Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified a new state record jaguar guapote, weighing 2.78 pounds and measuring 16.7 inches long, caught by 14-year-old angler Jerry Martin from Miami. Martin was thrilled to catch his jaguar guapote in the Snapper Creek Canal (C-2) with live bait.
“When I caught it, I freaked out,” said Martin. “I was excited because I knew it could be a state record.”
Martin has never targeted jaguar guapote before, instead fishing most often for largemouth bass and peacock bass.
“It was an accident to catch the state record jaguar [guapote], but now I’m planning to start fishing for more records,” he said.
Jaguar guapote are primarily known to exist in the urban canal systems of southeast Florida, ranging as far north as West Palm Beach. The species was first reported in 1992 from a photograph of two specimens caught in a farm pond near Miami Canal. The jaguar guapote was made eligible for state record status in 2012, and this is the first confirmed record for this species.
Jaguar guapote is one of 34 nonnative freshwater fish species that have become established in Florida. The FWC strongly encourages anglers to catch, keep and eat nonnative fish (except legally-introduced peacock bass and triploid grass carp), as many nonnative fishes provide excellent table fare. In addition, releasing fish from aquariums or moving them between water systems is illegal and could produce detrimental effects.
To properly certify a new Florida state record, an FWC biologist must identify the fish species and witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check the current state records at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/Contact by clicking on “Contact Regional Offices.”
The FWC recognizes other memorable freshwater catches through its Big Catch program, which provides certificates commemorating trophy catches of 33 different freshwater species. Largemouth bass catches are recognized by the TrophyCatch program, which is a citizen-science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier.