Fishing & Boating News
Anglers of all ages enjoy showing off their catch and recalling the memories. In fact, that's pretty much been the case for all historical "ages" as well. For instance, Chinese anglers used bamboo rods, reels and silk lines in 3,000 B.C., and one can imagine their pride in a big catch. Egyptian art, from the age of the Pharoahs, shows hook-and-line fishing not only for food but for pleasure and seems to proudly document their prowess. "The Compleat Angler - or - the Contemplative Man's Recreation," by Izaak Walton, published in England in 1655, boasted of the comparative size of catches between streams. Thaddeus Norris in "The American Angler" (1864) referred to the need for conservation and describes techniques for catching the biggest and best fish.
At least 46 of the 50 states have an angler recognition program to enhance angler enjoyment and satisfaction, increase participation rates, attain fisheries data and increase license sales. Nearly 75 percent of the states require a photo to document the catch and more than half require use of a certified scale. Almost all provide a customized certificate. A few also offer rewards (three states provide drawings and seven provide incentives like shirts or lures). Special categories for youth (13 states), recording multiple catches of different species (14 states) or "slams" for catching a specific group of different species in a specified time (six states) are also popular.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does all this and more for freshwater anglers.
April 30 concludes the first Hall of Fame season for the innovative new TrophyCatch program. No doubt about it, though, TrophyCatch, Big Catch and the State Record program are still going full speed ahead year round. Read on for a more detailed breakdown of the requirements for each program:
State-record freshwater fish
Big Catch angler recognition
Since TrophyCatch helps market Florida as the Fishing Capital of the World and generates business, industry partners provide incentives to encourage anglers to recycle and report their catch. The data provided helps identify environmental variables and FWC conservation efforts, such as habitat enhancement, stocking, vegetation management and regulations, which support trophy fisheries. Since accurate data is needed to manage trophy fisheries and to reward anglers, the verification process is more stringent than for Big Catch.
Bass club levels
In addition, the biggest bass of the year caught in Osceola County and verified as a TrophyCatch receives $10,000 from Explore Kissimmee. If a guide helps to catch the fish, the guide is also rewarded with $2,500.
The biggest verified bass of the year caught in Florida wins the TrophyCatch Championship Ring from the American Outdoors Fund.
To learn more and register, visit the TrophyCatchFlorida website. Just registering, makes you eligible for a Phoenix Bass Boat powered by Mercury. Once registered, you can submit photos of your catch for any of these angler-recognition award programs. Remember, for state records (33 species) a biologist needs to examine the fish (alive or dead), and for Hall of Fame an FWC employee needs to see certify your largemouth bass prior to its release. In both those cases, the fish must be weighed on a certified scale. For TrophyCatch's Lunker Club and Trophy Club, you take photos showing the length and weight and release the bass alive. For Big Catch just take a photo and ensure the fish is longer than or heavier than the qualifying weight. One last thing: If you have old photos for Big Catch, and know the length or weight of the fish, they can be entered at any time.
Details are at the TrophyCatchFlorida website. Be sure to friend us on FaceBook/TrophyCatchFlorida and "like" us at YouTube/TrophyCatchFlorida.
Whatever your age, wherever you fish in Florida, remember: The FWC is ready to help commemorate and immortalize your memories. Post your photos and share them with your social network.
Instant licenses are available at MyFWC.com/License or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or texting to Tip@MyFWC.com. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and select "more news," or scr.bi/Fish-busters for more Fish Busters' Bulletins.
Phone:903-882-8877 or 903-882-8878 — Fax: 972-619-8776