of anglers, amount of time spent fishing, economic impact and tourists who take advantage of our resources. The most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation again ranked Florida No. 1 in in-state anglers (2.8 million), angler expenditures ($4.4 billion), angler-supported jobs (75,068) and state and local taxes generated by sport fishing ($440 million). In addition, Florida has far more International Game Fish Association (IGFA) records than any other state or country.

Similarly, Florida produces many of the world's premier bass fisheries, and bass anglers spend more than 14 million days each year here, which generates $1.25 billion for the state's economy. With 3 million acres of freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, and 12,000 miles of rivers, streams and canals all loaded with bass, Florida is a Mecca for bass anglers.

The Florida largemouth bass population is genetically unique and has been stocked worldwide because of its potential for rapid growth to trophy size (more than10 pounds). Moreover, Florida has shoal, spotted and Suwannee bass, each of which exist in discrete areas and require specific habitat and food bases to maintain their populations. Programs such as the Black Bass Grand Slam promoted in BassMaster Magazine are drawing more attention to these limited populations - necessitating greater attention to conservation practices.

Florida's native and widely dispersed populations of black bass are available  in thriving natural habitats within a 30- to 60-minute drive from anywhere in the state, except for the Keys.

BASS' top 25 bass of all time now includes 20 fish from California, two from Florida, two from Japan and one from Georgia.  In both California and Japan, the bass in question are imports that came from Florida.

To make the most of your fishing license dollars and federal excise taxes on fishing tackle and motor boat fuels, the FWC is beginning to hold meetings with a citizens' Technical Advisory Group to look at the results of the first two waves of public surveys. Visit MyFWC.com/BassPlan_Survey to see the preliminary survey results, and sign up to review and comment on the first full draft plan, due out sometime in August. The final plan is anticipated to be approved in early January 2011 after additional public input.

To encourage bass anglers to catch and properly report Florida's next state record bass, BountyFishing is hosting a Million Dollar Bass Bounty. The contest is open to all anglers legally fishing in any public body of water in Florida from July 5 to Aug. 1. Sign-up costs $7 per day or $19 for one week, but the first 1,000 entrants will receive a 50-percent discount and pay just $38 for all four weeks. To sign up for the Florida Million Dollar Bass Bounty or a free June fishing tournament, visit www.bountyfishing.com/FL.

BountyFishing.com provides anglers an opportunity to compete in fishing contests to win cash and prizes from their favorite fishing spots. To promote catch-and-release fishing, BountyFishing uses FBI-strength image-analysis software to validate winners based on catch photos. For a free trial offer of an Internet-managed fishing tournament, visit www.bountyfishing.com/FL. A part of your tournament fees goes to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Inc., a non-profit, public-support organization that enhances FWC conservation efforts. However, neither the FWC nor the state of Florida endorses any individual company, and Bounty Fishing is solely responsible for its products and fulfillment of any offers.

BountyFishing will share information with the FWC as part of the Black Bass Management Plan initiative. FWC biologists are certain a largemouth bass exceeding the current official record of 17 pounds, 4 ounces (set in July 1986) is waiting to be caught. In 2008, an 18-pound, 8-ounce bass was caught, photographed and released in Florida. It exceeded the record but was not certified by an FWC biologist; nor was a 20-pound, 2-ounce hawg hooked in 1923, or several other bass reported to our "Big Catch" angler-recognition program.



FWC Facts:
The Florida black bear is a unique subspecies of the American black bear. It is the state's largest land mammal.

Learn More at AskFWC