TrophyCatch launches new, enhanced website for conservation-minded anglers
In preparation for season three of TrophyCatch, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launched a new and highly improved website to facilitate gathering data on Florida’s famed trophy largemouth bass and to reward anglers for releasing them alive.
TrophyCatch is an incentive-based conservation program designed for anglers who catch-and-release largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds in Florida. There are three different tiers and two bonus categories offering the opportunity to win prizes:
- The Lunker Club (8-9.9 pounds) ̶ $100 in gift cards, a short-sleeve T-shirt, certificate and decal.
- The Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds) ̶ $150 in gift cards, a short-sleeve T-shirt, certificate and decal.
- The Hall of Fame Club (greater than 13 pounds) ̶ a $500 fiberglass mount, $200 in gift cards, a duffel bag, hoodie and other apparel, Glen Lau DVD, certificate and decal, worth approximately $1,000.
- The biggest bass of the season wins a $3,000 championship ring from the American Outdoors Fund, and if it happens to come from a major water body in Osceola County, Experience Kissimmee chips in $10,000 in cash. The current leader is J. Morrell, with a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass caught and released on Lake Kingsley, last March.
- One lucky registered angler will win a $40,000 Phoenix bass boat, powered by Mercury Marine and equipped with a Power-Pole. Besides getting a chance at the boat just for registering, every verified catch provides 10 extra chances for the drawing, which is conducted at the end of the season. TrophyCatch seasons run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 each year.
“Anglers should carefully follow catch-and-release guidelines for these big bass and document the catch through a photograph of the entire bass on a scale with the weight clearly legible,” said Tom Champeau, director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. The new TrophyCatchFlorida.com website makes it easy to register and review the rules and prizing details. Anglers should remember to take a camera and scale, and perhaps a tape measure to document the catch quickly and safely before releasing it.
People then simply upload catch photos (up to five) or even an MP4 video clip up to 50 MB in size, complete a simple form and submit. Since this is a citizen-science program, properly verified data helps FWC biologists enhance, conserve and promote trophy bass fishing. This will ultimately benefit anglers, fishing-related businesses and local communities. Corporate partners, including Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Rapala and Bass King Clothing, provide the rewards, in return for carefully documenting these catches and live-releasing them in the same water system where they were caught.
This program provides extremely valuable data and encourages live-release of these older, female bass, so they can continue to challenge other anglers and spawn in their home waters.
The program began in October 2012, and the World Fishing Network was gracious and conservation-minded enough to create the first website free-of-charge. TrophyCatch continues to expand, going from a total of 1,941 registrants and 185 verified club winners in season 1 to 7,903 registrants and 798 winners through the first three-quarters of season 2. Similar growth is anticipated for season 3.
“With additional demands on the website and reward processing, and evolution of the Internet, the enhancements that our new partnership with Brandt Information Services brings are sure to be appreciated by TrophyCatch participants,” said KP Clements, the TrophyCatch director. Clements also encourages anglers to subscribe to YouTube.com/TrophyCatchFlorida and to “like” FaceBook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida to keep up with developments. The new website integrates these social media resources so that anglers can brag about their catches with their social networks.
The FWC encourages all anglers to check out the site, register to be automatically entered in the boat drawing and be prepared to catch-and-release largemouth bass. One never knows when or where a trophy bass will appear, but checking the gallery and catch records at TrophyCatchFlorida.com may enhance one’s opportunities. From Okeechobee, through the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes to Lake Talquin, trophies are being caught year-round, but trophy bass are also being caught on small local lakes and even golf course ponds. These places are accessible and good bets for opportunities to land a lunker.