FWC Press Release

Contact: Kelly Gamble (FWC), (850) 773-2631
Bill Cleckley (Water Management District), (850) 539-5999

The public is invited to the grand opening of the Special-Opportunity Fishing Program on the Fitzhugh Carter Tract of Econfina Creek Wildlife Management Area in south Washington County May 17.

The grand opening will be from 5-7 p.m. The Northwest Florida Water Management District, owner of the 2,155-acre tract, will host a discussion of the program and conduct tours of the area.

Beginning May 18, three of the area’s lakes will be open to limited fishing. Managers will open Dry Pond, Black Pond and Deep Edge Pond Friday through Monday each week. Due to the prolonged drought, other water bodies on the property will not be open to fishing until water levels return to normal. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working with the water management district to provide limited fishing and hunting on the area.

For the first several weeks, it’ll be bank fishing only, according to Kelly Gamble, FWC wildlife biologist. She said eight 14-foot aluminum boats are on order and should be available by June 1.

Gamble said a limit of 16 anglers will be allowed to fish the area each day. They can fish from the bank or use the eight boats provided. Anglers can reserve five of the boats by calling (850) 773-2631; three boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No personal boats are allowed due to concerns about potential introduction of nonnative aquatic plants.

The water management district purchased the Fitzhugh Carter Tract in 2003 as a mitigation site. The district is protecting wetland habitats and restoring the upland portions of the property to longleaf pine and wiregrass habitat. To prepare the area for public use and management, the district has made substantial improvements on the area’s roads and water crossings by layering them with crushed rock and installing three bridges and two bridge culverts.