License Free Saltwater Fishing This Weekend

For something as simple as fishing from the beach, bureaucracy has created a maze of options, requirements and exemptions that bedazzle my senses.

Four rods per person; commercial or recreational?

Four rods per person; commercial or recreational?

I get the question quite often from guests at the B&B, if fishing on the shoreline is allowed without a license, so with the innocence of a newborn child I click on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and immediately get overwhelmed by the enormousness of the list of licenses, exceptions and options. Something as simple as sticking a rod and reel in the sand has apparently enticed a bunch of lawmakers to justify their existence with the creation of paperwork that annually must kill a rain forest.
Not only did they see fit to separate commercial fishing from recreational fishing, they also managed to separate locations, fish species, a distinction list for lobsters and other crustaceans, whether you’re on anything that can be called a vessel or not with a sub-division of recreational and commercial, freshwater and saltwater licenses, residents and non-resident licenses, as well as special interest groups such as disabled and military licenses, closing with a half a dozen options for a day, a week a month, a year, five years or a lifetime. Actually the page header offers a banner that sells: Invest in Florida’s Future. Buy a 5-year license.

I’m content not to be a fishing fanatic, but I decided for the benefit of my guests to at least find an answer the question: “Do I need a license or not”?

Again I get overwhelmed by a host of options longer than a whale’s tail so if you’re interested here is the link http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/do-i-need-a-license/. After all I only want to know if my guests can grab a bucket and rod and reel and sit in the breakers for a couple of hours of fun without having to jump through hoops to get a license.
This page creates the assumption that you need a license for any hook you cast into a Florida water but let me give you a taste of the Exemptions:
You do not need a recreational hunting, freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing license or a *Florida waterfowl, migratory bird, deer, turkey, snook, spiny lobster, archery season, crossbow season, muzzleloading season permit or *management area permit if…
This if results in a mere 8 bullet point exemptions.

However the exemption list continues with 7 exemptions for freshwater fishing, followed by yet another additional 9 exemptions pertaining to saltwater fishing, snook permits and spiny lobster permits, which carries an entirely different set of requirements and rules.

Finally at the end of the page after wrestling for an hour with the useless stupidity of a bureaucracy I never knew about (remember I’m not a fisherman), a paragraph announces:
Shoreline Saltwater Fishing License.

I gave you the text of this paragraph in its entirety for a taste of the confusion it created in me: Residents who are fishing for a saltwater species (other than mullet in fresh water) from land or from a structure fixed to the land are required to have a no-cost saltwater shoreline fishing license unless they have a regular saltwater fishing license or are exempt.

Ignoring the built-in exemptions in this paragraph, I have merely two questions left:
1. If this pertains to residents, how about visitors?
2. Great that it seems to be a no-cost license, now how do I get one?

So my next step is to find a navigation button that says: Visitor Licenses.
And here we go again (http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/visitors/) Numerous options and exemptions and somewhere in the middle of it all it says: “Nonresidents must purchase a 3-day, 7-day or annual nonresident saltwater fishing license when saltwater fishing from the shore or a pier, bridge or jetty attached to the shore unless fishing on a pier with a pier license.”

Yes we’re getting closer to the final answer if guests in a beachfront b&b can stand in the shoreline and fish with or without a license. At least that’s what the impression is. But immediately it gets utterly confusing and 3 hours of searching later I find in the FAQ the following answer to a question that reads: Do nonresident saltwater anglers qualify for the shoreline license?

And the Answer is: No.

The shoreline saltwater fishing license is available to Florida residents only. Nonresident saltwater anglers must purchase a regular nonresident saltwater fishing license at $17 for three days, $30 for seven days or $47 for one year, regardless of whether they fish from shore or a vessel. These prices include administrative fees, but handling fees are additional.

I won’t bore you with a thousand and one other possibilities this website confuses you with and simply tell you that this weekend Floridians and visitors will be able to fish without a saltwater recreational fishing license on June 7 and 8 and freshwater recreational fishing license on June 14 and 15.

So when Florida Governor Scott made the cushy, cozy statement a couple of days ago that: “The designated license-free fishing days are a great opportunity for Floridians to celebrate summer with their families and loved ones, to enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors, cast a line and get hooked on fishing,” he reminded me of Fernandina Beach commissioners wasting commission meetings on chicken pens and other mind numbing crap. What’s wrong with our “leaders” and the endless bureaucracy we have created.
Don’t they have more important issues on their plates.
I am a bit tired and discouraged by grandstanding statements from Gov. Scott like “Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World and fishing is an economic engine for our state, providing jobs from Pensacola to the Keys”.  Apparently he has seen little of the world or he simply does not question the factual research of his speech writers.

In any case this weekend, June 6 and 7 you can fish in saltwater without the need for a license and next weekend it’s license free fishing for freshwater fishing.

Other days this year are the first Saturday in September (Sept. 6, 2014) and the first Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29, 2014) designated for license-free saltwater fishing days, and the first Saturday and Sunday in April (April 4-5, 2015) have been designated a license-free freshwater fishing weekend. All bag limits, seasons and size restrictions apply on these dates.

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