FWC’s TrophyCatch program celebrates 6 successful seasons

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program celebrated six years of trophy bass conservation at its annual Hall of Fame ceremony held at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Orlando. During the past six seasons, TrophyCatch has awarded prizes for the catch and release of more than 8,000 largemouth bass. There are 54 Hall of Fame anglers in the program to date.

“We want to thank Bass Pro Shops and all of our partners for their continued commitment to the conservation of Florida’s trophy bass fishery,” said Jon Fury, FWC’s Director for the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “And of course, TrophyCatch wouldn’t be possible without our anglers’ willingness to participate in this program. It truly is a unique collaboration between anglers, partners and the FWC to ensure that future generations can experience the same thrill of a lifetime that these Hall of Fame anglers did when they reeled in their trophy bass.”

Seven Hall of Fame anglers were recognized for their catch and release of a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or heavier in Florida. One angler, Mark Lemieux, was recognized for his two Hall of Fame catches. The Hall of Fame anglers each received Bass Pro Shops gift cards, Spiderwire merchandise, a custom fiberglass replica mount made by New Wave Taxidermy and a plaque from American Registry commemorating their catch. The Season 6 Champion, Michael Donohue, received the TrophyCatch trophy for catching and releasing the heaviest bass of the season at 15 pounds, 11 ounces, caught in O.L. Peacock Sr. Park in Port St. Lucie.

The TrophyCatch “Big Bag Prize” was awarded to Mark Lemieux for his catch and release of the five heaviest TrophyCatch-approved bass in Season 6 for a total combined weight of 63.75 pounds. Lemieux received a Lake County Tourism prize pack of a three-day two-night stay at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Lake County and a guided fishing trip with professional angler Tim Frederick, along with a new fishing pole from Enigma.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between the FWC, anglers and fishing industry leaders such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, document and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com, showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass.

The FWC encourages anglers to join TrophyCatch as citizen scientists that assist in fisheries management and the conservation of Florida’s lakes and rivers. A new TrophyCatch mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email Amber Nabors at Amber.Nabors@MyFWC.com.