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New Bass rules

Capt. Frank Bourgeois
August 12, 2016
Hernando Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

New Largemouth Bass Regulation Change

Statewide 5- fish daily bag limit, only one of which may be 16 inches or greater in total length

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Largemouth bass are Florida's most sought-after freshwater sportfish. About seventy percent of Florida's 1.4 million freshwater anglers target largemouth bass, generating well over a half billion dollars in retail sales. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) recently adopted the Black Bass Management Plan (BBMP) to guide future management and conservation of black bass populations. The goal is the optimal sustainable use of Florida's bass fisheries with emphasis on high quality and trophy bass in order to ensure Florida is the Black Bass Fishing Capital of the World.

Florida's statewide largemouth bass regulations, which expire June 30, 2016, were developed 20 years ago with separate regulations for north, central and south Florida. Since then, 25 different size and bag limits have been instituted on various lakes throughout the state. FWC biologists believe that Florida's bass populations are healthy. Harvest rates of bass is very low, primarily due to the popularity of catch-and-release fishing. However, harvest of larger bass, especially those over eight pounds, may be higher. FWC biologists were tasked with exploring development of the least restrictive regulations feasible that will protect and enhance trophy bass fisheries, maintain healthy bass populations statewide, and provide diverse angling opportunities, including controlled harvest, that promote high angler satisfaction.

The new rule (effective July 1, 2016) maintains a statewide 5-black bass daily bag limit, but changes it so that only one of them may be 16 inches or greater in total length. With the new regulation, there are no longer be zones within the state with different largemouth bass regulations. Additionally, many of the resource specific special regulations for largemouth bass have been removed and these resources will be managed under the new statewide regulation to simplify the rules.

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