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Florida Angler Catches, Releases Three TrophyCatch Bass

How would you like to catch a 14-, a 13-, and and an 11-pound bass in one month? That's just what Joseph "Brooks" Morrell did recently on Florida's Lake Kingsley in Clay County.

Here's the story about the TrophyCatch fish from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC):

These included the second and third Hall of Fame entries for the program’s second season (Oct. 1, 2013 to Sep. 30, 2014). The bass weighed 13 pounds, 12 ounces,  and 14 pounds, 9 ounces, and were caught March 1 and 8, respectively.

The third bass he caught on March 9 weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces.

All three of his trophy bass were caught sight-fishing with a soft-plastic Berkley crawfish bait.

On March 1, he located the 13-pounder on a bed guarded by a male. After working the male off the bed, he landed her using the artificial crawfish bait and called the FWC. Conservation officers Jason Bryant and Christiane Larosa were able to help measure the bass and even photographed its successful release, which allowed it to return to the bed.

A week later, Morrell was back on Kingsley Lake and landed the 14-pounder. It was 27.75 inches long with a 21-inch girth. Various formulas used for estimating bass weights (see project a bass with those dimensions would be between 13.5 and 16.2 pounds, further substantiating the catch. This is now the biggest bass of TrophyCatch season two, and we are right in the middle of peak fishing time for big bass – so the challenge is on.

“Fishing has been awesome this spring,” Morrell said. “I’m so glad that I could get these documented and then release the females alive right back on their beds. Next weekend, on March 15, I’m putting on a ‘Relay for Life’ fishing tournament on Lake Santa Fe to support the fight against cancer (see but will be back fishing myself as soon as possible.”

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 website and provide 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.

However, for many anglers more than the value of the rewards or the bragging rights associated with the program, the biggest thrill is releasing their catch to fight another day and knowing the information provided about the catch helps the FWC ensure trophy bass for future generations. Information reported to TrophyCatch is used by the FWC to determine what management programs such as habitat enhancement, aquatic plant management, fish stocking or regulations are most effective. Moreover, the information is very valuable for promoting Florida bass fishing, which generates significant economic benefits to local communities and encourages additional angling –including getting more youth involved.

For more information, visit and follow


Anti-Fishing, Anti-Hunting Movement Spread by 'Transplants'

Up in Maine, one outdoorsman is angry that “transplants” are attacking his state’s rich hunting and fishing heritage.

 “In Maine, Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap certified more than 63,500 petition signatures, more than enough to qualify a ballot measure for the fall election that will ask voters if they favor prohibiting hunting black bears over bait, with hounds or using traps,” he said.

“In 2004, Mainers rejected an identical ballot measure by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. I can guarantee you that most of the signatures are from transplants who have moved here from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

Maine also is the state where some want to ban plastic baits, although no scientific evidence suggests that fisheries are being harmed by their use.

Of course, evidence is irrelevant. These types of measures are being pushed by a well-funded animal-rights movement that is adamantly anti-fishing and anti-hunting, and it has found a supportive base among urban populations whose only knowledge of nature is what they see on television.

Unfortunately for those of us who fish and hunt, these people also are moving out of the cities to improve their “quality of life.” In the process, they threaten ours as they attempt to impose their values on us.

Fishing and hunting is under siege as never before, and it’s only going to get worse.

Go here to read what else the Maine outdoorsman has to say.


Urban Programs Help Boost Angling Participation

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Following two decades of steady decline in fishing participation, the trend began turning around in 2006, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, a report produced very five years. In fact, participation increased nationally by 11 percent.

In Kentucky, that improvement is reflected by an 8 percent increase in fishing license sales during 2012, with at least some of the credit due to implementation of the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program in 2006 by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

Partnering with local governments, the state stocked rainbow trout and catfish in six lakes to provide city dwellers with safe, convenient access to fishing. Today, the program has grown to 39 lakes in 24 counties, with 142,000 trout and 111,000 catfish stocked in 2013.

“In addition to these lakes being stocked with catfish and trout, the sunfish and bass populations are regularly sampled to ensure natural reproduction is meeting the needs of anglers,” KDFWR said. “Stocking of hybrid sunfish and/or largemouth bass occurs if needed.”

Nearly half the states have adopted similar urban fishing programs, in an attempt to attract more urban and suburban participants, especially women, and, as in Kentucky, the strategy seems to be effective.

KDFWR’s Brian Clark pointed out that urban households are not as connected to the land and typically don’t have readily available angling opportunities, as do those who live in rural settings. “It’s just not as natural a pastime,” he said.

According to a 2013 report, Exploring Increases in Hunting and Fishing Participation, both new and returning anglers  are “slightly more often female, are markedly more often retired with new free time, are slightly more often identifying themselves as homemakers, slightly more suburban . . . and are more devoted to fishing in freshwater.”

The report also theorized that the prolonged slowdown in the economy has prompted more people to fish and hunt for food. Related to that, more people are looking for natural food sources. Additionally, military personnel returning home could have contributed to the increase in participation.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Why We Fish May Also Help You Catch the Big One

"The book is not only about why we fish, although the theme is woven skillfully through the chapters. As philosophical as it sounds, Why We Fish may also help you catch the big one and enjoy your own fishing trips more. It also gives thoughtful insight on how to be a better conservationist, one that will, like the author, desire to share fishing opportunities and memories with children and grandchildren."

Excerpt from Examiner review of Why We Fish. For more reviews, go to Amazon. My other book, Better Bass Fishing, also is available there.


South Florida Top 'Dream Destination' for Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

According to a survey conducted by, South Florida remains the top dream destination of would-be traveling anglers with 43 percent of those surveyed choosing it as the location they would most prefer to fish if they had the opportunity.

Here's more from parent company, Southwick Associates:

South Florida was followed by Costa Rica with just over 18 percent of respondents selecting the Central American country as the place they would go. Next on the list was Mexico with 12 percent, followed by the Bahamas with just over 12 percent and Panama with more than five percent.

Nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they had no preference, while 11 percent said they wouldn’t choose any of those places. Additional destinations written in by anglers included both salt- and fresh-water fishing locations such as Texas, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama and a handful of others.

 While all of the asked about destinations offer superb fishing—49 percent of responding anglers said that was one of the chief reasons they chose their respective dream fishing location—there are other factors that may have helped South Florida edge its competition. In addition to perceived great fishing, other top reasons for choosing the place respondents selected include less hassle to get there with 22 percent selecting that motivation, 21 percent cited feeling “more secure” at the location as a concern and 20 percent pointed to the cost of travel as a factor.

 “By virtue of being tropically located, but still a part of the United States, South Florida certainly offers a certain appeal to a lot of anglers not wishing to deal with the cost or additional concerns of international travel,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and “Efforts by all travel destinations to improve convenience, contain costs and hassles and provide a strong sense of security can boost their sportfishing tourism dollars.”

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at, and/or Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.