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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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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. 


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


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?


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. 


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.” 


Angler’s Paradise – In Search of Smallmouth Bass 

Some places are preordained to be visited by anglers and their families. Edgar Evins State Park is one of those places. This beautiful state park is located on the shores of Center Hill Lake. The steep hilly highlands create an angling and sightseeing paradise just waiting to be explored. Day trips to other highland reservoirs in the area can be easily accomplished from this one central location. 

Full kitchens and two level accommodations characterize the cabins. They are clean, roomy, efficient and economical. A large window opens up to a great view of the lake with a patio just outside. The park has a large onsite marina with restaurant and gift shop as well as seasonal campgrounds.


Many anglers like to visit the park to fish for smallmouth bass in Center Hill Lake. A long time resident of the area and smallmouth angler Ken Reece describes smallmouth bass as much more aggressive than the largemouth. He recommends fishing for them on the lower end of the lake. “I find more smallies on the lower end,” says Reece. “They like the clearer water. You will also find some Kentucky bass, but not as many largemouth.” 

For anglers new to Center Hill Reece recommends choosing one of the many small creeks that feeds the lake and fishing it thoroughly. Set your trolling motor down, start on one point and fish all the way to the back and out the next side. Try different baits all the way through. 

“This technique will speed up the process of figuring out what is going on that day as far as whether they are on rocks, on mud, on gravel.” Once a pattern is developed, move on to other feeder creeks and fish the conditions that were found to be productive. 

Photo: Ken Reece with a spinner bait smallmouth

His prospecting includes throwing lurs like Bandit crank baits on light line. “You just get more bites on lighter line. The action is better. You put a crankbait, like a Bandit, on 6-pound test line and it will dive 2- or 3-feet deeper than the same bait on 8- or 10-pound line. Given the water clarity, that extra depth may be the difference in a fish seeing it and coming up to get it.” 


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