FWC Angler Recognition Program? Florida has an angler recognition program? Yes, yes it does! While hosting the 2nd Annual Inshore Xtreme Challenge kayak fishing tournament, we had Jill Christoferson of FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) give a seminar on safe release methods. During her presentation, we learned about the new Angler Recognition Program from FWC.Many of the anglers present were excited to learn about the program. My thoughts were finally, Florida now has an Angler Recognition Program of their own for anglers. Anglers who catch three species (a slam) of fish in a 24-hour period are eligible to participate. There are 9 Grand Slam categories for anglers to participate in for the Saltwater Angler Recognition Program:
Florida: Permit, Tarpon, Bonefish
Inshore: Red Drum, Spotted Seatrout, Flounder
Shoreline: Sheepshead, Kingfish (whiting), Florida Pompano
Bay & Estuary: Mangrove Snapper, Snook, Spanish Mackerel
Nearshore: Cobia, Tripletail, King Mackerel
Reefs & Rubble: Black Sea Bass, Gag Grouper, Gray Triggerfish
Blue Water: Dolphinfish, Sailfish, Wahoo
Family: Any three species from the same family
Small Fry (15 & under): Pinfish, Grunt, catfish
FWC’s Grand Slam program is conducted in collaboration with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). A Grand Slam is defined as the catch or catching and releasing of three different species in a 24-hour period. All Grand Slam catches, past and present, are eligible as long as they can be documented and have been caught in a 24-hour period and in accordance with FWC and IGFA rules. Anglers will not have to harvest their fish to be eligible, and are strongly encouraged to release their catches alive.
Photographs are required and may be used in various FWC publications as well as MyFWC.com. Fill out the application and mail with photos to: IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, FL 33004 or email: HQ@igfa.org.
Each time an angler gets a grand slam, they will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a t-shirt with the fish from that slam on it. There will be 8 slams plus a Small Fry Slam for children 15 and under.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s commitment to managing fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of people is achieved in part by providing opportunities for anglers to enjoy and help conserve the amazing array of fish and wildlife that call Florida home. FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Program entices anglers to get involved and learn more about Florida’s diverse marine resources while adding to an exciting day out on the water. These programs enhance the fishing experience for resident and visiting anglers and to those who have yet to discover the joy of fishing.
To participate in Florida’s saltwater angler recognition programs:
- All fish must be caught by the angler being recognized in accordance with the saltwater recreational fishing regulations of the state of Florida at the time of the catch
- An angler must be properly licensed or meet license exemption qualifications
- Use legal recreational fishing gear
- Fish in Florida state waters where the angler has legal access
Your submissions to this program including photos and other data provided to the Florida Angler Recognition program constitute a release for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use them without compensation or further notice for research, information and other public purposes, such as being posted on the FWC website.
Fish do not have to be harvested for the purpose of this program. If a fish is to be released and photographs are required, recreational fishing regulations apply.
The purpose of the Saltwater Angler Recognition Program is to:
- Encourage anglers to target a diversity of species
- Expand fishing experience for seasoned anglers
- Strengthen conservation ethics
- Cultivate interest in saltwater fishing
FWC also offers a Big Catch Angler Recognition Program for the low sodium anglers. In the future, FWC will also implement 2 other Angler Recognition Programs. Life List where anglers track their progress at catching 71 specie of saltwater fish and get recognized for their achievements, and Reel Big Fish where anglers can catch a larger than normal sized fish and brag about it. There will be 30 species categories in the Reel Big Fish program.
As kayak anglers, we truly never need an extra excuse to head out to the water. FWC gives us several new exciting reasons and motivation to get out and explore the amazing fishery that Florida has to offer.