The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) just concluded Season 3 of the TrophyCatch citizen-science, conservation rewards program for anglers who catch, document and release largemouth bass greater than 8 pounds. One angler caught the biggest bass in three seasons and, for the first time, a woman joins the ranks of Hall of Fame winners in a big way.
Now it is time to celebrate. FWC staff will honor the 15 lucky anglers who entered a total of 17 Hall of Fame bass weighing more than 13 pounds each at a ceremony Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Bass Pro Shops in Orlando.
Hall of Fame anglers receive a free fiberglass replica of their first catch prepared by New Wave Taxidermy, gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, a SpiderWire sweatshirt and sunglasses, a Fitzgerald rod and Glen Lau DVD.
They also receive 10 extra chances to win a Phoenix Bass Boat with a Mercury outboard and Power-Pole anchoring system in a random drawing of all TrophyCatch registrants. Every angler who registers for TrophyCatch, whether he or she submitted a fish or not, is entered for one chance to win the TrophyCatch Phoenix Bass Boat. The drawing is typically in November and the boat given away in December.
Bass Pro Shops, host of the event, is a major sponsor of TrophyCatch (TrophyCatchFlorida.com) and awards gift cards for each of the three club levels: The Lunker Club (8.0-9.9 pounds; $100), The Trophy Club (10.0-12.9 pounds; $150) and the Hall-of-Fame Club (greater than 13 pounds; $200). TrophyCatch requires each bass to be legally caught and released after photographing the entire bass (head to tail) on a scale.
Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, will be at the event with KP Clements, TrophyCatch director, to present the rewards.
“TrophyCatch is providing FWC biologists with important scientific information to better manage Florida’s valuable freshwater fisheries,” Champeau said. “It is a great example of citizen-science supported by corporate partners to ensure that Florida remains the ‘Fishing Capital of the World.’”
Keith Allen from the American Outdoors Fund will award the angler who caught the heaviest verified bass of Season 3 with the TrophyCatch Championship ring. Seth Chapman caught a 15-pound, 11-ounce bass last March from Kingsley Lake, Clay County, to claim not only the largest bass this season but for all three seasons. Former season winners include Bob Williams, Season 1, and Brooks Morrell, Season 2.
Porschia Gabrielse is TrophyCatch’s first female Hall of Fame winner. She did it in style with her largest verified bass weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces. It was just one of three Hall of Fame entries she submitted. She is now the overall leader with 41 approved submissions.
Other anglers with bass over 15 pounds this season included Len Andrews, George Smock and George Canova. Among the 15 Hall of Famers, four of them are out-of-state residents, emphasizing how important recreational fishing is to tourism.
Join the FWC Dec. 11 to celebrate these great anglers and their willingness to provide important data to FWC for conservation and releasing what for many would be a catch of a lifetime. Also “Like” us at Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida to see more about each of these anglers and the latest TrophyCatches as well as to learn who the finalists are for this year’s random Phoenix boat drawing and to learn when and where the boat will be given away. Subscribe to YouTube.com/TrophyCatchFlorida to check out past winners and be notified when the new winners’ videos are posted.