That largemouth bass you’ve been battling with is now in your boat. It’s huge. Could it be the new state record? And if it is, how do you certify it?
The present state record for largemouth bass weighed 17.27 pounds and was caught by Billy O’Berry in Polk County in 1986. Although that record has stood over 30 years, recent submissions of giant 15- and 16-pound bass to FWC’s TrophyCatch citizen-science program has anglers and biologists alike asking when the next state record will show up.
This is what that lucky angler will need to know: To properly certify a new Florida state record, an FWC biologist must identify the fish species, and an FWC employee—usually but not necessarily the same individual—must witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check the current state records at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/contact by clicking on “Contact an FWC office” then the “Regional Operations” tab.
Biologists urge anglers not to confuse the state record certification with the FWC’s TrophyCatch program. TrophyCatch is a citizen-science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or more. Nathaniel Scott Kicklighter has just become the current leader for TrophyCatch’s eighth season with a 14 pounds, 11 ounce bass from an unnamed Putnam County lake.
“It’s important to note that while all that is needed to submit a fish for TrophyCatch is a photo of the entire fish on a scale with the weight clearly visible, that photo is not enough to certify a state record,” said Allen Martin, FWC’s North Central Regional Fisheries Administrator.
“A state record catch is an amazing angling accomplishment,” said Martin. “However, if the fish isn’t certified in person by an FWC biologist, the angler won’t get credit for a new state record.”
The Florida largemouth bass is the state freshwater fish and is the best known and most popular game fish in Florida. Found statewide in lakes and rivers, they are commonly located along vegetation, or underwater structures. The species draws anglers from around the world who contribute to the 25.7 million days spent freshwater fishing in Florida annually.