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May 2013 Fish Busters' Bulletin written by Bob Wattendorf for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission describing the various freshwater angler recognition programs.
May 2013 Fish Busters' Bulletin written by Bob Wattendorf for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission describing the various freshwater angler recognition programs.

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Florida Fish Busters’ BulletinMay 2013
 Angler-recognition programs enhance pleasure
By Bob Wattendorf 
 Anglers of all ages enjoy showing off theircatch and recalling the memories. In fact, that’spretty much been the case for all historical ”ages”as well. For instance, Chinese anglers used bamboorods, reels and silk lines in 3,000 B.C., and one canimagine their pride in a big catch. Egyptian art,from the age of the Pharoahs, shows hook-and-linefishing not only for food but for pleasure and seemsto proudly document their prowess. “The Compleat Angler - or - the Contemplative Man’s Recreation,” by Izaak Walton, published inEngland in 1655, boasted of the comparative size of catches between streams.Thaddeus Norris in “The American Angler” (1864) referred to the need forconservation and describes techniques for catching the biggest and best fish. At least 46 of the 50 states have an angler recognition program to enhanceangler enjoyment and satisfaction, increase participation rates, attain fisheries dataand increase license sales. Nearly 75 percent of the states require a photo todocument the catch and more than half require use of a certified scale. Almost allprovide a customized certificate. A few also offer rewards (three states provide
Terrence Alford caught this 14 lb, 2 ozbass in April from Doctors Lake.
drawings and seven provide incentives like shirts or lures). Special categories foryouth (13 states), recording multiple catches of different species (14 states) or“slams” for catching a specific group of different species in a specified time (sixstates) are also popular.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does all thisand more for freshwater anglers. April 30 concludes the first Hall of Fame season for the innovative newTrophyCatch program. No doubt about it,though, TrophyCatch, Big Catch and theState Record program are still going fullspeed ahead year round. Read on for a moredetailed breakdown of the requirements foreach program:
State-record freshwater fish
Florida recognizes state records for 33 species of freshwater fishes. Some of these are game fish and some are nongame fish, and some are native while othersare non-native. The poster illustrated here (also see MyFWC.com/BigCatch to print one) shows the various species along with the current state record. To be listed as astate record, there are several stringent requirements. First, the fish must beweighed on a certified scale. Second, the fish must be identified to species by anFWC biologist. Third, the fish must be legally caught by a licensed (or legally
The first Hall of Fame bass in Florida'sTrophyCatch program was caught by Bob Williams,with the help of his guide Sean Rush.
exempt) angler in waters where access and fishing gear were legal. State recordsare only issued for active hook-and-line catches. Bushhooks, trotlines or bow-and-arrow do not count. A certificate is issued for all state records, but specific line-classor lake records are not maintained.
Big Catch angler recognition
This program began in 1953 as a “fishing citation” program to provide anincentive for anglers to share photos of their Big Catch with Florida WildlifeMagazine. In 1990, the FWC introduced new criteria with minimum weights foreach species. A 1996 revamp included new categories for specialists (five qualifyingfish of the same species), masters (five qualifying fish of different species), eliteanglers (10 qualifying fish of different species) and youth (approximately 25percent smaller than adult minimum sizes). We also began allowing anglers toenter fish based on length or weight, making it easier to document a catch. In 2012,the FWC added slams for Black Bass, Bream and Exotics (seeMyFWC.com/BigCatch). Big Catch remains a very popular, family-oriented programthat allows legal catch-and-release or harvest, and only a simple bragging photoand statement of the length or weight is required. Big Catch promotes fishing for adiversity of species and, as a result, there is always a species that anglers cantarget, regardless of the time of year or location.
This is Florida’s newest and most rewarding angler recognition program. Itrewards anglers for documenting and releasing 8-pound and heavier bass. This

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