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Virginia Angler Recognition Program

Fishing Regulations Virginia Freshwater Fishing

“Trophy-sized fish” that are caught in Virginia waters can be registered through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Angler Recognition Program. This program grants:

Trophy Fish Awards: Certificates for registration of trophy size fish.

Expert Angler Awards: Certificates and patches for registration of 10 trophy fish of the same species.

Master Angler Awards I-V: Certificates and patches for registration of 5 trophy fish of different species. Five successive levels.

Angler of the Month: Pins for registration of the largest trophy fish of each species, by certified weight, each month.

Angler of the Year: Pins for registration of the largest trophy fish of each species, by certified weight, each year.

Creel of the Year: Recognizes the angler who catches and registers the most trophy-sized fish from January 1 through December 31, annually. Accolade presented is determined annually.

Program Policies

  • The fish must be caught in Virginia waters (within the state line on boundary waters), the freshwater part of the Potomac River that borders Virginia, or above the designated Fresh­water/Saltwater line on tidal waters.
  • The fish must be caught legally (in accordance with Virginia Freshwater Fishing Regulations) by noncommercial methods.
  • The fish must meet or exceed the minimum weight or length.
  • The fish must be registered according to the proper procedures. Fish may be certified by weight, or length, or both. Weights from store-certified scales or personal scales will be accepted. Personal scales must be calibrated and certified within a year of date of catch. (See the Trophy Fish page on our website for more information about calibrating and certifying scales.)
  • Applications must be received within 60 days to be eligible for Angler of the Month/Year competition. There is no deadline for submission of a Trophy Fish Award Application.
  • All applicants are encouraged to submit a photo of their catch with each submission.

Certifying a Trophy Fish by Weight

  • Take your fish to a store with certified scales. Have a clerk weigh the fish and complete the witness information on the trophy fish application and include the date the scale was certified.
  • Or, weigh your fish on a personal scale that has been certified. Have an observer witness and verify the weight and fill out the witness information or if a witness is not available, take a picture of the fish on the scale, displaying the weight of the fish. Fill out the date the scale was certified, the company or organization certifying the scale, the make and model and the maximum weight of the scale. (Scales must be certified within a year prior to the date of catch. See the Trophy Fish page on our website for more information about calibrating and certifying scales.)

Qualifying a Trophy Fish by Length and Photo

  • Lay the fish on top of or beside a flat measuring rule.
  • Do not lay the rule over the curvature of the fish’s body.
  • Close the fish’s mouth and squeeze the tail lobes together.
  • Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail to the nearest 1⁄4-inch. See diagram below.
  • Have an observer verify the length and complete the witness information on the trophy fish application. Or, take a picture of the fish next to the ruler and submit the photo with application.
  • Return the fish safely to the water if desired.

Trophy Fish
Lengths and Weights

To qualify as a trophy, fish must meet or exceed the following lengths or weights.




Largemouth Bass


8 lbs.

Smallmouth Bass


5 lbs.

Striped Bass


20 lbs.

Hybrid Striped Bass*


8 lbs.

Rock Bass


1 lb.

White Bass


2 lbs. 8 ozs.

Bowfin (Grindle)


10 lbs.

Flathead Catfish


25 lbs.

Channel Catfish


12 lbs.

Blue Catfish


30 lbs.

Common Carp


20 lbs.

Chain Pickerel


4 lbs.



2 lbs.

Freshwater Drum


6 lbs.



10 lbs.



15 lbs.

Northern Pike


6 lbs.

Yellow Perch


1 lb. 4 oz.

White Perch


1 lb. 4 oz.



1 lb.

Brook Trout


2 lbs.

Brown Trout


5 lbs.

Rainbow Trout


4 lbs.



5 lbs.



2 lbs.