Florida is known for world-class fishing. Here are the answers and stories behind our latest trivia quiz about the fishing capital of the world.
The most recent world record was set in October of 2021 by a 12-year-old in Palm City for catching a 58 pound one of these:
B. Jack crevalle
C. Striped bass
The answer is B- Jack crevalle
Nicolas Fano, a seventh grader from Palm City caught a 58 pound, 8 ounce jack crevalle in Bessey Creek, just across from his house, which earned him two fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association. He and a friend decided to fish on a quiet Saturday morning and throw out some bait. Little did he know, he would soon find himself in a 40-minute battle to land the giant fish. In an interview with TCPalm he said "I was pretty nervous, I have to admit. We see 30-pound jacks all the time, so I knew this one was huge. I didn't want to hit the line with the net and knock the fish off, or lose the fish trying to get it into the net." After landing the fish, the seasoned young angler, weighed, documented, and released the fish.
Fort Pierce is home to another world record set by a visitor from Orlando in 1995. Craig Carson was fishing from a small boat at Tucker Cove when he landed a 17-pound one of these:
B. Red snapper
C. Spotted seatrout
The answer is C- Spotted seatrout
The fish weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces, was 39 ½ inches long and 18 7/8 inches in girth caught by Craig Carson and catch is considered one of the top 50 record catches of all time by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and is included in the book BIG: The 50 Greatest WorldRecord Catches by Mike Rivkin. Funny story: Carson, age 30 at that time, was unaware of the significance of his catch and, according to local news stories, when he arrived back at his motel he threw the fish into a shower as a prank to scare a fishing buddy. He kept the fish on ice as he drove home to Orlando the next day and began to wonder how much it weighed.
“I had no idea it was some kind of record and neither did Dad,” Carson said during an interview for a 1995 story in FLORIDA TODAY. “Because it was so big I thought I should have it weighed at a tackle shop,” Carson said. “But nothing was open by the time I got home. So, I went downtown looking for a place and found a meat market, Little Dan’s Fish and Meats on Church Street. They weighed and witnessed it for me.”
Snook are the most sought-after inshore game fish because of their fighting abilities and table fare appeal. Which of the following statements are true about snook?
A. There are five species of snook in Florida waters
B. They are not commercially available
C. They can be harvested year-round
D. There are no size limits for harvesting snook
The answer is A & B- The five species of snook occurring in Florida are not commercially available.
The species of snook in our waters include the common snook, small-scale fat snook, large-scale fat snook, tarpon snook, and swordspine snook. The common snook is the most commonly caught. Snook are not commercially available which is likely why they are such a popular target. Not only fun to catch, their texture and flavor are outstanding table fare that cannot be found in any local fish market or on any restaurant menu. This multi-faceted appeal is one of the reasons why harvesting of these fish is strictly regulated. On the Atlantic side of the state the season is closed from December 15 through January 31, and June 1 through August 31. In order to be harvested, the fish must be no less than 28” and no more than 32” (slot size) and the daily bag limit is one per harvester. Snook may only be targeted with hook-and-line gear and a $10 snook permit in addition to a saltwater license is required to take them.
Which Treasure Coast city boasts the title of “Sailfish Capital of the World?”
A. Fort Pierce
B. Jensen Beach
C. Vero Beach
The answer is Yikes! We didn’t intend for that to be a trick question and apologize that it is “none of the above!”
Stuart, Florida is in the middle of Sailfish Alley on the Treasure Coast. Sailfish is the most targeted sport-fish in the world and off the coast of Stuart, they are caught year-round. Sailfish gather along the Treasure Coast and start moving again when the winter cold fronts start pushing through. The Sailfish migration begins during the fall, but they travel in packs down the east coast of Florida feeding on mullet, sardines, and threadfin herring all year round. Sailfish are considered some of the fastest swimmers in the ocean, reaching speeds as high is 68 miles per hour. They are big and put up a spirited fight, making them a favorite among trophy anglers. The sailfish is also Florida's state saltwater fish.
Dolphin Fish, Wahoo, Yellowfin tuna, and King mackerel are all examples of these kinds of saltwater fish:
A. Pelagic fish
B. Reef fish
C. Bottom fish
The answer is A- Pelagic fish
Pelagic fish get their name from the area that they inhabit called the pelagic zone. The pelagic zone is the largest habitat on earth with a volume of 330 million cubic miles. Different species of pelagic fish are found throughout this zone. Numbers and distributions vary regionally and vertically, depending on availability of light, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, and pressure. Pelagic fish may be categorized as coastal and oceanic fish, depending on the depth of the water they inhabit. Coastal pelagic fish inhabit sunlit waters up to about 655 feet deep, above the continental shelf. Since there is no distinct boundary from coastal to ocean waters, some oceanic fish may also be partial residents of coastal waters, often during different stages of their lifecycle. Yellowfin tuna and dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) are examples of popular pelagic fish targeted by Florida anglers.
Nicknamed the “Silver King,” this spirited gamefish can grow up to 8 feet long, but it is unlawful to remove one over 40 inches from the water.
The answer is A- Tarpon
But good luck with that anyway because it’s rare to even keep a big tarpon on long enough to reel it in due to their fierce fighting and acrobatic abilities. A good size tarpon can jump 10 feet from the water! Tarpon is a catch-and-release only species in Florida and anglers need a special permit to harvest them. These tags can only be used for potential state or IGFA records. Proper tarpon handling is widely respected which is why you will almost always see photos of anglers with their catch in the water with the fish. Tarpon fight hard and need recovery time in order to survive after being released. Pulling the fish from the water can cause gill damage and increase stress which will reduce its chances for survival. A weakened tarpon is easy prey for sharks.
Anglers looking qualify for an Inshore Grand Slam under FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Program need to catch which three of these species one day?
A. Red drum
B. Spotted seatrout
C. Red fish
The answer is B, C, and D- Spotted seatrout, Redfish, and Flounder.
In late 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) updated the new Saltwater Angler Recognition Program. The program introduced several categories and ways to challenge yourself while Saltwater Fishing. One of the categories “Saltwater Grand Slams” listed nine different grand slams and the fish required to accomplish each. To qualify anglers must catch the three desired species listed for the specific slam in a 24-hour period. An Inshore Grand Slam is made up of three species; Redfish, Spotted Seetrout, and Flounder. The program encourages catch and release, photos are proof of catch, and can be submitted here.
It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell, or exchange which of the following species?
A. Goliath Grouper
B. Florida Queen Conch
D. Puffer Fish
The answer as of March 3, 2022 was all of the above. Read on!
Queen conch, a large slow moving sea snail, used to be found in high numbers in the Keys. But after a collapse in conch fisheries in the 1970s, commercial or recreational harvest of these mollusks became illegal in Florida. Conch is considered a delicacy and while you’ll find it on many restaurant menus in prepared in a variety of dishes, most of what is freshly available is sourced in the Bahamas. Beware, recreational shell hunters. There are strict regulations around what you can take.
Sawfish have been protected in Florida since 1992 and became federally listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2003. Sawfishes, of which there are five species in the world, are named for their long, toothed “saw” or rostrum, which they use for hunting prey and defense. The decline in population is owed to accidental catch in commercial nets, loss of habitat, and their slow growth and reproduction rates. It is illegal to target sawfish in Florida though incidental encounters have happened.
There are at least nine species of puffer fish in Florida including the Southern Puffer which is predominant on the Treasure Coast. If you fish the lagoon, it’s next to impossible not to hook one sooner or later and, as entertaining as it may be to see them “inflate,” it is illegal to harvest them. But the prohibition has nothing to do with conservation of the species and everything to do with conservation of human life. These curious creatures, especially those along the Treasure Coast, can cause saxitoxin poisoning if consumed which can lead to a host of scary symptoms and even death. Cooking or cleaning the fish will not destroy the toxin.
The Atlantic goliath grouper can reach 800 pounds more than eight feet long but since 1990 they have been protected in state and federal waters due to overfishing. However, to the dismay of some and the delight of others, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in its March 3 meeting of this year, gave the final go ahead to reopen this fishery to recreational harvest, though in a very limited way. The new regulations will allow up to 200 of the fish to be harvested per year through permits awarded by a random draw lottery. The permits carry a hefty price, $150 for residents and $500 for non-residents and the season will be limited to March 1 through May 31 beginning in the spring of 2023. Only one fish per person, per season may be taken and the slot limit is 24 to 36 inches. Allowable gear will be hook-and-line only and harvest will be permitted in all state waters except those of Martin County south through the Atlantic coast of the Keys, all of the St. Lucie River and its tributaries, and Dry Tortugas National Park.
The only unregulated species found in Florida’s coastal waters is:
The answer is D- Lionfish
Of the thousands of fish species found in Florida waters, the vast majority have no specific regulations at all. But the term “unregulated” can be misunderstood because standard recreational gear requirements still apply, and there is a default bag limit established by Florida Statute for any species harvested by a recreational angler. Two fish or 100 pounds per person, per day - whichever is more.
But this bag limit does not apply to lionfish, an invasive species that have a negative impact on native wildlife and habitat. FWC encourages divers, anglers, and commercial harvesters to remove as many lionfish as possible from Florida waters. Lionfish are great table fare so harvesting them is win-win for those who remove them from the environments they threaten and then enjoy them for dinner! Learn more about Lionfish HERE.
Cover Photo By Clark Morgan, Seamore Photography