The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a new rule Wednesday, reducing the daily bag limit for trophy bass at Orange and Lochloosa lakes in Alachua County. The largemouth bass fishery at Orange Lake Fish Management Area is booming, with many bass weighing more than 10 pounds; some exceeding 15 pounds have been documented.
Anglers want to keep it that way.
The new rule goes into effect in mid-February 2011 and alters the daily bag limit for largemouth bass in Orange and Lochloosa lakes fish management areas from three fish per day outside of the protective slot limit of 15 to 24 inches in total length (all fish between 15 and 24 inches must be released) to three fish per day, only one of which may be over 24 inches in total length. The protective slot limit will remain unchanged. The effect would be to lower the risk of high harvest of highly valued trophy bass in these two connected lakes.
With outstanding fishing and extensive media exposure, FWC biologists and local anglers expect high fishing pressure in the spring. Prior to this rule modification, anglers could harvest three trophy-size bass per day. Although the potential for an angler to catch three trophy bass in one day is low, expected high fishing pressure and the abundance of larger bass in the lake prompted this precautionary action.
FWC staff sought the opinions of anglers and local businesses, with 90 percent supporting this rule change.
“This rule change is consistent with our efforts to manage largemouth bass for the benefit of anglers and local communities, to make Florida the undisputed Black Bass Fishing Capital of the World,” said Allen Martin, FWC regional freshwater fisheries administrator.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, bass anglers enjoyed more than 14 million days of fishing in Florida and generated $1.25 billion for the state’s economy.
“Recreational fishing provides a great opportunity for Florida’s citizens and tourists to get outdoors and connect with nature in a healthy, stress-reducing environment,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “This rule is just one more incremental step in working with anglers and communities to make fishing even better.”
For more details on the new regulation, contact Allen Martin at 386-758-0525.