Florida is the place to go to catch world-class fish. See fishing records and legends at the International Game Fish Association in Dania Beach.
The International Game Fish Association, the organization that maintains the book of world record fishes, makes its headquarters in Dania Beach on Florida’s East Coast.
The IGFA has the world’s top museum dedicated to sport fishing and is a destination in itself. It is easy to get lost for hours as you wander the halls lined with equipment and photographs from the legends of the sport such as Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey.
The museum’s library, interactive exhibits and gift shop are first class as well, but for serious anglers, the IGFA headquarters are the place where you go to get your name in the record book.
Florida's Still the Champ
Florida can call itself the “Fishing Capital of the World” for good reason. When it comes to world records, anglers fishing Florida waters have racked up a staggering 4,952 records. That is far more than any other state--or country, for that matter.
What makes our state so attractive to anglers looking to earn their spot in the IGFA record book? There is no easy answer.
Some may point to the diversity of our sport fishes, the variety of habitat, mild weather, great guides and tackle shops and, of course, a year-round fishing season. With more than 7,700 lakes, 12,650 miles of rivers and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, there is no shortage of places to fish.
Ocean, Gulf and Bay
The IGFA maintains both all-tackle and line-class records. The largest red grouper ever caught, a 42-pound, 4-ounce monster landed in St. Augustine by Del Wiseman, Jr. on March 9, 1997, is an example of the former. But Martin Arostegui also earned his place in history by catching a 3-pound, 0-ounce red off Marathon Key on March 8, 2008, using 2-pound test line.
But the IGFA also maintains its Grand Slam, Super Grand Slam and Royal Slam Clubs. For example, catch a bonefish, tarpon and permit in one day and you have qualified for an inshore grand slam. Anglers can also earn a spot in the 10-pound Bass, 10-pound Bonefish and 25-pound Snook clubs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also administers a program that recognizes angling accomplishments. Freshwater fishermen can sign up for the free “Big Catch” program and become a “master” or “elite” angler. Children can qualify for special recognition as well. Beginning October 1, 2012, a special new program rewarding anglers for catching, reporting and releasing largemouth bass over eight pounds will be live. Visit www.trophycatchflorida.com to register and ultimately report your caught-and-released trophies for great prizes.
Saltwater fishermen can earn their own honors. Catch a redfish, trout and cobia in a 24-hour period in North Florida and you will earn that region’s Grand Slam award. On the West Coast, it takes a redfish, tarpon and snook to qualify. East Coast anglers must catch a trout, tarpon and redfish, while South Florida fishermen need a tarpon, permit and bonefish to join the club. For information, go to www.MyFWC.com.
IGFA & Dania Beach
If you're interested in earning a place in the record books, contact the IGFA and get a copy of the rules before you go fishing. The organization is particular, for good reason, and anglers must follow the directions to the letter in order for the catch to be approved.
The IGFA Headquarters and Museum is located in Dania Beach, right next to the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, an angler’s superstore. The 160,000-square-foot outdoors shop sells everything from bass boats to fishing lures. If you head east toward the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, where you can rent a canoe or kayak or serve up a seaside picnic. For some fun with the kids, try Boomers, home of mini golf, go-karts and two thrill rides, Flame Thrower and Sidewinder, five family rides, two large rock walls and laser tag. After dinner, the adults can slip away to The Casino for jai-alai and poker.
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