Florida’s the land of big bass, the real Bass Fishing Capital of the World. Just ask Joseph “Brooks” Morrell.
Brooks recently caught three huge bass that he documented, released and entered in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program. These included the second and third Hall of Fame entries for the program’s second season. The two bass weighed 13 pounds, 12 ounces and 14 pounds, 9 ounces. They were caught March 1 and 8, respectively.
The third bass he caught on March 9 weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces.
Obviously, Brooks is really on the fish right now. All three of his trophy bass were caught sight-fishing with a soft-plastic Berkley crawfish bait on Kingsley Lake, an Outstanding Florida Water near Starke and not far from Gainesville. It’s a major angling feat to catch such huge fish on artificial lures anywhere.
Morrell grew up fishing in Florida and then spent six years in the U.S. Air Force security forces before returning to Florida to become a law enforcement officer in Bradford County.
“Fishing has been awesome this spring,” Morrell told TrophyCatch directors. “I’m so glad that I could get these documented and then release the females alive right back on their beds."
TrophyCatch is the FWC’s premier angler-recognition program that encourages anglers who catch largemouth bass over 8 pounds to photo-document them on a scale showing the entire fish and its weight. Once documented, a fish must be live-released in the same water system from which it was caught.
In return for documenting and releasing these big female bass that typically are at least 8 years old and relatively rare, the FWC’s partners provide valuable rewards. FWC posts the images on the TrophyCatchFlorida.com website and provides a full-color certificate and club decal. Corporate partners provide additional incentives including the following:
Lunker Club (8-9.9 pounds): $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, Rapala and/or Dick’s Sporting goods, and a club T-shirt from Bass King Clothing.
Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds): $150 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, Rapala and/or Dick’s Sporting goods, and a long-sleeve club shirt from Bass King Clothing.
Hall of Fame (13 pounds or heavier): Free fiberglass replica from New Wave Taxidermy ($500 value), $200 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, Rapala and/or Dick’s Sporting goods, and a duffle bag and custom hoody, with other goodies, from Bass King Clothing.
The biggest bass of the year also receives a TrophyCatch championship ring from the American Outdoors Fund, and if the winning bass is from one of the major lakes in Osceola County, Experience Kissimmee adds a $10,000 check.
On behalf of VISIT FLORIDA, congratulations Brooks!