PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Fishing with loved ones is a pretty great way to spend a Florida Saturday.

What You Need To Know

  • Mayan Cichlids are an invasive species of fish

  • They take food away from other native fish

  • Learn more about Mayan Cichlids here

“Ever since I was a kid, I went fishing with my grandpa, my dad and now I get to take my son fishing,” said Justin Armstrong of Oldsmar.

Fishing with loved ones while helping save the environment is just about as good as it gets.

“Growing up here in Florida, there’s a lot of fragile ecosystems. So it’s important to learn that even something as simple as a fish can just wreak havoc on everything,” said Armstrong.

The goal of the day — catch as many Mayan Cichlids as possible.

They have become an invasive species in the area, taking resources such as food from other native fish to the point where the native fish can’t survive.

“They have the propensity to take over these areas at a rapid pace, so what we’re trying to do today is help balance our ecosystem with the native fish by catching the non-native fish,” said Chip Potts, director of leisure services in Oldsmar.

In other events, they have caught as many as 1,200 Mayan Cichlids in a week.

Today, as the families work to catch the fish, they also get to catch up on lost time.

“I usually don’t see my dad on his workdays, I only see him at night,” said 6-year-old Jake Armstrong, Justin’s son.

“Yeah,” he replied when asked if it’s special to spend the whole day fishing with his dad.

Families had the choice of keeping their fish, or donating them to the city.

Donated fish will go to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores.​