When it comes to fishing, I try to incorporate the use of smart phone apps to try and gain an edge over my quarry (see “Apps For Fishing”). Like other tools in our tackle boxes, there is always something new; I recently downloaded “Fish Rules”, a free application that could keep anglers out of trouble.
The idea seems simple enough: provide a constantly updated set of regulations for anglers, based on their location. This feature is what I checked first. I opened the app and it read my location. Then a list of fish appeared. Each name was a clickable link. I chose redfish, and a detailed identification picture of a red popped up. Under the picture was regulatory information such as bag limit, minimum and maximum size, and seasons. It also listed prohibited actions, and even includes information such as edibility. The app had 149 entries for my location, including not so common species like live rock, fire coral, and sea fans. Theoretically, if I used the app in a different location, it would have a different set of regulations - like snook being out of season on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but in season on the Atlantic side. According to their website, Fish Rules includes saltwater fishing regulations for federal and state waters in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas.
Another feature of the application is the Fish Log. This allows anglers to photo and log their catches, and even post them online. But this feature also has other more important uses than bragging. When your catch is logged in, the location, time, and date are saved, thereby providing you with a personalized look at your fishing and success patterns. This feature also allows the user to add notes and a map to the individual logs.
The Dashboard feature offers a medley of the usual choices. You can sign up for a Fish Rules account, log in to Facebook, update info, and offer feedback. There is one choice on the Dashboard that piqued my interest - the licenses and permits selection. In this intriguing area, you can enter the state and type of license you have, along with the license number and any stamps you paid for. You can enter multiple licenses and access them easily. This is convenient, but in no way replaces the need to have your license with you, as according to FWC’s website, “A fishing or hunting license is required to be with you when you are engaged the licensed activity.”
Fish Rules isn’t perfect. It does not have information for freshwater species or regulations, but it doesn’t claim to. It does seem to cover all of the saltwater species I can think of. The information it provides can be crucial when making a decision to keep a fish and can free you of the embarrassment of paying a steep fine or possible arrest. Remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and Fish Rules can help keep you safe.