Longtime Jupiter fishing buddies Albrey Arrington and Rick Blalock were pursuing their favorite sport one day, consulting a laminated sheet of complicated fishing regulations to see what they could keep or would have to throw back.
Wading through lines of text about seasons, sizes and bag limits and variations between state and federal regulations led to a “Eureka!” moment for the two anglers.
“This is something an iPhone could really simplify,” Blalock, a software architect, said.
Blalock and Arrington — a fisheries scientist who runs the Loxahatchee River District — worked nine months to develop “Fish Rules App” — a guide to saltwater recreational fishing regulations available for 99 cents at the App Store. They rolled it out last spring.
“It’s efficient, at-a-glance kind of information,” Arrington said.
Using the iPhone’s GPS and calendar functions, anglers instantly can find the regulations and seasons for most saltwater species from North Carolina through Texas, in federal or state waters. The app even works offshore where there may not be a cellular signal. And it includes illustrations and photos to aid in accurate identification of the catch. There’s a functional fishing log integrated with Facebook that allows anglers to take a photo, log the fish and brag about it on social media.
Arrington said they continually update the app to reflect changing regulations. Soon, the partners hope to add a fishing license function so that an angler who finds himself at sea with an expired or no license can obtain it on the spot.
“We still don’t have a ‘catch-fish’ button where you press it and fish start jumping in the boat,” Arrington joked.
The partners love nothing better than performing continuous field tests of the new app, which of course, means going fishing out of Jupiter aboard Arrington’s 25-foot Contender open-fisherman.
On a recent ‘field test’ out of Jupiter Inlet, fishing was slow, but the app proved its worth.
Anchored on a sunken barge about 60 feet deep, Arrington caught several small amberjacks on live pilchards. Even for a fisheries scientist, it was difficult to tell pint-sized greater amberjacks from equally small lesser amberjacks. Although Arrington didn’t intend to keep them, he wanted to demonstrate how the app helps differentiate the two kinds of jacks.
So he put them in the live well, pulled out his iPhone, found the fish identification button and turned to a photo and drawing clearly showing that the greater a.j. has seven spines on its front dorsal fin, while the lesser has eight. Then he let the fish go.
A few minutes later, Arrington caught a horse-eye jack of about 20 pounds using a live blue runner for bait. He didn’t want to keep that, either, but looked it up anyway on the Fish Rules App. There was no mention of the horse eye.
A check of Florida recreational saltwater fishing rules on the myfwc.com website revealed why: there are no recreational regulations for the species; hence, it’s not included in the app.
Arrington and Blalock both say they are eager for feedback from anglers about the product. Also, there are a few photos they need to add to the identification guide, such as the spearfish, so they need a little help from the angling community to expand the identification guide.
For more information about Fish Rules App, go to http://www.fishrulesapp.com. To submit fish photos, email email@example.com.