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Entries in TrophyCatch (27)

Tuesday
Jul122016

The Best Bass Lake That You've Never Heard Of

Len Andrews caught this 13-12 largemouth at Kingsley Lake.Why are so many of the lunker bass entered in Florida's TrophyCatch program coming from little Kingsley Lake in the northeastern part of the state?

That's what biologist Drew Dutterer and other researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hope to determine in a two-year study financed with a grant by the federal Sport Fish Restoration program. Information gained  during the two-year project also should help resource managers better understand big bass in general.

"It's an opportunity to learn some things about rare individuals in bass populations at one of the places that seems to produce a lot of them, Dutterer said.

"A lot" is an understatement. The 2,000-acre, semi-private lake (surrounded by private homes and Camp Blanding) has yielded 80 bass of 10 pounds or more since 2013 and a dozen that weighed 13 pounds or better since March of 2014. Last year, 5 of the state's 10 biggest bass came from Kingsley,  and anglers caught two 15-pound trophies in one week, including the state's largest fish of the year,  15-11.

“Trophy bass are a pretty big priority for our agency and for the state of Florida," the biologist said. " It’s one of the identifying characteristics of our Florida bass fishery, and one of the reasons a lot of people come over winter and take fishing vacations in Florida, the chance to catch a big fish."

One aspect of the study involves following the movements of 10 bass of 9 to 13 pounds that have been tagged with transmitters. This could be especially revealing because the lake is far deeper than most in Florida, with at least 300 acres that are 40 feet or more and a few places that drop below 80.

And deep means cooler water during the summer.

"Cooler water may allow bass to live and operate with a slightly lower metabolic rate," Dutterer said. "If Kingsley stratifies and there is cooler water available to the fish in the summer, then they could possibly have a lower metabolism and that could allow them to grow more during the year or it may allow them to live longer."

Additionally, FWC has asked anglers to help by snipping off a bit of a fin on bass of 8 pounds or more  and placing the samples in collection bottles available at the lake. "It's  a proof positive way that we can document that catch and release really does work and leads to increase to increased opportunities to catch trophy fish," the biologist said.

Monday
Apr182016

Black Bass Management Plan Betters Florida Fisheries

Since the Florida Black Bass Management plan was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2011,  fisheries have benefited in four targeted areas.

In "habitat management,"  many bass anglers will be pleased with a new hydrilla policy. It allows hydrilla to be managed on a waterbody-specific basis, "using a risk-based approach rather than the previous mandate to reduce hydrilla to the lowest level possible," said Matt Phillips from the Invasive Plant Management Section of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Under "new opportunities," meanwhile, what fisheries managers hope will be a new trophy fishery is nearing completion, adjacent to the world-renowned Farm 13/Stick Marsh in northwest Indian River County. By the time the reservoir fills at Fellsmere Water Management Area, more than one million fingerling-sized bass will have been stocked, according to FWC's Bob Wattendorf.

Additionally, the bottom has been sculpted to create drop offs, islands, and other structure, and beneficial aquatic plants have been added, along with boat launch facilities.

For "fish management," FWC's Florida's Bass Conservation Center has produced nearly 19 million fish for stocking in more than 250 public water bodies during the past five seasons. Concurrent with the program, research continues into how to increase survival for stocked fish.

Finally, a two-year process of integrating public attitudes and desires with fish population studies led to a review of bass regulations, and resulted in simplification of statewide regulations, as FWC manages harvest to produce more trophy bass. Also under "human dimensions," the TrophyCatch program continues to grow in popularity as it enters its fourth year.

"By providing anglers with sponsored incentives, a website gallery of catches and information on proper handling of these prized fish, TrophyCatch has documented release of more than 3,000 trophy bass back into Florida waters," said spokesman Bob Wattendorf. "The program is helping to conserve these valuable fish and to promote Florida as the 'Bass Fishing Capital of the World.'"

Thursday
Jan072016

Florida'sTrophyCatch Numbers for Big Bass Continue to Grow

"TrophyCatch Season 3 ended on a very positive note, and Season 4 is off to an even better start, with peak fishing time right around the corner," according to the Florida Fish and Widllife Conservation Commission (FWC).

 TrophyCatch is the citizen-science program that allows FWC to collect data on largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds. In return, corporate partners reward anglers for properly documenting the catch with a photo of the entire bass (head to tail) on a scale with the weight showing, and releasing it.

During Season 3, the FWC verified 1,744 TrophyCatch bass, with more than 70 percent of the submissions being approved. The previous season, 993 bass heavier than 8 pounds were verified, which was about 60 percent of submissions. The first season, 185 were verified, which was less than 40 percent of submissions.

“This reflects an increasing awareness by anglers of the TrophyCatch program and how to document their catches, but also shows how prolific the trophy bass fishery is in Florida,” said KP Clements, director of TrophyCatch.

By going to TrophyCatchFlorida.com anglers can register, submit fish, and examine other catches from around the state. Just registering makes you eligible to win a $40,000 boat package. Ed Prather was the lucky winner of the third Phoenix Bass Boat given away by TrophyCatch. The boats are powered by Mercury and equipped with a PowerPole shallow-water anchoring. To be eligible for the random drawing at the end of Season 4, simply ensure you are registered and your information is up-to-date.

Data has shown FWC biologists that while there are hot lakes, like Kingsley Lake in Clay County (which has limited access to the military and homeowners), numerous catches come from small urban or rural ponds or even golf course ponds. Large popular public lakes like Istokpoga, Tohopekaliga, Okeechobee and Kissimmee provide equal opportunity for all anglers and are popular tourist destinations.

At TrophyCatchFlorida.com you can search for catches by county or water body to determine how your favorite area is doing or where to try next.

 Last season about 50 TrophyCatch bass were verified in December, which doubled to more than 100 in January, then increased to about 150 in February and peaked in March with almost 400 approved submissions. Trophy bass catches then declined through November before picking up again, in a typical annual cycle. Of course, this is keyed to the bass’ spawning cycle and anglers’ enthusiasm for finding bass during early spring.

March panned out very well for the 15 Hall of Fame winners from Season 3, who were honored in December at an event at Bass Pro Shops, Orlando. Those anglers caught, documented and released 17 bass over 13 pounds, five of which were caught in March. This included Seth Chapman, who earned the TrophyCatch championship ring, donated by the American Outdoors Fund, for a 15-pound, 11-ounce bass submitted from Kingsley Lake. The ring goes to the biggest verified bass of the season.

Porschia Gabrielse was the first angler with three Hall-of-Fame bass — a 13-, 14-, and 15-pounder — all from small Polk County ponds. She has contributed a total of 41 TrophyCatches to the program.

“TrophyCatch provides significant data to help manage our valuable, ensuring that Florida remains the ‘Fishing Capital of the World’,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

Each Hall-of-Fame fish would be a state record in 28 states, and Florida has had 23 documented in three years. A 15-pounder exceeds the records in all but 12 other states.

To become a TrophyCatch winner yourself, catch, document and release a largemouth bass legally that is 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To enter a trophy bass, take a photo of the entire bass on a scale with the weight visible, and release it alive. Being legal includes having a Florida freshwater fishing license or approved exemption, so make sure you are covered.

For more information , check out Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida, and YouTube.com/TrophyCatchFlorida.

Thursday
Oct012015

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 TrophyCatchFlorida.com  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 TrophyCatchFlorida.com  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.

Thursday
Jun182015

Big Bass Bites Twice

Some bass just don’t mind being caught. That’s the way it seemed, at least for an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth that Robert Burnett caught recently while fishing a shiner on Florida’s Lake Rousseau. Fifteen minutes later, he caught her again.

Burnett knew it was the same fish because he had clipped a fin to send to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for genetic analysis as part of the TrophyCatch.

The angler from Inglis has 26 Lunker Club (8 to 9.9 pounds) and 1 Trophy Club entry (10 to 12.9 pounds) in the FWC program, which began in 2012.

Through incentives provided by the state and corporate sponsors, TrophyCatch encourages anglers to catch, document, and release bass of 8 pounds and heavier. While helping anglers discover which lakes are most productive for big fish and providing valuable information for fisheries management, the program also reduces “the need to prohibit harvest with regulations and has proved highly successful,” FWC said.

Burnett noted that he carefully follows FWC handling advice to clip the line if a fish swallows a hook too deeply to remove easily. On fish that he has left the hook in, he as observed specific markings, such as a scar behind the gill cover. Then, within 10 days, he has caught the same fish again and noticed there was no sign of the hook bothering the fish. This type of anecdotal information helps to substantiate and reconfirm the value of releasing trophy-size bass so anglers can enjoy catching them again.

“Perhaps Robert Burnett will be the one that catches it next time, or his wife – another TrophyCatch participant – or one of his two boys, or some other lucky angler,” FWC said.

Since Oct. 1, 2012, TrophyCatch has verified more than 2,350 bass heavier than 8 pounds that anglers caught, documented and released. Included in those, were 556 Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds) and 19 Hall of Fame (heavier than 13 pounds) catches. Each of these entrants provides valuable data to the FWC through this citizen-science, conservation program. In addition, each verified catch earned a lucky angler at least $100 in Bass Pro Shops or similar gift cards, a Bass King shirt, other rewards, and a certificate for the accomplishment.

“Ultimately, the direct impact of catch-and-release depends on anglers carefully handling the bass and getting it back in the water where it came from as quickly as practical,” FWC added. “To provide the required documentation for TrophyCatch, however, a photo of the entire bass (head to tail) on a scale with the weight showing or official published tournament results is needed.”

People can sign up for free at TrophyCatchFlorida.com to earn a chance to win a Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury Marine and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system and electronic charting by Avionics. While on the site, people can explore the photo gallery and search for catches by water body, county, angler or size class.