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Entries in TrophyCatch (36)

Thursday
Mar082018

Tagging Studies Help States Manage Bass Fisheries

Tagged bass from Florida's Lake Eustis

Tagging studies are among the most important management tools for fisheries biologists.

"Biologists primarily use tagging studies to estimate annual catch and harvest rates for fish populations to help managers set regulations that sustain healthy bass populations," said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which is conducting three studies that range from a statewide look at trophy bass to one targeting fish in a single lake. 

"These studies also engage anglers in the scientific process, helping connect researchers and managers to the stakeholders they serve and validate the science on which management decisions are made."

A study begins with researchers collecting, tagging, and releasing fish. Each tag has a phone number on it so anglers can report information about their catch. In some cases, tags also have monetary rewards associated with them to encourage angler response.

In Florida, biologists use 3.5-inch yellow plastic dart tags, attached on the left side near the dorsal fin.

"If you catch a tagged bass, clip the tag close to the fish's back and save the tag," FWC explained. "Anglers are not obligated to release tagged bass, but must comply with harvest regulations.

"When you report the tag, an FWRI (Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) member will ask a few brief questions about your catch and help you claim the monetary reward.

"Remember to check each bas you catch. Sometimes algae covers the tag, making it somewhat difficult to see."

The trophy-size bass study is Florida's most ambitious, designed to evaluate the influence of the TrophyCatch program. One year before the program started in 2012, biologists tagged bass weighing 8 pounds or more in fisheries across the state.

"They used data collected during that period to establish a baseline for catch and harvest rates," FWC said. "Biologists estimate that anglers caught approximately 21 percent of the tagged bass, and harvested 4 percent during the baseline year. "They also found that bass weighing more than 10 pounds were harvested at a higher rate, primarily for taxidermy, than smaller bass."

Biologists also are conducting a reward-based tagging study in 16 lakes in northwestern Florida to measure catch and harvest rates and a stock assessment tagging study in Lake Eustis on the Harris Chain.

"Biologists will use data from tag reports (on Eustis) to estimate the percentage of bass caught and harvested each year," FWC said.

"They will combine this information with other data and provide it to mangers, who can then determine if the current length and bag limits are appropriate or need to be adjusted.

"As a secondary objective," it continued, "biologists are using what they learn from the tag returns, along with data from creel surveys and other information, to determine the best way to estimate the total number of bass in a lake."

Tuesday
Mar062018

Five Years In, TrophyCatch Exceeds Expectations, Reveals Where Big Bass Most Often Are Caught

Five years in, TrophyCatch has exceeded expectations, according to Tom Champeau, fisheries chief for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

"We're really happy with the way that the program has grown," he added. "We've had more than 6,000 submissions. And that's provided us with a lot of insights as to where big fish are in Florida, when they are caught, and the frequency with which they are caught.

"It really helps us (for managing fisheries)."

TrophyCatch is a citizen-science conservation rewards program for bass anglers, which emphasizes live-release of largemouth bass weighing eight pounds and heavier. During the first five years, 47 bass weighing 13 pounds or more were reported, with the largest checking in at 16-12.

It was caught in a "neighborhood pond" on March 18, 2017.

One of the biggest surprises to come out of TrophyCatch has been the number of trophy bass taken in residential retention and golf course ponds, Champeau said.

"These ponds are everywhere in Florida, and we can look at how they're managed," he added. "They tell us that the big fish are out there and that even people fishing from the bank can catch them."

Kingsley Lake, a 2,000-acre semi-private fishery in the northeastern part of the state, also yielded unexpected productivity.  Hundreds of bass weighing 8 pounds or better were caught there, including  13 that weighed 13 pounds or more and two that topped 15.

"Kingsley is a sinkhole lake, and we have others like that," the fisheries chief said.

On the flip side, Lake Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Chain, with more than 100,000 acres of public water, topped public waters for entries.    "We predicted that," Champeau said.

Likely of most interest to anglers, data from five years of TrophyCatch combined with information from a trophy bass tagging program has allowed FWC to extrapolate that anglers annually catch between 2,500 and 4,500 bass weighing 8 pounds or more, from a statewide pool of 15,000 to 30,000 trophy fish.

"Those are all the big bass that we know about (reported via TrophyCatch) and those we don't know about," said FWC researcher Drew Dutterer. "Those statistics have been consistent across five years."

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

Champeau is also pleased that TrophyCatch has helped promote freshwater fishing in general and especially conservation and catch-and-release.

"A lot of fish were returned that might otherwise have been mounted," he said. "It (TrophyCatch) has been a great tool for teaching anglers how to handle fish. We've encouraged immediate release and improved survival."

Finally, TrophyCatch also has helped FWC built partnerships with the fishing industry and manufacturers, as sponsors of the program, as well as the media.

"Hopefully, they've seen the benefits too, both for conservation and their businesses," Champeau said.

Friday
Feb092018

Florida Waters Yield Big Bass

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, Guide Kip Grunloh put his client on a big one at Florida's Lake Tohopekliga on the Kissimmee Chain. Caught on a shiner, the huge bass weighed 14-10. She was released.

And woman in photo below caught this estimated 10-pounder on a Zara Spook Friday on Lake Okeechobee.

Both fish are large enough for entry in Florida's TrophyCatch program, which requires that a bass weigh at least 8 pounds.

During the first five years of the program,  anglers entered more than 6,000 fish, with 47 bass weighing 13 pounds or more and the largest checking in at 16-12. It was caught a little more than a year ago in a "neighborhood pond."

Tuesday
Feb062018

Texas Expands ShareLunker Program

More anglers will be eligible to participate in Texas' Toyota ShareLunker program in 2018, as Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) announces big changes in the strategy designed to grow bigger bass for the state's fisheries.

First, the program that began in 1986 now is year-around, instead of beginning in the fall and ending in spring. But most importantly, bass weighing 8 pounds and more now are eligible, a qualification identical to that of Florida's TrophyCatch.

“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, program coordinator.

“This year, for the first time ever, anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science.

"We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”

ShareLunker now has four levels: Lunker Legacy Class, Lunker Legend Class, Lunker Elite Class, and Lunker Class.

Lunker Legacy is awarded to anglers who loan bass of 13 pounds or larger during the spawning period from Jan. 1 to March 31

"These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker," TPW said.

Lunker Legend will apply to those who enter a largemouth bass of 13 pounds or more from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, while Lunker Elite is for anglers catching a bass weighing from 10 to 12.99 pounds. Anglers who enter a bass of at least 8 pounds or 24 inches in length from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 will earn Lunker Class recognition.

All participants in the latter three will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit, containing branded merchandise, fishing tackle, an achievement decal, and entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license.

Anglers who catch qualifying fish can enter them using a new ShareLunker mobile application with their smartphones. It is free to download on iTunes and Google Play, as well as on the new ShareLunker website. Digital entry forms will allow anglers to submit photos of their fish being measured, weighed, and held. Additionally, anglers will be able to provide genetic samples of their fish by collecting and sending scales to TPW using instructions from the application and website.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important.

"We need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will  attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked in the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, Meanwhile, genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center  and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state.

"We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program."

Wednesday
Dec202017

Texas' TrophyCatch Expands Opportunities For Anglers

 

For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. The program also has a new logo and look that conveys the excitement of catching a lunker bass.

“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator.

“This year for the first time ever anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science. We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”


The four new levels of achievement are as follows:

Lunker Legacy Class: Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31. Additional prizes may be included in both of these prize drawings prior to their entry deadlines.

Lunker Legend Class: Anglers who enter a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Elite Class: Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Class: Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

A new logo and new tagline, “Bigger Better Bass,” highlight the branding changes to the program, which also includes new Toyota ShareLunker branded merchandise for prizes, updated marketing materials and a new website and mobile application to make it easy to enter your catch in the program and keep up with the latest ShareLunker news

Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their smartphone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.

In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important – we need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will also attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state. We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program.”

For program updates, photos and to keep up with Texas lunker catches, join the ShareLunker community online at Facebook.

More details on the shopping spree and other prizes for ShareLunker entries will be finalized and shared in the near future.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.