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Below is the latest news related to the Florida Guides Association and other topics related to fishing and boating in the state of Florida.  Check back here often to stay up-to-date with the latest.  You can support us and our mission to protect the Florida fisheries by becoming a member.

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U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland considers congressional hearing on invasive lionfish 

     During a recent trip to Key West, Fla., U.S. Congressman Steve Southerland, (R), who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and its Fisheries Subcommittee, got an up-close, personal look at an invasive lionfish.  Two rapidly reproducing and voracious non-native lionfish species, imported from the Indo-Pacific region, are wreaking havoc on fisheries and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, Western Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea.alt

            Southerland, who was attending a Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting, spent extra time to learn more about the lionfish invasion which is also growing more populous on the reefs near his hometown of Panama City, Fla.  The congressman serves Florida’s second district which includes over half of the Florida Panhandle’s coastal waters.  

           Capt. Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, and Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, showed Southerland a lionfish on display in an aquarium at the sanctuary’s Eco-Discovery Center in the southernmost city.  Kelly, a speaker at the first-ever Lionfish Summit held last October by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in Cocoa Beach, Fla., explained to Mr. Southerland how the invasion has grown to enormous proportions  and detailed efforts now being considered to launch a commercial lionfish trapping program in hopes of containing their spread.

            “We discussed the significance of this invasion and impacts on indigenous species,” said Kelly.  “While the typical fisherman may not know much about them, since lionfish are rarely caught on conventional fishing tackle, thousands of recreational divers, descending to 100 ft. depths, have observed growing numbers of them on popular Florida reefs, submerged wrecks and other underwater sites.  However, these population densities pale in comparison to lionfish aggregations found deeper (120-300’ or more) beyond safe recreational diving depths.”

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FGA honors FWC officer and Marine Fisheries Employee at June Commission Meeting 

The Florida Guides Association on June 18 honored  Officer Craig Baker and staff member Jim Estes of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for their outstanding conservation efforts. 

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                    Capt. Kelly and Officer Baker(left), Capt. Kelly and Jim Estes (Right) Photos by Tim Donovan/FWC

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America's favorite snapper is again legal as of June 1-but the season will be a scant 9 days long.

Don't blink or you'll miss the red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico this year. It opens June 1, slams shut again just nine days later on June 10 thanks to a Byzantine federal management system that tightens the regulations ever more as the fishery gets better and better. (If we get a tropical storm on or about June 1, say goodbye to the entire season 

altFederal regulators say the rules are for the good of the fish-and ultimately of the fishermen. 

But in fact, most experienced reef anglers say red snapper fishing is now better than it has been in at least 40 years thanks to an extended period of tight harvest regulations, and also perhaps due to the success of fish excluder devices on shrimp nets, allowing millions of juvenile snapper to escape these days when in the past they would have wound up as by-catch, dead on the deck. 

The snapper are both much larger than they have been in decades, and much more numerous, according to hundreds of reports from fishermen all around the northern Gulf. It's universal: anglers in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas all report booming snapper populations. 

So why don't the feds want to pony up longer seasons and more generous bag limits?

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Banking on the C.A.L. Shad Tail 

If I had to choose only one plastic bait and fish with it for the rest of my like it would be a D.O.A. lure. Specifically, it would be the C.A.L. 3-inch Shad Tail. I know, the shrimp is great and I have caught tons of fish on the Terroreyz, the Jerk Bait, and the Baitbuster, but I have caught more fish on the Shad Tail. 

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During my years as a fishing guide it was important to catch fish, lots of fish. Seventy percent of my clients came from Orlando where they were visiting the theme parks. They would take one day off from Disney, Universal Studios or Sea World to come to the beach. Ninety percent of them had kids and they wanted their kids to catch fish. 

That really sums it up. The kids had to catch fish so I choose the one lure that I always caught the most fish on. Even the kids could fish with and catch fish on the C.A.L. Shad Tail. I would jokingly instruct them to “throw it out, reel it in, take off the fish.” 

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