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Entries in trophy bass (46)


Big Bass Still Plentiful at Stonewall Jackson

More than a year after resource managers removed a catch-and-release-only regulation for West Virginia's Stonewall Jackson Lake, resource managers believe that big bass numbers haven’t diminished.

“It’s a bit early to tell, but at this point we haven’t seen a difference whatsoever,” Jim Walker, district fisheries biologist, told Metro News. “We encourage you to do whatever you want with the fish when you catch it. It’s your prerogative. But the majority of anglers are still releasing them, and it’s not affecting the population whatsoever."

They’re still releasing them at the 2,600-acre impoundment, even though now anglers can keep six bass each, with one over 18 inches. The West Virginia Natural Resources Commission decided to allow harvest of smaller fish because of an overall decline in size of largemouths and a growing spotted bass population.

To learn even more about what anglers are doing with those larger fish, biologists tagged some of them this past summer, when the bass were shallow.

“When an angler catches one of these tagged bass, they look at the tag, call us up, and tell us what they did with the fish,” Walker explained. “Did they keep the bass or did they release the bass? That information will help us with future regulations.”


TrophyCatch Boasts Nearly 3,000 Entries as Season Three Ends

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  wraps up season three of TrophyCatch, nearly 3,000 trophy largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds have been caught, documented, and released in Florida.

Thanks to TrophyCatch’s corporate partners, led by Bass Pro Shops, Phoenix Boats and Experience Kissimmee, anglers  reap rewards for taking time to document and release these fish so they may be caught again, as well as help FWC learn more about enhancing and sustaining the most popular fishery in the world.

Each angler who catches a bass weighing more than 8 pounds, documents the weight, and releases it alive is eligible to earn prizes, starting with $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, a custom certificate and decal, as well as other prizes. Check out  to register, submit catches and review the rules and prizing details, which increase in value for larger bass. For most anglers, qualifying is as simple as taking a photo of the entire bass, head-to-tail, on a scale, so the weight can be seen and submitting it to the website. Tournament anglers also may participate by providing a link to official published results.

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Texas' ShareLunker Program begins 30th season

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“In season three alone, we documented more than 1,700 trophy-size bass caught and released in Florida to continue growing, spawning, and challenging anglers,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

Included were 14 Hall of Fame bass, each weighing more than 13 pounds. Each of those 14 anglers will receive a hand-painted replica of his catch (a $500 value), as well as $200 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, and other prizes.

Although all bass must have been caught between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sep. 30, 2015, to be included in the season three competition, anglers have until Oct. 15 to get their catches submitted and approved. The annual champion will then be announced and the Championship Ring, provided by the American Outdoors Fund, will be presented. The current leader is Seth Chapman, who caught, documented, and released a 15-pound, 11-ounce Florida largemouth on March 15 in Kingsley Lake, Clay County. This is the same semi-private lake in Florida that yielded the season two champion bass.

Every angler who registers, free of cost, at  is entered into an annual drawing for a $40,000 bass boat package. Phoenix boats donated a 619 Pro, powered by Mercury Marine, and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system. In addition, every time an angler has a TrophyCatch verified and approved, he or she earns 10 more chances to win the boat.

Check out Facebook to see who the finalists are for this year’s random drawing and to learn when and where the boat will be given away.

“TrophyCatch has caught on with anglers from around the state and the world,” said K.P. Clements, TrophyCatch director. “We still have trophy bass that were caught and released but not documented because anglers did not have a suitable scale or camera to verify the weight, failed to get the required photograph, or didn’t yet know about the program. But we are finding out that more and more anglers are making sure they’re ready to document and submit their catch when they land a TrophyCatch-size bass.”

All of this activity helps achieve TrophyCatch goals, which are to preserve these valuable trophy fish, learn how to enhance their abundance, and promote recreational fishing.


Why We Fish: Waiting for the Blowup


And do you know what heightens anticipation even more? A big blowup and a near-miss from a bass that looks to weigh more than 10 pounds.

One extraordinary morning, that happened to me on consecutive casts to the same spot. Always the optimist, I put the lure there a third time, and this time I hooked the fish that just wouldn’t quit. It weighed 12 pounds.

What pleases me the most about that memory, though, isn’t that I caught --- and released --- that big bass. It’s vicariously enjoying again the anticipation and how it intensified with each cast and each near-miss.

I also can remember feeling almost unbearable anticipation as a child. Mostly it manifested as sleepless nights, with me thinking about going fishing the next day with my friends. But the mystery? Not so much. Kids live more in the moment and eagerly take what comes instead of pondering what might follow. That’s why it’s so important for adults to allow them to pursue distractions --- chase frogs, dig worms, skip rocks --- when the fish aren’t biting.

Excerpt from "Mystery and More" in Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.


World-Class Suwanee Bass on Display in Florida

If it's not already, a world record Suwannee bass soon will be swimming in the 9,200-gallon aquarium at Bass Pro Shops in Tallahassee, Fla. It was just two ounces shy of the record when released there this sumemr, after being caught in the Ochlockonee Rivery by Ferrol "Roscoe" Holley, Jr.

After catching the fish on June 26, Holley contacted Andy Strickland, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), who immediately went to meet him. The 3.75-pound bass was weighed on a certified scale and measured 16.5 inches long. The state and world record is 3.89 pounds, caught by Ronnie Everett in 1985 on the Suwannee River in Gilchrist County.

Give it a few good meals in the Bass Pro Shops’ aquarium and customers should soon be watching a world-record feed at noon each Tuesday/Thursday and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

First, Brian Claborn, Bass Pro Shops’ aquarist, treated the bass to ensure it was healthy and held it in quarantine. Once it was given a clean bill of health, Claborn and Strickland arranged for Holley and his family to come to the store and release the bass into the aquarium. Strickland also presented Holley with a “Big Catch” certificate.

Big Catch is the FWC’s oldest angler-recognition program, which traces its history to 1953 when a “fishing citation” program was run by Florida Wildlife Magazine (now the free online The actual Big Catch Angler Recognition Program began in 1990, and since then thousands of anglers have enjoyed having their catches recognized.

Anglers can register for free at to submit their catch or view other anglers’ catches. A customized certificate is rewarded to any angler who legally catches and photographs one of 33 popular Florida freshwater fish species that exceeds the qualifying length or weight. The program includes categories for specialists (five qualifying fish of the same species), masters (five qualifying fish of different species) and elite anglers (10 qualifying fish of different species). In addition, a youth category makes this a family-friendly way to get kids involved.

The final Big Catch category includes the freshwater grand slams. A Bass Slam includes catching a largemouth, spotted, shoal and Suwannee bass in the same year. A Bream Slam is awarded for catching any four of bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, warmouth, redbreast sunfish or flier in one day, and an Exotic Slam requires catching a butterfly peacock, Mayan cichlid and oscar in one day. These programs help encourage anglers to try new species, locations and techniques, and provide fun family challenges.

Holley’s near-world-record Suwannee bass is in the same group of black basses as largemouth bass, shoal bass, spotted bass and the newly-identified Choctaw bass. With the exception of the largemouth, these other basses are all primarily riverine and within Florida are only located in the panhandle and tributaries of the Suwannee River. The FWC is proposing new rules to continue to protect all of these species (see and click on “Speak out on bass rules” to learn more and comment.)


Florida Bass Stocked in Roosevelt Lake

With assistance from anglers, Arizona continued its efforts to improve one of its most important bass fisheries this spring by stocking 40,000 Florida-strain fingerlings. Release of these three-to-six-inch fish follows stocking of about one million fry since April 2014.

“Although the fingerlings cost around $70,000, their survival rate is exponentially higher than that of fry, which, along with the addition of artificial fish habitats, should help Arizona Game & Fish (AGF) continue its Roosevelt Lake revitalization efforts,” said Don McDowell, conservation director for Arizona B.A.S.S. Nation and host of the “Shake, Rattle & Troll” radio show.

While Florida donated the fry, with AGF paying only for shipping, angler donations helped the state pay for the fingerlings, McDowell added.

With a survival rate of 15 to 20 percent, the fingerlings should start to reach catchable size in 18 months.

“We hope that within the next 5 to 10 years anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake,” said Chris Cantrell, fisheries chief. “This effort should also have a positive economic impact on local communities.”

Anglers and fisheries managers hope that the stockings will help reverse an alarming decline in the bass population, noted during electrofishing surveys.  In 2008, biologists caught 44 bass per hour, but only 11 during 2013. Additionally, bluegill and crappie numbers declined as well.

A definitive cause is uncertain, but gizzard shad first appeared in the 13,000-acre reservoir several years ago, and since then the population has exploded. Unlike threadfin, gizzard shad grow too large for many bass to eat, and biologists suspect they are crowding out other fish with both their numbers and biomass. The hope is that larger Florida bass will help take a bite out of the problem.