Local Sports

Bass bag limit rule change

The FWC is asking the public to get involved and participate in a survey they are conducting on their website regarding a new rule change in the daily bag limit for bass.

Instead of the three different bag limits currently enforced throughout the state—northwest, northeast to central, and south zones, the new rule change would be just one statewide rule of five bass under 16 inches with one bass allowed over 16 inches of those five bass.

To access the online survey regarding the ‘daily bass bag limit rule change’ go to http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/bass-regulations/

The new bass bag limit rule would not affect tournament bass anglers. They would still be able to obtain regulation exemptions on the FWC website that would allow weighing-in bass within the protected slot size of over 16 inches etc.

And regarding special bag limit rules on lakes like Istokpoga and Walk-In-Water that currently have a three bass per angler per day of sizes 15 inches or smaller with allowance of one of the three to be over 24 inches, right now the FWC is currently evaluating these two fisheries for later determination.

This is why if you’re an angler who fishes these two lakes, which most of the anglers in Highlands County I know do fish these two lakes, you should participate in the survey to voice your opinion on the proposed rule change. The new rule change is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016.

My opinion is that it would be a very good rule change. For one reason, anglers who like to eat bass would be consuming bass with the lowest levels of mercury. Two, mostly the ‘slow growing’ members of the bass species would be harvested-few anglers actually harvest bass. Three, since male bass grow to a maximum size of less than 16 inches during their entire life, and slow growing females have a higher mortality rate, the superior members of the bass species will be protected and thus grow in larger numbers to trophy sizes. And four, it eliminates problems and simplifies the understanding and enforcement of the bass bag limits since there will be only one rule--with the few exceptions of special management areas.

This new rule change enhances the bass fishing experience for the majority of bass anglers. Florida is known worldwide as the Bass Fishing Capital of the World, and this rule change would greatly strengthen this status and everyone’s lives who work to preserve and promote the richest bass habitat on the planet.

For the summer months, June, July, and August, I am offering a half-day bass fishing trip for one to three people that include bait and tackle, for $225. Launch time is at 6 a.m. and the trip ends at noon. Book your trip today.

You can access all Lake Istokpoga information such as lake management plans and events, current spillway status, real-time data and many other facts concerning Highlands County’s top fishery by visiting Istokpoga.info.

And, if you would like to view and or print a lake contour map of the lake you are fishing, anywhere in the state providing one has been created and offered on the internet, visit online, FloridaLakesMaps.com where all maps are free.

Fish and Wildlife Commission News (FWC): The FWC has given freshwater anglers a free weekend of fishing — no fishing license required — this Saturday and Sunday.

Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist in Central Florida. The full article can be accessed at BassFishingForecast.com and FloridaBassFishingForecast.com. Main website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: davidpdouglass@hotmail.com.