OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Freshwater Fisheries Management

What is the purpose of the program?

The commission's Freshwater Fisheries Management Program manages, enhances, and conserves Florida's freshwater aquatic life for public benefit.

What services are provided by the program?

The program's services include
  • evaluating resource conditions to determine goals for freshwater fisheries;
  • using management strategies to conserve or improve freshwater fish species;
  • maintaining fish management areas to provide quality fishing opportunities; and
  • producing and rearing freshwater sport fish for stocking into public waters to improve recreational fishing.

What is a fish management area?

Fish management areas include ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water established for the management of freshwater fish.  The program works cooperatively with local governments to manage about 80 water bodies throughout the state that are designated as Fish Management Areas. Examples include most urban fishing lakes and commission-constructed impoundments. In many cases, these lakes are stocked with channel catfish, largemouth bass, and sunshine bass. A freshwater fishing license is required for Fish Management Area lakes.

What is the condition of Florida's freshwater fish species?

The commission reported that 82% of lakes sampled had stable or increasing freshwater fish populations in Fiscal Year 2018-19.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Dollars Positions


Angler Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation. Anglers play a critical role in fisheries conservation.  The challenge is not only to recruit new anglers, but also to retain current anglers and reactivate previous anglers. The commission is working internally and externally to develop programs to recruit, retain, and reactivate anglers in Florida. The commission issued a Fishing Action Plan in support of this effort in November 2018.

In addition, the agency's commissioners approved development of a fishing grant program in May 2019 to increase participation in freshwater fishing. The new program allows the commission to offer grants to partner organizations that helping achieve participation goals, assisting with fisheries research, and evaluating the effectiveness of R3 (Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation) programs. 

Shoal Bass. The commission reports the shoal bass population in the Chipola River and its tributaries has potentially been affected due to the effects of Hurricane Michael. Recent sampling efforts have produced significantly lower catches of shoal bass. Consequently, the commission issued a rule change in October 2019, suspending the harvest and possession of shoal bass from the Chipola River and its tributaries. Anglers are permitted to catch and immediately release shoal bass. Shoal bass are also being kept at the Blackwater Hatchery for spawning and restocking efforts to protect this species.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapter 379 and s. 20.331, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Jon Fury, Director, Freshwater Fisheries Management, 850-617-9517, email:  jon.fury@myfwc.com