By Amanda Nalley
Today’s column begins with a question and ends with a challenge: Do you know what a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Saltwater Grand Slam is? If not, you are missing out on an exciting opportunity.
Last month, we rolled out nine new Saltwater Grand Slams and what we found was, while many people knew what the concept meant, almost everyone had their own definition. Some argued that if it had the word “grand” in the title, it had to include exactly four species (because, you know, hitting a grand slam in baseball means getting four runs in). And some indicated that grand slams were specific to certain regions of the state, and that you had to catch the slam while fishing in that specific region to qualify. Several others listed slams they had grown up with that may or may not be on our list.
I’m here today to set some of these misconceptions straight and to challenge you to try your hand at an FWC Saltwater Grand Slam.
An FWC Saltwater Grand Slam challenges anglers to catch three specific fish species in a 24-hour period. While the title “grand” can sometimes indicate a challenge of catching four different species, the FWC grand slams only require three. Consider yourself lucky that we went easy on you… this time.
While some slams might be regional, our slams can be achieved by anyone, any age, anywhere across Florida. The only thing that might limit them from being caught in a specific area is if one of the three listed species cannot be found in your area. Of course, that is all the more reason for someone to hitch up the trailer to the truck and take a road trip!
And finally, while we did go from four slams to nine, we may not have included some of your personal favorites. Maybe you were a fan of one of our older slams, or maybe there is a local one you’ve always known about. Or, you may have tried for another organization’s grand slam. The FWC also has freshwater slams and, even though we run our Slam program through them, the International Game Fish Association has its own set of slams that are different from the FWC slams. Our slams may not be the ones you grew up with, but we carefully selected our challenges to be just that, a new and exciting experience for you. After all, the goal is to entice you to learn more about Florida’s vast recreational fishing opportunities.
Ready for the challenge? Catch and submit one of these Grand Slams and receive a certificate signed by both the executive director of the FWC and the president of the International Game Fish Association, as well as a colorful shirt in recognition of your achievement.
The new Grand Slams include:
Inshore Grand Slam: red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder
Family Slam: any three fish in the same family (example: gag, red grouper, black grouper.
Blue Water Slam: dolphinfish, sailfish, wahoo
Florida Grand Slam: permit, tarpon, bonefish
Shoreline Slam: sheepshead, kingfish (whiting), Florida pompano
Reefs and Rubble Slam: black sea bass, gag, gray triggerfish
Nearshore Slam: cobia, tripletail, king mackerel
Bay and Estuary Slam: gray (mangrove) snapper, snook, Spanish mackerel
Small Fry Slam (specifically for children 15 and under): pinfish, grunt, catfish
To submit your Grand Slam, visit our MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Angler Recognition,” then click on “Apply Today” under the Grand Slam section and submit your entry to the IGFA address at the bottom of the form. Persons of all ages can apply for any of the slams listed, with the exception of the Small Fry Slam, which is limited to children 15 and under.
What do we need from you?
Please be able to provide the names of the species caught, an estimated size in length, the amount of time it took you to get the fish to the boat (fight time), what you caught them with and the name and contact information of a witness.
Do you need to submit a photo?
Yes, so make sure to have that camera ready and at hand. Anglers who submit photos with the application may also be recognized on MyFWC.com, Facebook or even the Saltwater Regulations publication. Make sure you are using proper fish handling techniques in your photograph or else we won’t be able to use it.
Do you need to keep your catch?
No. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible, and, actually, we encourage you to release your catches alive.
Have questions? Email AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com.
This spring, the FWC will also unveil two more new Saltwater Angler Recognition programs, including the Saltwater Life List (like a birding life list, but for fish) and our Reel Big Fish program (rewarding you for your exceptional catches).
Don’t forget to record all of your catches on the iAngler phone app or at snookfoundation.org. Share your photos, stories and comments with us at Saltwater@MyFWC.com or visit our Ethical Angler page by going to MyFWC.com/Fishing and selecting “Saltwater” then “Ethical Angler Photo Recognition Program” at the bottom of that page.
“Gone Coastal” is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection, call 850-487-0554 or email Saltwater@MyFWC.com.