Research in Action

Dedication to the future of snook and our fisheries is a non-stop effort.  Here are the latest happenings:

US Senate asks for better recreational angler data; SGF Answers the Call

On May 20, 2015, the Snook & Gamefish Foundation was asked to testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Executive Director Brett Fitzgerald was tapped to sit on a panel of experts, along with the Honorable Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Mr. Robert Beal, Executive Director, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; and Dr. Steven Murawski, Professor and Peter Betzer Endowed Chair of Biological Oceanography, University of South Florida.

Senator Rubio (FL), chair of the committee, took point in the hearing and asked direct questions about the current state of recreational data collection at the federal level in the US. Ranking member Senator Cory Booker (NJ) followed suit with the common theme that cooperation between anglers and managers needs to improve.

“Essentially, it comes down to the reality that usable recreational data is really hard to come by. Combine that with the fact that NOAA is trying hard to maintain a traditional scientific standard, and it’s no wonder that there has been impasse. But the time has come for all 50 states and the federal fishery managers to work with recreational anglers and pound out a viable solution,” Fitzgerald said.

That is precisely why SGF was asked to come to Washington and share the successes of the Angler Action Program, the only recreational fishing database owned and maintained by fishermen that has been used in state level stock assessments.

“If you fish, this is your data,” SGF Chairman Capt. Mike Readling said. “With five years of working with the State of Florida and a couple stock assessments under our belt, we’ve proven that we can work with scientists and managers to get past the barriers of data biases. With the understanding that federal fisheries work a little differently, the point is we are ready to get to work to help solve the quandary of recreational angler data.”

It would seem the U.S. Senate agrees, and Fitzgerald had an attentive audience as he told the committee members the story of the AAP, which now boasts nearly 6,000 registered users and will be providing specific data to Florida for multiple species. Maybe the better news is that NOAA seems to be receptive to building a path of partnership with recreational anglers, who by and large just want to help get the federal fishery management system right.

But Angler Action is more than just keeping track of fish. “It’s not just about counting fish for the state or the federal government,” says Pete Quasius, SGF Vice-Chair. “For one thing, it’s about recreational anglers getting credit for the fish we let go.” Pete refers to the current fishery dependent surveys NOAA relies heavily upon for fishery data. Not only are those surveys sparse relative to the fishing population, they basically count the fish in the cooler, not the fish anglers release.

According to AAP data, we have logged some 40,000 angler-hours since 2012. 80% of every fish caught in the voluntary survey is released. “Catch and release fishing accounts for the majority of fish landed. If you consider the economic value of those released fish, it makes sense that we should be credited for each and every one.” It just so happens that, at this point, release data is the most valuable subset of information for fishery managers. It also validates the consistent message of SGF and other groups that we need to take special care when releasing fish we intend to let go.

Just having the AAP system in place will mean more fish will swim in Florida’s waters. A big part of the program is the recent development of a tournament system which promotes catch-photo-release tournaments. This (Memorial) weekend, CCA Star tournament launches along the entire west coast of Florida. “Except for the hatchery raised redfish with Star tags, there is no longer a need to bring eligible fish to a weigh station for points. This means the AAP has helped to keep untold numbers of fish in Florida waters just through our partnership with this event alone,” Readling said.

In Washington, Fitzgerald was able to report to the Senate that an independent data ‘audit’ has been underway for over a year. A team of University of Florida statisticians have been comparing catch rates of the AAP to MRIP’s dockside surveys, and thus far in regions where anglers are logging fish, the data stacks up. More analysis is being conducted, “which will help SGF improve design and figure out more ways to incorporate data into stock assessments at both the state and federal level,” reported Fitzgerald.

Aside from making it clear that recreational anglers are chomping at the bit to help improve fishery timeliness and precision, Fitzgerald made other salient points in DC. His statement included future needs of data integration. “Data use needs to expand to other important aspects of angler/fish interaction, such as functional habitat mapping.” Protecting critical game fish habitat is also a major concern of SGF. AAP data can help establish which habitats are being shared by anglers, game fish, and prey species, and help get a handle of the relationship between these entities. “All of that will lead to a brighter fishing future, which is the end-game for SGF’s participation in data collection.”

SGF is dedicated to ramping up our cooperative efforts with state and federal agencies, and will continue to bring other conservation groups into the discussion to ensure that none of us lose sight of the ultimate goal.

*links to Fitzgerald's written testimony and video archives of the hearing will be made available on the SGF site as soon as available.

www.angleraction.org is the place to get started. Create a profile, download an app (we suggest iAngler-lite or one of the affiliates such as iGhoFish), and start recording your trips. Soon you will be in the "100 Club!"What started as a simple way for anglers to record their catch may help preserve the fish they covet. Sound farfetched? Maybe not.

Ryan Jiorle, a University of Florida Master’s candidate, spent nearly a year studying the impact of the Angler Action Program with it's iAngler family of apps. He believes that the staple service project of the Snook & Gamefish Foundation (SGF) could come to serve as a valuable asset in fisheries management.


The Angler Action Program allows fishermen to detail every personal fishing trip in an electronic log; iAngler and the new iAngler-lite are free mobile smart device Apps that complement the program directly. Last year, SGF and Elemental Methods worked together on a fishing tournament app,iAngler-Tournament, that lets competitive fishermen record their tournament catches in real time. Both systems were designed and have been promoted by SGF, who solicited assistance from fishery managers and scientists along the entire building process.


“At the very least I don’t know of another program that’s steamed this far ahead,” Jiorle said. “You have multiple years of data. You have a lot of users. It’s very organic - this has happened naturally. I think that’s what we like to see as scientists. We want to compare in the most natural way possible.”

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Downloading the iAngler-Tournament smartphone application

Follow these instructions and guidelines when you first download the iAngler Tournament app, and your experience should be quick, easy, and rewarding.

Using an Apple or Android mobile device, enter your app store and search for “iAngler Tournament.”*  The app is free, select and down load it onto your device. Once it is on your phone, you may open the app and register into the system.

*Note: You will also see“iAngler by Angler Action” and “iAngler Lite.” These are all part of the Angler Action family but NOT the tournament app you are looking for. Please make sure you select the iAngler Tournament app.

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Thanks to the Angler Action Program, researchers can use angler data to help map fish populations.The Snook and Gamefish Foundation’s Angler Action Program (AAP) has Reached a New Milestone.

 

For the 30,000th time, anglers have shown they are ready to contribute to a brighter fishing future. That’s how many fish the Angler Action Program (AAP) participants have logged since the most recent database upgrade in 2012. “It was perfect timing. The 30,000th fish was logged about 15 minutes before our monthly Board phone conference, so the Snook & Gamefish Foundation’s board was able to hear the news hot off the press,” said Executive Director Brett Fitzgerald.

To date, over 130 different species of fish have been logged into the system, with inshore saltwater species getting the most tallies. Snook remain the most common species targeted in the AAP logs, but spotted (speckled) sea trout are the most logged fish.

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Spotted Seatrout: Florida's inshore institution. Photo courtesy www.lagooner.com.The great Vic Dunaway once said that seatrout is not just another fine gamefish, but an institution. Upon reviewing the Angler Action Program (AAP) data in Florida since 2012, it’s easy to agree.

 

Spotted seatrout is the most caught fish by the growing fleet of AAP anglers – a group of sportsmen and women who are going to lead recreational fishing to a brighter future. Since 2012 nearly 1000 seatrout-directed trips have been logged, those trips averaging better than 3 hours per trip and anglers catching 1.75 fish per hour. That’s a good mess of trout!


As you likely know, Florida manages seatrout as a slot fishery – keeper fish must measure more than 15 inches and less than 20. There is an exception in that each angler is allowed to keep one lunker – your stringer can have one over-20 fish. Bag limits range from 4 to 6 fish, depending on your zone (see FWC’s easy to read details here). No matter what zone you fish, that’s a pretty generous limit, especially considering the point that trout don’t freeze all that well. Fantastic fresh – really one of the best; frozen… not so much.


Reading statistics and number charts isn’t for everyone. Those that really get off on that kind of thing probably don’t make up the largest segment of the fishing community. But often there is a story in the numbers, and sometimes that story can slap you upside the head with unstated exclamation points. Our trout numbers, I think, are pretty darned interesting.  You’ll see that the AAP catch data can reveal some unexpected trends, and over time some powerful statements about the fisheries involved.

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Angler Action data from Jan 2012 to present shows some neat trends. If you log your fishing trips into the AAP, you are a part of the solution. If you don't, today is a great day to start! Visit www.angleraction.org to open your free account.


New SGF Director Eric Gates shows off Florida's most logged fish: Spotted Sea Trout.The Angler Action Program (AAP) has been cranking out fishing data for over three years now. In that short amount of time a few huge milestones have been met and many more are sure to follow. Here are a few AAP tidbits you might find interesting.

1. Spotted Sea Trout is the most logged fish in the AAP. Makes sense as "specks" are one of the most targeted fish throughout the Gulf of Mexico. (There are more snook directed trips, but more trout have been logged. A more detailed report on trout data is in the works!)

2. AAP data has already been used in two Florida stock assessments. Those were for snook, our very first species targeted. One was the scheduled assessment in 2011, then again in the interim assessment as FWRI scientists decided to re-open Florida's west coast this fall.

3. Zero-catch trips are important! Logging trips when you don't catch anything is just as important as logging your best days. When it comes to research, "zero is a number," so log 'em all.

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ron taylor
"Fishermen have bemoaned the quantity and quality of fishing data used in stock assessments. Now they have a real voice in contributing to fisheries management." Ron Taylor, FWRI

What Fishermen need to know about how to make a change....

Thanks to the efforts of many anglers logging their accurate catch info in Angler Action since 2010, they are developing a growing voice in how fisheries are managed. That's HUGE!!

Ever since fish species that occur in Florida’s waters were mandated to be managed with stock assessments, state and federal agencies have attempted to increase the amount and accuracy of catch and harvest data.

Even though the entire amount of data for some popular species was small, great effort was made by fishery management staff to carefully enact management regulations (fishing rules),  based on the available data.

read more - R.Taylor

fishing is local
What are the biggest issues affecting your catch?
Fishing issues in Charlotte Harbor and Sarasota Bay are the focus of angler-based study

West Central FL Anglers have a chance to break new ground in a pioneering study being launched by UF Scientists this week.

Attend one of the first StakeHolder Workshops to explore:
1) What are the biggest issues in your local fisheries?
2) How could your involvement improve local fisheries management?

The project will look at how local perspectives, issues, fishery and habitat data vary from those of the region or state, and explore how local input could improve fishery management outcomes.

UF scientists Dr. Kai Lorenzen and Julianne Struve are heading the study, undertaken in partnership with Mote Marine and the Angler Action Program of Snook & Gamefish Foundation..   Three kick off meetings are set for the coming week, and all are scheduled for 6pm.


How could your involvement improve local fisheries management outcomes?
Thurs June 20 - Fort Myers (Rutenberg Park)
Tues June 25 - Sarasota (Mote Marine Lab)
Wed June 26 Punta Gorda (Lashley Marina)

For more info, contact Chelsey Crandall, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida; Phone 813-690 2334; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The project website is: http://www.aquaticresources.org/spatial.html

To start logging your catch data for study in the project, just note your location with GPS, or the words Sarasota or Charlotte Harbor  when you record your fishing trip on :   www.angleraction.org

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Current findings yield a fresh view of snook populations

The FWC commission met Wednesday, June 12 in Lakeland and determined, among other things, that snook are ready to open for harvest on Florida’s west coast.

 Recent historyMichael Teixidor logged this Everglades City snook into the AAP in April 2012. Snook growth rates suggest this fish lived through the 2010 cold snap.

It’s common knowledge to most of us that the winter of 2010 had quite an impact on Florida’s warm water fish, especially snook. The east coast population of snook came through relatively unharmed, but the west coast snook got hammered, especially way down south in the ‘glades and 10,000 Islands area.

The snook fishery across the entire state was shut down from harvest so biologists could assess just how hard the population was hit. After a year, it was determined that the east coast could handle an open season while the west coast still appeared to be quite sparse. Consequently, as we all know, the west coast had remained closed since 2010. The Commission has decided that the closure will expire this fall. 

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 Angler Action Data Review:AAP user "Sailor_jerry" shows a Lee County redfish logged into the AAP.

A tale of Two Reds

As the Angler Action Program steams into its fourth year, the data trends are starting to yield interesting numbers. Your AAP support team at SGF will take periodic looks at trends that you might find interesting.

Today you will see an interesting view of two Florida fisheries that have controversial periods of fishery management: redfish and red snapper.

Florida inshore anglers are currently enjoying a nice redfish trend – increased bag limits. Anglers in the south portion of the state have a daily bag limit of one fish, and the two northerly regions can harvest 2 fish per day throughout the year. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Over the past couple decades, bag limits have relaxed for a few reasons – the inshore net ban and no commercial fishery pressure are a couple that come to mind.

Log YOUR fishing trips at www.angleraction.org

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Rick Roberts - teaching iAngler to Jack H
All sizes of many species can be logged in Angler Action.org. Data is stored and available to individual anglers and qualified science partners.

The Door Has Opened

Snook and Game Fish Foundation Executive Director Rick Roberts was one of a few recreational anglers selected nationwide to be invited to attend the “Managing our Nations Fisheries 2013 Conference,” held last week in Washington DC. 

 Because SGF is recognized as being on the front-lines of cooperative research, the organization was chosen to participate in discussions of ways to improve management of marine fisheries, including more and better data.

Rick provided the following update: 

Last week’s conference was marked by an historic acknowledgment by leaders including NOAA Assistant Administrator, Eric Schwaab, that recreational angler data is needed. The door has opened.  Now it's up to anglers to go fishing and log their catch!

More about "Managing Our Nations Fisheries Conference"

More Angler Action info:

Our Work Cut out for Us - User Survey Results

Angler Action featured in FWC Saltwater Fishing Regs  article

Getting Started  http://angleraction.org/angleraction/static/gettingstarted.gsp

FAQ and Resources http://angleraction.org/angleraction/resource/list

http://www.snookfoundation.org/data.html

 

 

angler action loggers making an impact
In increasing numbers, anglers are giving back to the resource by capturing needed fish info. photo credit: Evan Jones.
Fisheries Innovation Fund will further Angler Action's technical and communications advances.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced that is awarding funds to the Snook and Gamefish Foundation for the purpose of enhancing the Angler Action Program (AAP), including it's mobile iAngler apps.

Over the last year Angler Action participants recorded catch facts from 3,244 anglers who logged 13,919 fish in Florida alone.     Their trips records are available for their personal use in an electronic log,  while critical data regarding fish length and numbers are shared with fishery scientists.  Recreational Anglers and science partners alike give continuing feedback for needed improvements.  Based on their combined input the program is evolving to better meet the needs of both user groups.

The NFWF grant will make it possible to add programing that will speed the process of  recording data, thus limiting the time fish stay out of the water while capturing more important information.  The grant also provides for innovations to broaden the user base and outreach.  Program adaptations to accommodate more states and types of fishing and more user devices are planned. The Fisheries Innovation Fund Award from NFWF will provide $80,000. SGF will secure matching funds from other sources to complete this project.

According to studies by the American Sportfishing Associatoin, recreational anglers only take 2% of the marine fish harvest but contribute 50% of the marine fishing economy. Recreational Anglers also create beneficial environmental impacts by giving back to the resource, through programs like Angler Action.  Anglers who log their catch with iAngler/Angler Action are increasing the effective collection of useful data for stock assessment:  www.angleraction.org

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations Andy McCurdy! With a single ticket donation at A very happy winner, Andy sits in his new skiff for the very first time.a West Marine grand opening in Ft. Myers, Andy is now the owner of a truly one-of-a-kind David Gause Built 17' skiff. 

On the afternoon of Sunday Feb 17, Andy was in his shop doing 'weekend work' when his phone rang. "I didn't recognize the number, so I let it go to voice mail. Then I saw the text that came right after the call, so I listened to the message." He called back to SGF Managing Director Brett Fitzgerald's cell, who confirmed the amazing news. Indeed, Andy had won the skiff of a lifetime.

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Rob Peterson snook catch
 Winner of the Angler Action User Survey Prize Giveaway, Robby Peterson fishes SW Florida. He won an Orvis Fly Rod and Reel when his name was chosen from survey participants. (see results below)
Anglers Shaping the Future of Fishing

Anglers have something vital to contribute to our sport:  the facts of their fishing trips.  The Angler Action Program (AAP) is starting its fourth year as an evolving tool for capturing recreational catch data.   The trip and catch information entered by anglers becomes a private log, but most importantly is being put to use by fishery scientists.  The AAP's standardized method of data collection, developed through team work between fishers and biologists, makes this possible. 

Each year, the program has improved based on input from both anglers and fishery researchers.  In 2012, with support from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Norcross Foundation, we established angleraction.org (the permanent online portal for entering catch records), and iAngler free phone apps which let you add fish info from your smartphone, ipad, or tablet.   Your feedback, ideas and resources are the driving force for continued improvement.   We welcome your feedback at any time through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Here is where we are today and what we hope to achieve in the year ahead.

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Old salts are learning new tricks. Rick Roberts' logged this spotted sea trout.  Photo credit: Ron Presley

Historically, recreational anglers have not considered themselves data collectors unless it was for their personal use. Data collection consisted mainly of a fishing log that kept track of what, when, where, why, and how. Information like date, location, weather conditions, fish caught, and baits used were all recorded. The data could be retrieved later to help them in their quest to catch that trophy fish.  

That stereotype is changing with the recognized need for new and improved data to be used in the science of fishery management. Recreational anglers are beginning to realize that they can make a significant contribution to science through personal data collection and submission.

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Thanks for taking a minute - your feedback will help shape usability of the Angler Action program.

 

Take Survey

dark stormwater discharge marches down the coast from st lucie river
Stormwater discharge from Lake Okeechobee darkens the water off St. Lucie beaches.
This past year, heavy rain events once again triggered stormwater discharges that impacted anglers all around South Florida. Many of our members have expressed concern, fear or anger regarding water quality issues related to these discharges.
 
We at the SGF feel anglers should be involved in the process of helping to correct the current system of water management. We also feel the first step towards that end is making sure we all have a solid understanding of how the process works, from raindrop to spillway.
 
Please take our very brief survey, and get a chance to win a kayak fishing trip.. It will help us understand what aspects of this very complicated issue we should focus on as we continue to bridge the gap between angler and managers of our waters and fisheries.

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Print

Summer's End Derby Wrap
Congratulations Anglers!  1886 fish caught in the Summer's End Derby (1375 released),  Thanks to sponsors Mosquito Creek Outdoors and World of Beer!

See some of the final winners and results below -- Keep entering your fishing trips in Angleraction.org. Here are some of your catches:



See Winners

Allen Johnson smallest snook logged
One of 643 fish logged in Anglers Count! Derby (photo: Allen Johnson)
Notes from a fantastic contest and party.

June 2012 was a huge month for fishery data collection, and the Anglers Count! Derby led the charge.

A fleet of anglers all along Florida’s east coast entered the derby and logged their catches for the purpose of contributing to a better fishery. After the month-long event completed and the final numbers were tallied (hundreds of fish, thousands of fishing hours), the recognition bash at River Palms Fish Camp and Resort in Jensen Beach was a fantastic success

 

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iAngler by AnglerAction, Free new phone app

        iAngler by Angler Action, Free new app

Fishery data collection now accomplished by Smartphone

A buzz word in fisheries management issues is “good science.” Good Science, however, will only occur if there is good data. The Angler Action Program (AAP) was created by the Snook and Gamefish Foundation (SGF), in partnership with FWC Marine Fisheries Management, to get anglers involved with science-based fishery management.

What started out as a collection process for a single species, the snook, expanded to redfish and spotted seatrout, tarpon, bonefish, permit. Now, with anglers help, the program is collecting data on 100 inshore and offshore species.

 The reasoning behind creating the program was explained by Rick Roberts, Executive Director of SGF. "With the threat of longstanding fishing closures, the time was right for recreational anglers at large to stop being viewed as the problem.” A program was needed to bring recreational anglers into the process.

 In its infancy the program was a combination of an on-the-water data collection form and online logbook. Anglers recorded timely catch data on the form and then use their computer to upload it to the collection site.
 
While the form and computer upload ability still exists, anglers now have the option of using state of the art technology for recording catch data. Roberts explains, “The iAngler phone apps are another step in productive communications between recreational anglers and fishery managers.”

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Capt. Jeremy Neff
Capt. Jeremy Neff - Spotted Sea Trout logged

As the sun was breaking above the horizon the bite suddenly turned on…every cast was followed by a quick flash exploding in that feeling we love:  “Fish On!”   In fact,  one on after another...  Every fish in this bunch was a short.  None were keepers.   We could have caught as many as we wanted - they would hit cast after cast, but we decided to move on…

The focus of sport fishing is centered on catching nice big fish, the bigger the better. And for many the opportunity of taking a few fish home for the frying pan is part of the adventure.  That’s the recreational fishing game.  

But for Fishery Managers the goal of the game is to keep fish populations in balance. For them, the small ones are just as important as the giants.  Their goal is accomplished by studying fisheries and setting slots, limits and seasons, thus limiting impacts of fishing to levels that  whole fish populations can sustain.

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Making your Fishing Trip Count

After you log in at www.angleraction.org, record your fishing trips as often as possible. Once you start this positive habit, you'll find many rewards!

Tips for getting started, and Opportunities to win prizes:

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Black Grouper, found on deep and shallow reefs, brought in  on Last MangoCharter Boat

If you fish off St. Lucie County,  from Ft. Pierce to Hutchison Island,  you can now take part in the Angler Action - St.Lucie Artificial Reef Project. 

Practice logging your catch on AnglerAction.org, whenever you fish.  And when you visit any of St. Lucie's plentiful artificial reefs,  select  "St. Lucie Artifical Reefs Project" from the trip screen.

A list of artifical reefs and their locations is provided below.


"We want to gain understanding of the interplay between offshore and inshore reefs," said James Oppenborn, St. Lucie County's Coastal Resources Supervisor.  "Our information thus far shows many species, including juveniles, are found on both types of reefs."  (see charts: inshore or  offshore).

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angler action home page
(Click Image To Enlarge)New ways to log on AnglerAction.org start April 1st! 

April marks the start of  Angler Action's 3rd year of recording your fishing trip and catch information.

The progress of the program has been impressive and Anglers can look forward to great rewards, starting with a personalized new online log [angleraction.org] April 1st, and free phone apps for both iphone and android platforms (available in May)

Check out these fisherman-friendly features:

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