At last nights Freshwater Fishing Club meeting in The Villages, Fishery Biologist Eric “Bubba” Thomas discussed statewide proposed changes to bass regulations, spring sampling results,& angling hot spots. The proposed changes to the bass regs are somewhat surprising. The state suggests for those that harvest bass, a daily bag limit of 5 bass is fine but only 1 fish can be longer than 16″. So….ALL these years we’ve been told to throw the small fish back to let them grow is out the window. FWC data has shown that most of the fish caught under 16″ are the males & most males do not exceed 2.5 lbs. This 11″ bass may be on your dinner plate.
How many times have you been to the lake where you have an abundance of undersized fish and then catch 1 that’s over the minimum limit & keep it? The FWC says we’re doing just the opposite of what should be happening. By harvesting the smaller fish, it allows the larger fish to grow and reproduce a more valuable strain “size wise”. Sure we want the specie to survive and some lakes are better than others. Compare Kingsley to Lake Weir. Kingsley seems to have larger fish compared to Weir that is loaded with <14″ skinny what I refer to as “bank runners’. Fun to catch but where’s the larger fish? This proposed rule change would hopefully benefit bodies of water like Weir. Sounds like Kingsley’s fishery is already balanced by the results of many successful anglers. BUT….when was the last time you harvested a bass? The tagging study has shown that 90% of the anglers released the tagged bass they caught. On the other hand if the proposed change passes, I suspect those who want a meal will keep small bass maybe even down to 8”. This change is in the works and not carved in stone by any means. It’s “proposed”. Would I personally harvest any small bass? Probably not. But making it available for others to do so is fine with me.