Rules




Trophy Catch Rules

Overview

TrophyCatch is a citizen-science conservation rewards program for bass anglers that emphasizes live-release of largemouth bass weighing eight pounds and heavier. TrophyCatch bass submissions will be accepted year-round and require documentation for verification as explained below. For rewards and rule consistency, however, TrophyCatch is divided into seasons that begin on October 1st and end on September 30th the following year. For instance, Season 1 ran from October 1st, 2012, through September 30th, 2013. To earn rewards, all bass must be caught and submitted within the current season. However, anglers have until October 15th to submit a catch from the prior season. Therefore, announcements of the TrophyCatch champion for each season will not take place until the end of the calendar year.

Anglers must legally catch all fish entered into TrophyCatch, including possessing a proper freshwater license or exemption, in Florida waters using an active hook-and-line method (bush hooks, snatch hooks, set lines, trotlines are excluded as a method to take largemouth bass), and documented following guidelines below.

All bass submitted to TrophyCatch must be immediately released alive in the same water system where they were caught, and all participants must abide by State Regulations, including the length and bag possession limits.

To earn TrophyCatch rewards, and so the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists can use the data in their research, the bass needs to be carefully documented as outlined below.

Submitted documentation will be reviewed by a team of biologists. If the fish’s weight is not clearly visible in the photo, the photo does not show the entire fish, or the submission is questionable in terms of the size of the fish, catch location, method of catch, or if the fish was released alive, the TrophyCatch team may verify or deny the entry based on their professional judgment.

The FWC reserves the right to modify these rules to ensure accurate weight information is collected for research and to ensure the live release of trophy bass back into the water system where they were caught. Decisions by FWC staff to approve or deny catches and/or program participation will be final based on the information submitted by the angler and the biologists’ expertise, experience with trophy-sized bass and fisheries evaluations, including, but not limited to photo analytics results.

 

Table of Contents

1. How to Document your Catch
    1.1. Angler Self-Documents Catch
    1.2. Tournaments
           1.2.1. Online Tournament Documentation
           1.2.2. Email Documentation
           1.2.3. Printed Weight Slip Documentation
    1.3. FWC Witness
2. Photo/Video Requirements
3. Scale Requirements
    3.1. Hand Scales
    3.2. Pan Scales
4. Terms for Participation
5. Awarding of Prizes
6. Inquiries and Submission Review

 

1. How to Document your catch

1.1. Angler Self-Documents Catch

    A. Anglers must submit at least one photograph/video displaying the entire fish from tail-to-scale, with no part of the fish cut out of the photo/video with the weight on the scale clearly legible. For catches to be considered for the TrophyCatch Lake Record program the GPS metadata must be included within the weight photo or video.

Weight, length and girth graphic.

     B. Additional photo/video documentation can assist with processing submissions. Anglers are encouraged but not required, to submit three or four additional photographs/videos of the fish: the whole fish on a measuring board with the length clearly visible, the girth, being released, and/or a brag photo of themselves with their catch.

     C. For catches to be considered for the TrophyCatch Lake Record program the GPS metadata (should) embedded in the submission photo or video. (Waterbody Record Map coming  soon)

1.2. Tournament Catches

    A. TrophyCatch defines a traditional tournament as a fishing event where fish are weighed on an official tournament scale (not weighed by an angler on a personal scale) and consisting of at least 6 registered anglers.

    B. Non-traditional tournaments and catches weighed by an angler on hand-held, basket or personal scale should follow section 1.1 Angler Self Documents Catch to document their catch

         1.2.1. Online Tournament Verification

         • Provide a link to a specific tournament, sponsor, published newspaper, official club/tournament social media page or magazine article website with official tournament results. Tournament results must include your name, verified weight of the individual fish, along with the date and location of the tournament. Use the actual link to a publicly accessible website (no login required) that shows specific catch details.

Weigh-In Screenshot

 

         1.2.2. Email Documentation

         • Designated tournament directors may email official tournament results to TrophyCatch@MyFWC.com

         1.2.3. Printed Weigh Slip Documentation

         • Include a scan or photo of an official printed tournament weigh slip with the tournament information that includes your name, the verified weight of the individual fish, tournament date and location. 

Weigh Slip

 

1.3. FWC Witness

       • If a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) employee or working FWC Volunteer witnesses the weighing of a possible TrophyCatch bass, the angler must include the first and last name of the FWC witness at the time of submission as documentation of applicable catch.

 

2. Photo/Video Requirements

    A. Anglers should submit high resolution photographs (good overall clarity, 3-megapixel camera or above recommended) that are clear enough to validate the submission.

    B. Anglers may upload a video snippet in MP4 format, up to 50 MB in size for one or more of the five photos. Suggested documentation includes beginning with a wide angle showing the entire fish (scanning the fish from the tip of the tail to scale) being properly held on the scale and then zooming in to ensure the weight can be read.

    C. Each digital weight photo/video must be an original unmodified photograph/video (no screenshots or photo of another photo) with GPS metadata remaining embedded.

    D. Supplemental photos/videos holding or releasing the bass, close-ups of the scale with at least half of the fish visible, images of the entire fish on a bump-board or tape-measure, and girth photos are encouraged to be submitted. However, the required photo is of the entire bass, including tagged bass on the scale with the weight clearly visible. See TrophyCare page for proper techniques and tips.

 

3. Scale Requirements

    A. All scales must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

    B. All scales must be properly tared in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

    C. Any modification and/or manipulation of a scale that results in misrepresentation of a bass’ actual weight is grounds for denial of the submission and disinvitation to participate in TrophyCatch.

        3.1. Hand Scales

               A. Hand scales must be held by the designated handle without interfering with or touching the chain, shaft, or the fish while weighing.

               B. Visit TrophyCare for more information on how to use and interpret the weight on your scale.

        3.2. Pan Scales

               • When using a pan scale where a type of weighing bin (e.g., basket, tub, pan etc.) is used to hold the fish on the scale, the submitted photo must include the entire fish and the entire weighing bin clearly showing all sides and corners and the scale with the weight visible.

 

4. Program Terms for Participation 

To participate in TrophyCatch, the registered angler must have caught the submitted fish themselves, in accordance with the freshwater recreational fishing regulations of the State of Florida at the time of the catch. This includes, but is not limited to:

    A. The angler must be properly licensed or have a statutory exemption.

    B. The angler must use legal gear, meaning they must use an active hook-and-line method, which does not include bush hooks, trotlines, or bow, and follow length and bag limits of the waterbody.

    C. The angler must be fishing in fresh water or brackish waters within the state of Florida, where the angler has legal access.

    D. Each submission must be a unique catch and resubmission of a single catch is grounds for denial of the submission and disinvitation to participate in TrophyCatch.

    E. The angler must abide by all size, bag, season, and location-specific fishing regulations.

    F. Anglers who demonstrate a trend of submitting bass that fall outside of the established quality control guidelines may be required to provide additional documentation.

    G. Anglers must attest that they successfully live-released the bass in the water system where it was caught (after documenting it) and that it was able to swim off. Bass submitted to the program cannot be harvested or relocated.

    H. Bass must be handled in accordance with TrophyCare guidelines and live-released in order to qualify for TrophyCatch.

    I. Youth under 18 years of age are required to have their parent or guardian’s approval to participate.

    J. FWC employees including OPS are not eligible to win prizes other than picture and certificate level recognition.

    K. Submissions to TrophyCatch that are legally caught, but do not meet the program’s criteria will be considered for inclusion for the Big Catch program (BigCatchFlorida.com).

    L. To be recognized as an official TrophyCatch Waterbody Record, the catch must be approved as a TrophyCatch Club Winner. In order for catches to be considered for the TrophyCatch Waterbody Record program the GPS metadata must be included within the weight photo or video.

    M. Anglers should demonstrate respect for fellow anglers, TrophyCatch partners, FWC staff and the general public at all times.

    N. TrophyCatch reserves the right to limit prizing in the event of multiple submissions from an angler during the same season.

    O. Your submission to this program, including photos and other data provided to the TrophyCatch program , constitutes a release and license to TrophyCatch and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for use without compensation in perpetuity. Such use would typically include research, informational, and other public purposes, such as being posted on TrophyCatchFlorida.com, BigCatchFlorida.com, social media outlets, other third-party promotional use such as websites or publications, and in other related news releases, articles, brochures, advertisements, or reports.

    P. TrophyCatch participants are also eligible to participate in varying monthly promotions, which will be advertised each month on the TrophyCatch Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida) and Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/fishreelflorida/). The prizes for these promotions vary from the TrophyCatch general prizing, but TrophyCatch program rules must still be followed for participants to be eligible to receive the monthly promotion prizes. Monthly promotion rules and prizes may vary and the FWC and TrophyCatch reserves the right to modify monthly promotion rules and prizes. Monthly promotion rules will be listed with each promotion announcement. By participating in any Facebook promotions, the participant agrees that their participation constitutes a complete release of Facebook and that this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. TrophyCatch and the FWC are not responsible for the actions, content, information, or data of persons submitting photos or other third parties, on Instagram or Facebook.

    Q. This program receives Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility, or if you need more information, please write to: Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights Department of the Interior 1849 C Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20240.

 

5. Awarding of Prizes

    A. Neither the FWC nor the State of Florida endorse any individual company, and each company is solely responsible for their products/services and fulfillment of any offers.

    B. Product prizes may require additional processing and delivery time.

    C. Winners of the Phoenix boat drawing will be selected from qualified entries. Odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible registrants and approved catches received.

    D. Participants are responsible for all applicable taxes on both cash and product prizes/awards.

    E. By entering into the drawing and/or by accepting any prizes, each entrant hereby releases and holds harmless the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, drawing sponsor(s), drawing prize provider(s), and any of their commissioners, directors, officers, employees, volunteers, agents and representatives from and against any and all liabilities, costs, expenses, claims, and damages for which the FWC, drawing sponsor(s), and/or drawing prize provider(s) might otherwise become liable by reason of any accidents, or injuries to or death of any persons, or damage to property, or both, in any manner arising or resulting from, caused by, connected with or related to entering the drawing and/or accepting any prizes, regardless of how, where, or when such injury, death or damage occurs even if caused by the negligence of the FWC, drawing sponsor(s), and/or drawing prize provider(s).

    F. State laws prohibit false claims or fraud when claiming prizes; moreover, a decision is at TrophyCatch Director’s discretion and is final , if the legality or size of the catch is in question. FWC reserves the right to deny prizing or further participation in the TrophyCatch program or any other FWC-affiliated program if FWC determines that a submission was submitted fraudulently. Fraudulent submissions may include, but are not limited to, submitting photos not belonging to the individual claiming them to be theirs, altering photos or documents, claiming fish was caught in an area where it was not, recording a false weight or length, and any other act of dishonesty or fraud meant to circumvent the rules of this program. Any person who is denied an entry or prize will be notified.

 

6. Inquiries and Submission Review

    A. All program related questions please call us at 1-855-FL-Trophy (1-855-358-7674)

    B. All prizing and program questions please email us at TrophyCatch@MyFWC.com

    C. For questions about Fishing Licenses or Regulations please contact Licensing and Permitting

    D. For State Record questions please contact the appropriate Regional Office.

    E. If an angler wants to request a review for a submission that falls under Rule 4.K., they must use the TrophyCatch Submission Review Form on the TrophyCatch website to submit a review request within 30 days following the date of the automated email or within the current season whichever comes first. Any Submission Review Form received after the 30-day appeal deadline will be reviewed without affecting the outcome of the catch. An individual catch can only be reviewed once.

    F. The submission review shall take place no later than 30 business days from the reciept date of the written form. The TrophyCatch Director will share the outcome of the review and possible recommendations.

 

Fish Handling Guidelines

For fish handling guidelines visit TrophyCare.

TrophyCare Logo

State Record Rules

There are 33 eligible species of freshwater fishes for which the FWC maintains records. Certified state record fish must:

  • Be legally caught using an active hook-and-line method by sport fishing methods
  • Be identified by a Commission biologist
  • Be weighed by a Commission employee on a certified scale with an up-to-date certification stamp
  • Be caught by an angler with a valid freshwater fishing license or exemption

Anglers may be required to submit to a lie-detector test prior to certification of a state record.

  • Uncertified state records are believed accurate based on reliable witnesses and other evidence but are not certifiable, or they were caught by other than legal sport fishing methods. To set a new record, you need to exceed the certified records; the uncertified records are provided just for information. If you catch such a fish, contact the appropriate regional office. These records are updated as soon as they are verified.

Please note the FWC does not maintain state records for all species, and does not maintain line-classes. The International Game Fish Association is an additional source for certifying records, including length records, although neither group automatically recognizes the other's records due to differences in certification requirements.

 

Battle of the Lakes

Guidelines for Battle of the Lakes Contest

1. Participation

A. Participation in the Battle of the Lakes requires that all participants adhere to the TrophyCatch Program Rules outlined at: https://www.trophycatchflorida.com/rules.aspx

B. In order to participate in the Battle of the Lakes contest, participants must attest that the bass was caught and released alive at Orange Lake or Headwaters Lake/Fellsmere Water Management Area. Bass that are submitted as “Unnamed Waterbody” will not qualify for the Battle of the Lakes contest.

C. FWC FTE and OPS employees, as well as active FWC volunteers, are not eligible to win prizes other than recognition of participation.

 

2. Determination of Winning Waterbody

A. Winning waterbody will be determined by the cumulative sum of the weight of all approved TrophyCatch submissions for each waterbody during Season 11, which begins October 1, 2022 and ends September 30, 2023.

B. Only approved TrophyCatch submissions that indicate Orange Lake, or Headwaters/Fellsmere/Egan (all names associated with Fellsmere Water Management Area) will be counted in the total weight for Orange Lake and Headwaters/Fellsmere.

C. If there is a tie in cumulative weight of approved submissions for the two waterbodies during Season 11, then the tie will be broken by the heaviest approved TrophyCatch submission during the season for each waterbody. If a tie remains, then the tie will be broken by the waterbody with the most total approved submissions during the season. In the event a tie still exists after both tie breakers, then the result will be a draw.

 

3. Awarding of Prizes

A. Once the winning waterbody has been determined, all anglers that submitted approved TrophyCatch bass for the winning waterbody, during Season 11, will be entered into a random drawing, conducted by the professional angler representing the winning lake, for a prize pack of various Lowrance and Mercury apparel or accessory items. Odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible participants with approved catches received for that waterbody during Season 11.

B. If the contest ends in a draw, then all participants that submitted TrophyCatch bass for either waterbody will be entered into the random drawing.

C. If Orange Lake wins, then the prize pack will have at least one item autographed by Shaw Grigsby. If Headwaters Lake wins, then the prize pack will have at least one item autographed by JT Kenney.

D. By entering into the drawing and/or by accepting any prizes, each entrant hereby releases and holds harmless the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, drawing sponsor(s), drawing prize provider(s), and any of their commissioners, directors, officers, employees, volunteers, agents, and representatives from and against any and all liabilities, costs, expenses, claims, and damages for which the FWC, drawing sponsor(s), and/or drawing prize provider(s) might otherwise become liable by reason of any accidents, or injuries to or death of any persons, or damage to property, or both, in any manner arising or resulting from, caused by, connected with or related to entering the drawing and/or accepting any prizes, regardless of how, where, or when such injury, death or damage occurs even if caused by the negligence of the FWC, drawing sponsor(s), and/or drawing prize provider(s).

E. State laws prohibit false claims or fraud when claiming prizes; moreover, a decision is at TrophyCatch Director’s discretion and is final, if the legality or size of the catch is in question, then FWC reserves the right to deny prizing or further participation in the TrophyCatch program or any other FWC-affiliated program if FWC determines that a submission was submitted fraudulently. Fraudulent submissions may include, but are not limited to, submitting photos not belonging to the individual claiming them to be theirs, altering photos or documents, claiming a fish was caught in an area where it was not, recording a false weight or length, and any other act of dishonesty or fraud meant to circumvent the rules of this contest and program. Any person who is denied an entry or prize will be notified.