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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

CCA of Florida/Duke Energy fish restocking efforts!

The Redfish restocking efforts by our good friends at the CCA of Florida and their partners at the Duke Energy Mariculture Center are ongoing. Still, it does not seem to get the exposure it deserves, so we thought some extra coverage here on "The Nation" would help and be part of our ongoing series of articles that fall under our tagline of "No Fish/No Florida!"

This program aims to help replenish Redfish populations, which have been depleted for many reasons—mostly water quality and loss of nursery habitat due to our ever-growing population and coastal development. In many locations in Florida, we have lost many acres of protective Mangroves (oyster trees, as we old guys call them) and seagrass coverage over the years, which is a large part of their nursery.

Captain Leiza CCA of Florida

CCA of Florida and Duke Energy are hatching, growing, and releasing juvenile Redfish. They are now expanding in releases to our most popular coastal gamefish, Seatrout, and some Snook back into their natural habitats to help bolster their numbers at the same time.

Seatrout soon to be released

This plays an ever-growing role in helping to sustain inshore gamefish populations. Combined with other CCA of Florida projects like building oyster beds and planting mangroves, all aimed at helping improve and maintain the health of our coastal ecosystems with some of our more iconic game fish here in Florida and is indeed part of our overall economic health as a State, which you can read more about by clicking here.

Some Redfish ready to be released

The center started as an environmental compliance requirement for Duke Energy to operate their nearby power plants. As reported, up to 100,000 Redfish and Spotted Seatrout are raised yearly and released into the waters near the Gulf of Mexico to help support our year-round fishing. The Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Citrus County is a multi-species hatchery and, from our research, has cultivated and released more than 4.1 million fish and crustaceans since 1991, becoming one of Florida's most successful marine-stocking programs!

Here is a quick video on the original design intent and the current day-to-day operations of the Duke Energy Mariculture Center.

Another example, in partnership with the Duke Energy Mariculture Center, the CCA of Florida recently released an 8,000 hatchery-reared juvenile Redfish (averaging four to five inches long) in Levy County. And though I suspect these are dated overall numbers by now, they have released nearly 280,000 redfish along Florida’s East and West Coasts. 👍

So why all the effort, you ask?

Recent Hurricanes (some major in their impacts)

Post Hurricane Ian Pine Island

Combined with other significant die-off events, such as the natural but suspected fueled to an even greater extent now, outbreaks of red tide in ­southwest Florida combined with algae blooms on the east coast, the need to restock affected fish populations has been demonstrated.

Some of these areas in SWFL receive very high nutrient loads of fresh water while we are starving; other areas, like Florida Bay of freshwater from The Glades, have just taken their toll on gamefish populations.

When looked upon from the purely economic value that Recreational Fishing alone brings to our Great State. Anything to help support those stocks and the substantial related financial importance till this ongoing water quality can be addressed is needed! You can read more about how vital (the only way to get some elected official's attention, unfortunately) its monetary value is by clicking Here.

Another educational video is below on growing and placing back into our ecosystems: these great gamefish and Eel grass back into our coastal waters by Duke Energy to help give you a size and scope of that operation.

We appreciate these efforts and all the volunteer man (and woman) hours put into these efforts to help supplement and support our coastal ecosystem around our Great State, and we hope you will join us in helping to spread the word about these efforts! 😎

What we would like to see (more extensive data collection)

  1. From my many years in Service and Technical Support management, though numbers do not necessarily tell the entire story per se, I am a metrics guy! I would like to see all these fish receive simple for that respective year, non-serialized tags (punch and go) asking anglers to record the size and location of those caught. This way, we are better measuring program effectiveness and securing some ROI (Return on Investment) numbers instead of (maybe) just raising and turning loose a bunch of pond-raised Flipper Chow... 😉

2. Following the above, recruitment numbers should start to indicate what actual release size is the most effective. The theory (as stated, maybe assumed) is that releasing them at a larger X size helps ensure greater survivability. This may be true, but this is not how Mother Nature (Father God, as my Mother taught me) operates in rebuilding stocks. Large numbers of small fry are released, all becoming a huge numbers game. Again, we (may) start to see larger numbers of reported hatchery-raised fish caught and reported back at, say, the 3-inch size instead of 5, meaning for the same effort and resources spent, even more, might be grown and released during the same growing cycle! 😃

What can you do to help?

  1. As Captain (Brother) Mike Anderson and I discussed in our podcast, Episode #7, we ask that you join the CCA of Florida by clicking Here, if nothing else, to help with headcount! Strength in numbers also applies to elected officials who help steer funding for programs critical to one of Florida's most significant economic drivers!

2. To directly help with these restocking efforts, please visit and review these respective pages...

  • The Redfish Restocking Initiative page can be found by clicking Here.

  • And the Adopt-A-Redfish page is found by clicking Here.

3. I suspect that our inshore fish are seeing greater fishing pressure due to ever-increasing fuel costs and other economic factors. Possible more fishing pressure is seen on Redfish, Sea Trout, and other coastal species nowadays since those who, before, would take trips offshore to target other species can no longer afford or "choose" to fill up the boat with $5.00 plus a gallon of fuel and then burn $500.00 or more of it in a weekend so they can run offshore and tangle with our great Offshore and Pelagic fish in those now (very expensive to reach) waters! This contributing factor, I feel, is being overlooked by some when managing our coastal fish stocks. As such, we must care for those caught and released to live and fight another day. One straightforward way is using barbless hooks, so press all those barbs down so you can roll it quickly from the fish's mouth, and you (also) might be grateful for the same if you get one hung into yourself or your fishing partner! 😁

4. Close the Commercial take of Sea Trout! You can read more about that subject in our article about Sea Trout by clicking Here. You can also hear my chat with Captain Mike about this subject on a radio chat, which you may find interesting on this quick link from our YouTube channel.

In closing, I would like to personally thank the CCA of Florida for allowing the use of some of their photography to help cover this and supporting subjects! Captain Leiza Fitzgerald has always been gracious in helping me find the information to help spread the message, and we are looking forward to having her on a show (hopefully soon) to cover their important work! As well as covering other topics and projects in the future with their help.

CCA of Florida fish release

In the meantime,

We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

  • Our main podcast page works well for your mobile devices since it will stream (or download) right on your phone/tablet. It can be found by clicking Here.

  • Or our new Media section that we created with our latest website release, where you can hear all of our Podcasts, Sound Bites, and Flats Nation Updates all in one listing found by clicking Here:

  • Plus, we have some new clothing and items in our store that you can review and order by clicking here.

Flats Nation Performance Hoodie

And we love this tagline of No Fish/No Florida!

So much so that we created Tee Shirts and other items to help bring more exposure to this growing effort, and you can view and order your own to wear at meetings or just around your home or town by clicking Here!

No Fish/No Florida Tee Shirts

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Dave and the Team

Spanish Invite

English invite


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