Thus far in 2011, the stars are aligned for bass anglers and fishing in general. Tournaments showcase record- and near-record-breaking catches, and we’re hearing from around the state about big bass and impressive catch numbers.

On Lake Kissimmee, Tom Rewis and Doug Chance produced a five-bass stringer totaling more than 40 pounds to win the Tony Strickland Memorial Tournament. While on Lake Tohopekaliga, Gerald Swindle’s 80-pound, 13-ounce accumulation of 15 bass over three days came close to setting a B.A.S.S. record.

Okeechobee produced a four-day total of 106-pounds, 10-ounces for FLW Tournament winner Brandon McMillan – a new tour record.

Zack Mack, from Tennessee, caught a 14-pound, 2 ounce Florida largemouth bass on Lake Kissimmee in early February.

Meanwhile, Sean Rush of Trophy Bass Expeditions said, “Rodman Lake may be the hottest trophy bass lake anywhere right now.” He recently documented bass over 12 pounds, with two clients catching and releasing 50 fish in a single day.

Even though evidence points to a stellar year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages bass-fishing aficionados to consider catch-and-release for the long-term good of the stock.

The FWC’s “Big Catch” angler-recognition program enables anglers of all ages to submit an application for a full-color, flammable certificate and a window decal to memorialize their fishing trips. The program allows people to submit information about memorable catches of any of 33 species of freshwater fishes for recognition, based on qualifying lengths or weights (see

As part of the public input the FWC received in developing a new Long-Term Black Bass Management Plan, one agreed-upon goal was making Florida the undisputed bass fishing capital of the world. That title is heavily influenced by communicating news about outstanding fishing opportunities.

One component of the plan is a “Trophy Catch” program that recognizes anglers who catch really large bass and provides incentives for them to report and release their catch.

The plan isn’t just about trophy fish. All aspects of fisheries management are being reconsidered and fine-tuned to create the best possible outcome for anglers visiting or living in Florida. Key considerations include habitat improvement, real estate values, improved access to increase local business opportunities, and streamlining rules. Not lost in the plan is the essence of creating safe and sustainable opportunities and the desire to ensure that future generations value our natural resources and perpetuating the fishing tradition.

The FWC is teaming with VISIT FLORIDA to promote our state as the “Fishing Capital of the World.” We are also looking at new and exciting ways to integrate social marketing and modern technology to help families find productive places to fish and overcoming barriers that prevent them from reconnecting with nature.

Another great opportunity for Florida fishing communities is to tout themselves in the World Fishing Network’s “Ultimate Fishing Town USA” competition ( Folks can nominate their town, and people across America will vote for the winner. The winning town receives a $25,000 grant for a fisheries improvement project, and a half-hour television show dedicated entirely to fishing in its community.

The World Fishing Network made Florida its own region because we have such numerous and diverse resources. Since each of the seven regions will have their top two vote-getters in the runoff, Florida will have two finalists. Nominate your town now and publicize the value of your unique fishery resources.

As Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and an avid outdoors person who grew up around the Everglades, I understand that the quality of fishing reflects the quality of living. Florida’s saltwater and freshwater fisheries are world-class, thanks to great resources and responsible management. We should be proud of all the jobs the fishing industry creates, and we should marvel at how fishing can move you from sighs of relaxation as you unwind, to shouts of elation as you catch another Florida trophy, to smiles of satisfaction as you release it to perpetuate the experience.

Till next time tight lines and good fishing….

From Staff Writer @ Bass Online / 888-829-BASS