Water-Related News

Local freshwater fishing competition to round up non-native species

FORT MYERS – The Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) will host its annual Non-Native Fish Round-up for two weekends beginning Friday, April 27, and concluding May 5 at Lee County’s Lakes Regional Park.

Southwest Florida waterways are home to several non-native freshwater fish species. Many of these non-native species have a detrimental 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. The roundups are team events, with one to four anglers per team in both youth and adult categories.

April 27-28
Location: Sugden Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples
Details: Competition begins at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 27; check-in between 3-4 p.m. Saturday, April 28, with scales opening for weigh-in at 4 p.m. For children 12 and under, a non-native fishing blitz will be held 4-6 p.m. Saturday at Avalon Lake in Sugden Park.

May 4-5
Location: Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers
Details: Competition begins at 3 p.m. Friday, May 4; check-in between 3-4 p.m. Saturday, May 5, with scales opening for weigh-in at 4 p.m. For children 12 and under, a non-native fishing blitz will be held on 4-6 p.m. Saturday, May 5, within the lake at Lakes Park.

Participants must register in advance in advance at www.floridainvasives.org/southwest to compete in one or both weekends. Registration is free.

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. For more information on state regulations, visit www.myfwc.com.

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, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Lee County Parks & Recreation, Collier County Parks & Recreation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and the Naples Zoo.