Bob Williams of Alloway, N.J., is really glad he registered for Florida’s new TrophyCatch program.
Bob was fishing on Rodman Reservoir with Silver Springs-based guide Sean Rush of Trophy Bass Expeditions on Feb. 18, 2012 when he hooked a 13-pound, 14-ounce largemouth on a big shiner.
Rush contacted the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to have the fish certified through the program. Williams won more than $1,000 in rewards for documenting and releasing his catch. He will also claim the statewide grand prize of the TrophyCatch ring.
TrophyCatch is FWC’s angler recognition program, which generously rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy largemouth bass -- the most sought-after recreational species in North America.
Florida is home to a unique bass subspecies known for its superior growth rate and trophy size. Over 4,000 anglers registered the first year for TrophyCatch, and 132 Lunker Club bass and 58 Trophy Club bass were documented.
FWC uses data from the program to help enhance and promote trophy bass fisheries throughout the state.
Please spread the word about TrophyCatch. According to KP Clements, TrophyCatch Coordinator, innumerable other huge bass were reported around the state, including one that may have been nearly 17 pounds, but these submissions could not be verified.
“We want everyone to be prepared to take a photo of their fish on a scale, quickly release their bass, and submit photos to www.TrophyCatchFlorida.com,” Clements said.
FWC is about to give away the first TrophyCatch championship ring and a slew of other prizes -- a boat, fiberglass fish mount and more to the excited winners, including a special $10,000 prize presented by Experience Kissimmee.
The most coveted prize is the Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury. Every angler who registers (for free) is eligible.
To register, visit www.TrophyCatchFlorida.com.
When you catch a bass over eight pounds, simply take a quick photo of the entire fish on a scale clearly showing the weight, snap a couple of other optional photos and release the bass to fight another day.
By submitting photos for verification online, anglers become eligible for custom certificates and decals, plus awards based on the bass's weight.
Lunker Club entrants (8.0-9.9 lbs.) receive a $50 Bass Pro Shops gift card and Bass King T-shirt.
Trophy Club participants (10-12.9 lbs) earn a total of $150 worth of gift cards (Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and/or Rapala), plus a long-sleeve T-shirt.
To be entered into the Hall of Fame, anglers must catch, carefully document and release a bass weighing more than 13 pounds --but it’s worth it.
Hall-of-Fame entrants also receive a free $500 fiberglass mount of their fish from New Waves Taxidermy, $200 in gift cards, a duffle bag full of Bass King apparel, a Glen Lau video library and other prizes worth a total of $1,000.
Bass anglers, register today! And keep an eye on Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida to see who wins.
For a list of Florida’s top trophy bass waters, and to see where you might have the best chance of releasing a winner, click here.