On this episode of Guided with Mark Melnyk, Mark teams up with Vaughn Cochrane for some stellar Florida Bahamas fishing. Check out photos from this episode here.
This travel guide takes a look at some of the great fishing trips and outdoor travel you can take in Florida.
Lake OkeechobeeLake Okeechobee is the crown jewel of bass fishing in Florida. At 730 square miles, it is the largest freshwater lake in the state. Home to some of the biggest bass tournament series in the world.
Tampa BayTampa Bay has plenty of sea grass, mud flats and mangrove wetlands that provide habitat for over 200 species of fish. Popular sportfish in the bay include tarpon, redfish, snook and spotted seatrout.
Florida, the land of beaches, vacation, theme parks, sun, fun, and, not be left out, fishing. If ever there was a place that deserved the nickname “fishing capital of the world” it’s the Sunshine State. Few states can boast the amount of quality bass fishing lakes that Florida can, or the sheer diversity of ocean fish species surrounding its coast. As you would expect, the commercial fishing industry is a thriving part of the Florida economy, but it’s the recreational side of things that makes Florida fishing so special. There are hundreds if not thousands of fishing charters and Florida fishing guides available, with enough bait stores and pro shops to supply any amount of anglers. There’s no better recreational activity than fishing to get the youth outdoors due to its low cost and overall fun factor. Florida even boasts the world’s longest fishing pier, a whopping mile-and-a-half long, and one of the biggest lakes in the United States, Lake Okeechobee. Throw all of that on top of the responsible and effective management of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and you have the perfect storm of fishing quality and availability.
About the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision
When talking about fishing in Florida, it’s very important to mention the significance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Established on July 1, 1999, the FWC’s mission is “managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of the people.” It protects and manages:
- More than 575 species of wildlife.
- More than 200 native species of freshwater fish.
- More than 500 native species of saltwater fish.
The FWC sees to it that the needs of these species are effectively balanced with the needs of Florida’s 19 million residents, as well as the millions of tourists who visit the state each year.
The significance of the FWC’s responsibilities cannot be understated. These responsibilities include:
- Law Enforcement – Enforcing rules that protect fish and wildlife, as well as enforcing rules that keep boaters, both residents and tourists, safe on the water.
- Research – FWC scientists work diligently to positively influence management decisions in regards to fish and wildlife populations and habitat issues.
- Management – Conserving the state’s complex and delicate ecosystems and the species that inhabit them.
- Outreach – Encouraging participation, responsible citizenship, and stewardship of natural resources through programs such as boating and hunting safety classes, programs that aim to expose children to nature, and programs that help Floridians coexist with the state’s wildlife.
Another initiative that is operated by the FWC is the Big Catch Angler Recognition Program, which rewards anglers who catch a memorable-sized fish. Qualifying anglers receive a colorful citation showing the type fish they caught and may request a window sticker to display their prowess.
Once you catch a fish you believe qualifies, submit a photo and catch details. You can limit information shown to the public or share the details. Upon review and approval your photo will be posted, and you will receive a link to your certificate and special offers.