By Amanda Nalley, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been having fun this season promoting two new Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs and one older program that was recently revamped.
These incentive programs, known by the catch phrase “Catch a Florida Memory,” reward folks for their fishing efforts while encouraging ethical fishing by getting anglers to target a diversity of species, which decreases fishing pressure on their favorites.
- Saltwater Fish Life List: Similar to a birding life list, this program allows anglers to track their progress at catching 71 different species of saltwater fish. Anglers who catch at least 10 different Life List species can join the Saltwater Fish Life List Club and receive a certificate of accomplishment, a colorful shirt and be eligible for additional prizes.
- Saltwater Reel Big Fish: Celebrates memorable-sized catches of 30 different species in both adult and youth (under 16 years old) categories. Successful participants receive a certificate of accomplishment and a colorful shirt. Anglers who catch 5, 10, 15 or all 30 Saltwater Reel Big Fish species can also gain recognition and the chance to win prizes by joining the Saltwater Reel Big Fish Club.
- Saltwater Grand Slams: The more established of the three programs, Grand Slams award anglers for catching three specified fish species within a 24-hour period. The FWC has nine different Saltwater Grand Slams, including a Small Fry Grand Slam for anglers 15 and under. Successful anglers will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a colorful shirt showing the fish from their Grand Slam. There are also three prize tiers that award anglers who catch three, six or all eligible Grand Slams.
Staff have been promoting these programs in a variety of ways, including the new CatchaFloridaMemory.com website, created in WordPress; the Catch a Florida Memory Facebook page (like us today!); videos on our FWC Saltwater Fishing YouTube channel; infographics; brochures; posters; press releases; giveaways; and a photo board cutout featured at various events statewide. We also have made a big media push in an effort to get the word out.
The program has been successful overall but could still use help in getting much sought-after sponsors/partners and getting more activity on the Facebook page (ideas are welcome here).
Since Oct. 19, when the new programs launched, we’ve had 22 Grand Slam entries, 12 Reel Big Fish entries and 15 who have qualified for the Saltwater Life List Club. Before launching the new programs, we got only about 40 total submissions per year. That means we have already surpassed our average number of annual entries in just two months.
Want to learn more? Visit the website at CatchaFloridaMemory.com or “like” our Facebook page at Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory or email AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com. Email me, the author, at Amanda.Nalley@MyFWC.com.