Florida’s TrophyCatch Program Begins 2nd Decade Honoring Anglers Landing Giant Bass

Bass Pro Shops kicks off the upcoming 2023 fishing season in style.

Largemouth bass held up by angler
Grant Smelcer with his 14-pound, 4-ounce bass. Courtesy TrophyCatch

Florida’s highly successful TrophyCatch program is slated to recognize the 2022 winner Grant Smelcer on Dec. 10 who claimed the state’s Hall of Fame Championship bass title.

Smelcer won by catching and releasing a massive 14-pound, 4-ounce bass from Porter Lake in Washington County on Mar. 5 last year. Porter Lake is in the Florida Panhandle, in the Econfina Creek WMA, west of Tallahassee.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is celebrating the 14 anglers making the Hall of Fame for catching, documenting and releasing bass weighing 13 pounds or more in state waters. The awards ceremony is at the Bass Pro Shops in Palm Bay, Fla. on Dec. 10.

“We are excited to recognize these giant catches from TrophyCatch’s 10th season, caught throughout the Sunshine State,” says FWC Commissioner Gary Lester. “It is incredible to see participation from our Florida anglers and visitors fishing for our legendary largemouth bass. There have been more than 13,500 approved TrophyCatch bass since the program started with new lunkers being reported almost every day.”

TrophyCatch is a citizen-science promotional conservation program for anglers who catch, document and release largemouth bass 8 pounds and heavier throughout Florida, reports FWC. The primary goals of the program are to promote freshwater fishing, encourage anglers, collect catch data to help with bass management, and to work with industry partners for fisheries conservation.

A key feature of TrophyCatch is collaborating with the fishing industry to reward anglers for participating. This event’s host, Bass Pro Shops, has been an avid TrophyCatch conservation partner since the program’s inception in 2012. Bass Pro Shops supports Florida’s conservation efforts through TrophyCatch with gift cards, and a staple of prizing. Many club winners use their gift cards to replenish their angling gear.

Other industry companies working with the TrophyCatch program include Mercury, Shimano, Berkley, AFTCO, and Power-Pole.

TrophyCatch prizing is based on size, with bigger bass netting bigger rewards. Anglers who caught Hall of Fame largemouths weighing 13 pounds or greater are rewarded with a replica mount representing their bass from Gray Taxidermy, a customized plaque from American Registry many more high-value fishing prizes.

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