Catch a Florida Memory

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Creating memories is a fundamental reason many hunters & anglers continue to return to the outdoors each season.  The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is capitalizing on angler’s desire to capture memories of their catches while combining the desire with conservation and an emphasis on the R3 initiative through the Catch a Florida Memory program.

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The Catch a Florida Memory program is designed with the intent to provide recognition for fishing achievements, expanding anger experience, while strengthening conservation ethics, and encouraging anglers to target a diversity of species decreasing fishing pressure on the most sought-after catches. 

Participation is simple! 

  1.       Register at https://catchafloridamemory.com/account/create/
  2.       Take your picture with a saltwater fish you caught while fishing in Florida
  3.       Upload the fish with its species identification and the county it was landed in

Catch a Florida Memory has several programs including a Saltwater Fish Life List where angers attempt to catch 71 species endemic to Florida, the Saltwater Reel Big Fish program recognizing anglers for extraordinarily-sized catches for 30 different saltwater species, and the Saltwater Grand Slams program challenging anglers to catch three specified fish species in a 24-hour period.  There are nine different Grand Slams including the ‘Small Fry Grand Slam’ open to children ages 15 and under who catch a pinfish, catfish and grunt.  Other slams focus on inshore, nearshore, blue water fishing and family slams.  Under the category of Family Grand Slam, an angler must catch any three fish in the same scientific family (i.e. black grouper, red grouper, gag) within a 24-hour period providing opportunities for ongoing personal challenge.

The program provides a fantastic way to involve friends and family members in the pursuit of great memories on public water as well as put a variety of tasty filets on the dinner plate.  In addition to the benefits of fond memories and great food, FWC provides t-shirts, cups and achievement displays.  Kids especially learn through achievement and recognition.  Anglers seeking to involve their children in the sport of fishing can use the program to inspire their kids to improve their skills as they pursue more challenging species while teaching them about the importance of clean water, sustainable fisheries and the ethical harvest of game.  Don’t stop there; remember to bring the kids into the kitchen to teach them how to prepare their catch!

Since inception nearly 1,400 Catch a Florida Memory participants submitted over 15,000 saltwater catches earning 2,800 achievements.  Data compiled during the 2020 fishing season indicates new anglers are participating and catching a diverse array of saltwater species.  Nearly 700 anglers submitted over 5,200 fish earning almost 1,000 achievements.

Soon the waters in Florida will begin warming bringing the perennial migration of tarpon, dolphin and cobia.  Year-round sportsmen and women will begin ‘summerizing’ their hunting gear, trading their boots for flip flops and trading their shotguns for spinning rods.  This year remember to take a kid fishing and consider using the Catch a Florida Memory program to being cataloging memories of your own.

Jim Hasley

Jim Hasley serves as a Vice Chairman in the Florida Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He’s been plying the woods and waters of Florida and the Southeast for decades; he loves family, friends and food. For questions or comments Jim can be reached at jimhasley@icloud.com

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