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Give the gift of fishing this season


Florida Fish Busters’ Bulletin
December 2015

Give the gift of fishing this season

By Bob Wattendorf

Thanksgiving has passed and many of us are now looking forward to the holidays when gift giving is so prevalent. When contemplating presents for the fishing enthusiasts in your life, you may want to start with a personal touch and plan some time together on the water.

To plan, you can use the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) freshwater fishing sites/forecast page by going to MyFWC.com/Fishing and selecting “Freshwater Fishing” then “Sites & Forecasts.” You can also check out the gallery and search features on TrophyCatchFlorida.com and BigCatchFlorida.com to help pick the best time and place.

“We know the primary reasons why people fish is to have fun with friends and family in an outdoor setting,” Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, said in a recent news release showing that recreational fishing is on the upswing in many areas. However, he also said, “This latest research shows that, with some regional differences, younger anglers, women and urbanites are more likely to find other ways to achieve these benefits besides fishing.”

Families that already have a fishing tradition and understand the benefits of being in nature and spending quality time together outdoors can use the holidays to reach out and give the best gift ever to others by sharing their love of the outdoors, the excitement, the challenge, the fun and the time together chilling out.

As a well-known advertisement from TakeMeFishing.org says, “Kids don’t remember their best day of television.”

Cool weather in Florida is especially renowned for activating speck to bite. Speck, found throughout the state, are also known as black crappie or speckled perch. The trick is to use small live minnows or lures that imitate schooling bait. Check with local bait and tackle shops for advice and try fishing at various water depths. Once you get your first strike, keep presenting your bait or lure in that same depth, since crappie school together and feed agressively.

Another great gift for a freshwater angler is the popular “Go Fishing” largemouth bass tag for their vehicle or boat trailer (see BuyAPlate.com). The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issues specialty license plate gift certificates that allow anyone to purchase a specialty license plate as a gift for a motor vehicle registrant. This is one of the tags that directly supports FWC efforts to improve fishing in Florida.

Here is a useful gift idea especially for the bass fishermen on your list: Help them register at TrophyCatchFlorida.com and buy them a fishing scale. Just registering enters them in a drawing for a $40,000 Phoenix bass boat, and every time they take a photo of an 8-pound or heavier bass on the scale and submit it, according to the rules, they’ll earn at least $100 in gift cards, plus fishing line, decals and certificates, all year long. Plus they’ll have great memories and bragging rights posted on the website.

A Florida fishing license also makes a great gift. Visit License.MyFWC.com, where you will find licenses for residents and visitors, and a youth fishing license that can be purchased at any age until the youth is 16, and is good until age 17. It locks in the price, and the pride of ownership as a card-carrying sportsman and stewart of our resources. A gift certificate can also be purchased to give to them and simplifies the process for you. Remember, every dollar spent on fishing licenses goes to conservation here in Florida, and each paid license holder helps the FWC get additional funds for Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration projects that enhance fishing now and for future generations. So this is definitely a gift that keeps on giving.

A personal floatation device, also known as a life jacket, is a smart and caring gift for boaters and paddlers on your list. A newer model, such as an inflatable belt pack or suspender-style life jacket, can replace an older, bulkier life jacket and make fishing more comfortable – and save their life.

So from all of us at the FWC, we wish you a very happy holiday season and hope you will take the opportunity to enjoy all the great outdoor experiences the new year has to offer here in the “Fishing Capital of the World.” Good luck and good fishing this year and from now on!

Instant licenses are available at License.MyFWC.com or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or texting to Tip@MyFWC.com. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “more news,” or bit.ly/FishBusters for more Fish Busters’ Bulletins. To subscribe to FWC columns or to receive news releases, visit MyFWC.com/Contact.