To participate in Florida's freshwater angler recognition programs, all fish must be caught by the angler being recognized in accordance with the freshwater recreational fishing regulations of the state of Florida at the time of the catch. This includes, but is not limited to, the angler being properly licensed or using an approved exemption, using legal gear (moreover, for angler recognition the gear must be an active hook and line method, which does not include bush hooks or trotlines), and fishing in fresh water or brackish waters within the state of Florida, where the angler has legal access. Your submissions to this program including photos and other data provided to the Florida Angler Recognition program constitute a release for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use them without compensation or further notice for research, informational and other public purposes, such as being posted on this TrophyCatchFlorida.com website, Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida and in other related news releases and articles.
There are 33 eligible species of freshwater fish in the "Big Catch" program. To participate an angler must abide by the general angler recognition rules and either the length or weight of the fish must exceed the posted minimum length or weight. It is preferred that a photo of the fish be submitted and the form completed online by a registered angler; however, an angler may submit the application on paper with either a photo or witness' signature, if they cannot submit electronically. Paper applications are available in the current version of the Florida Freshwater Recreational Fishing Regulations or may be downloaded here (PDF). Fish may be harvested or released, if the fish was released the certificate will include an accolade to that effect.
Note that not all 33 species are available anywhere in the state. If you would like to see the approximate ranges of the species or which ones are available in your county, please visit our distribution map.
Kids Fishing—Family fishing is an outstanding way to enjoy nature and spend quality time together, research has shown that active nature-based recreation contributes to a happier, heatlhier and more productive life style. To encourage youth fishing and add to the excitement, we have lowered the big catch minimum qualifying sizes by 25 percent for youths under age 16. Otherwise the same Big Catch rules apply for youth as for adults.
Specialists (five documented Big Catch fish of the same species), Masters (five documented Big Catch fishes of different species) or Elite Angler Certificates (ten documented Big Catch fishes of different species) are awarded to anglers following the same rules. Although the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) attempts to track and report these automatically based on an anglers customer id (license number) or registration number (for anglers exempt from licenses), it is best for anglers to indicate when a fish qualifies them for these awards. Trophy Award pins are provided to anglers that document a bass over 10 pounds as part of the Big Catch program, whether they are released or harvested. This is distinct from the TrophyCatch program, which requires greater documentation and for all bass to be released alive.
Grand slam certificates are also available. Bass Slam” (for catching a largemouth bass, spotted bass, shoal bass, and Suwannee bass within one year); “Bream Slam” (for catching any four of bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, warmouth, redbreast sunfish, or flier in one day), and a unique south Florida “Exotic Slam” (for catching a butterfly peacock, Mayan cichlid, and oscar in one day). The “Big Catch” Freshwater Slam Program rewards anglers who accomplish this memorable feat by providing qualifying anglers with a colorful citation showing the type of Slam they achieved. These fish do not have to achieve a minimum length or weight to be eligible.
*If not registered prior to catching a qualifying fish, the angler must do so before submitting an entry into the TrophyCatch program. However, this may be completed after the fish is caught, measured, photographed, and released (except that Hall of Fame fish must be certified by an FWC employee prior to release).
Submitting a Fish:
Lunker Club (8-9.99 pound) and Trophy Club (10-12.99 pound) largemouth bass will be accepted year-round and will require photographic documentation for certification. Hall of Fame Club fish (13 pounds and greater) will be accepted between Oct. 1 and April 30. Bass 13 pounds and greater caught outside of the Hall of Fame season (May through September) will be accepted into and receive incentives for Trophy Club level fish.
Anglers who register may pick up a genetics sampling kit (locations list coming soon). Anglers are not required but are encouraged to take a fin-clip of their Lunker or Trophy Club fish. Since catch-and-release of trophy largemouth bass is an important component of the TrophyCatch program, genetic information will inform FWC biologists if a fish has been caught and released multiple times.
All fish entered into TrophyCatch must be caught legally in Florida waters using an active hook-and-line method (bush hooks, snatch hooks, set lines, trotlines are excluded as a method to take largemouth bass), and documented following club level guidelines (below).
Bass must be released live on the same waterbody where caught.
Anglers submitting a Lunker or Trophy Club fish must submit high resolution photographs (good overall clarity, 3 megapixel camera or above recommended), with one photograph of the whole fish on a spring or digital scale with the weight clearly visible, and one of the whole fish on a measuring board with the length clearly visible. Anglers are encouraged to submit two to three additional photographs of the fish: close-up on scale, being released, and/or of themselves or a friend with their catch (please remove sunglasses).
Since catch-and-release of trophy fish is a goal of TrophyCatch, anglers should become familiar with handling procedures to ensure fish are healthy upon release. Largemouth bass not certified live or kept by an angler will not be accepted into the TrophyCatch program but anglers may submit a Big Catch application to recognize their catch.
Note: Anglers must contact the TrophyCatch coordinator immediately after catching a Hall of Fame Club fish (13 pounds or greater) at 1-855 FL TROPHY (855-358-7674). Certified weigh stations are distributed around the state. The TrophyCatch coordinator will provide the angler with proper handling techniques and instructions to get their catch certified.
There are 33 eligible species of fresh water fishes for which the FWC maintains records. Certified state record fish must:
■ Be legally caught using an active hook-and-line method (including a proper license or exemption) by sport fishing methods,
■ Be identified by a Commission biologist, and
■ Be weighed on a certified scale, with an up-to-date certification stamp.
■ Anglers may be required to submit to a lie-detector test prior to certification of a state record.
Uncertified state records are believed accurate based on reliable witnesses and other evidence but are not certifiable, or they were caught by other than legal sport fishing methods. To set a new record, you need to exceed the certified records; the uncertified records are provided just for information. The "Big Catch" program gives recognition to anglers who catch fish that exceed the minimum "qualifying weights and lengths." If you catch such a fish, contact the appropriate regional office. These records are updated as soon as they are verified.
Please note the FWC does not maintain state records for all species, and does not maintain line-classes. The International Game Fish Association is an additional source for certifiying records, although neither group automatically recognizes the other's records due to differences in certification requirements.