Fishing competition to roundup non-native species in local freshwater bodies
The Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area will host its annual Non-Native Fish Round-up over the course of two weekends beginning April 27.
Southwest Florida waterways are home to several non-native freshwater fish species. Many of them have a negative impact on the health and populations of the region’s native fish communities. The roundup is intended to raise awareness about the harmful effects of releasing non-native fish species into local waters and to collect data about non-native fish distribution to assist wildlife management professionals with efforts to control these species.
The competition is split into two separate events in Fort Myers and Naples.
Groups of up to four individuals qualify as a team, in both youth and adult categories.
– April 27-28: Sugden Park, at 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples
The competition begins April 27 at 3 p.m.; check-in on April 28 from 3 to 4 p.m., with scales opening for weigh-in at 4 p.m. For children 12 and under, a non-native fishing blitz will be held on April 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Avalon Lake in Sugden Park.
– May 4-5: Lakes Park, at 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers
The competition begins May 4 at 3 p.m.; check-in on May 5 from 3 to 4 p.m., with scales opening for weigh-in at 4 p.m. For children 12 and under, a non-native fishing blitz will be held on May 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. within the lake at Lakes Park.
Participants may register to compete in one or both weekends; there is no cost to register.
Fishing during the competition is permitted in all legal freshwater fishing areas in Southwest Florida, including Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Participants must follow all state and federal fishing regulations.
Prizes will be awarded each weekend for largest non-native fish and most weight of total non-native fish caught. Additionally, a grand slam prize will be awarded to one adult angler and one youth angler who reel in the most diverse group of non-native species from either weekend.
The event is co-sponsored by the Southwest Florida CISMA, UF/IFAS Extension, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, Collier County Parks and Recreation Department, Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Naples Zoo.
Participants must register in advance online.
To register and for more information, visit www.floridainvasives.org/southwest.