FWC Angler Program
In the fall, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conmmission (FWC) plans to release new and updated saltwater angler recognition programs. These programs will challenge all levels of anglers. FWC states that the programs will “cultivate interest in fishing, expand experience for seasoned fishing veterans, strengthen conservation ethics and encourage anglers to target more than one species.”
“We are excited to roll out these new saltwater angler recognition programs this fall and hope Florida’s resident and visiting anglers will enjoy participating in them,” says Jessica McCawley, FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management division director. “Florida has many unique fishing opportunities, and these programs capture the diversity of Florida’s saltwater fisheries in an exciting way that anyone can join in.”
The “Life List” will include 71 saltwater species along with four levels that anglers can achieve status based on the number caught fish. Anglers must submit an application, photos and a photo release. The levels range from novice, with 11 fish checked off the Life List, to the highest of master angler, with completing the entire life list. The corresponding levels with rewards are:
- Novice: 11 Fish checked off the Life List. Rewards include certificate and t-shirt, 5 percent in-store discount at participating shops and dehooking tool
- Pro-Angler: 20 Fish. Rewards include certificate and polarized sunglasses, Buff, 10 percent in-store discount at participating shops
- Expert Angler: 20 Fish. Rewards include certificate and fishing gift basket, 15 percent in-store discount at participating shops
- Master Angler: Rewards include certificate, rod and reel combo, cooler, fishing shirt with logo
As of now, the submission process is handled by two options: emailing [[email protected]](mailto: [email protected]) or mail to: Attn. Angler Recognition, 2590 Executive Center Circle East, Tallahassee, FL 32301. But there might be room to make the process more technologically inclined, says FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley.
“We have thought about smartphone- or website-based ways to submit, but have not moved forward with those processes yet,” says Nalley.
Another program entitled “Reel Big Fish” will reward anglers who catch a “memorable-sized” fish (list in photo above). That description seems to be what bar fights are made of, yet to qualify, fish must be legally caught and meet or exceed the minimum qualifying length. In addition, there will be four levels with rewards for each level. They range from novice with catching fish of five different species to master angler of all 30 species on the Reel Big Fish list.
With such informative documentation of a wide variety of species caught across the state, this could turn into a way to tracking these species, but Nalley says, “tracking the number of fish caught for research purposes is not currently one of the goals of these programs.”