Trophy Bass Program
The Florida Trophy Bass Project is a new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) initiative with a directed focus on trophy bass management. Through trophy bass management, documentation, and promotion the Florida Trophy Bass Project will ensure Florida remains the Trophy Bass Capital of the World. Florida is the home of Florida Largemouth Bass, which are known to grow to trophy size. Due to the presence of quality habitat, Florida Largemouth Bass genetics, and a long growing season, many trophy-sized bass are caught in Florida each year. Even though management of Florida’s resources have not traditionally focused on trophy bass, FWC’s TrophyCatch program documented the catch and release of over 10,000 bass over eight pounds during its first nine seasons!
The Florida Trophy Bass Project has three main components: Management, Documentation, and Promotion
The Management component of the project focuses on managing certain resources specifically for trophy Florida Largemouth Bass. Biologists know that there are several factors that contribute to growing trophy-sized bass. These factors include genetics, water level fluctuation, new reservoir creation, prey availability, appropriate population density, long lived fish, and an appropriate temperature regime. In order to grow trophy bass, especially very large trophy bass (>13 pounds), several factors must come together in the same place at the same time. While some of these factors may occur naturally, biologists can use known and innovative management strategies to maximize these factors. Some of these strategies include harvest regulations, forage stocking, lake renovations, small fish removal, non-lethal aging, selective breeding, and limited entry opportunities with private entities or other agencies.
No matter how many trophy bass are grown and caught in Florida, those catches must be documented and promoted for Florida to be recognized as The Trophy Bass Capital of the World. For nearly 10 years, TrophyCatch has been a very successful program to document the catch and release of trophy bass in Florida with over 10,000 catches greater than eight pounds and over 100 Hall of Fame catches of bass over 13 pounds! TrophyCatch will continue to be an integral part of the Florida Trophy Bass Project and will explore opportunities for growth and expansion to document even more catches of trophy bass in Florida.
In addition to documenting the catches of trophy bass in Florida, those great catches and the resources that produced them must be promoted for anglers throughout Florida and the rest of the country to know how many trophy bass are produced and caught in Florida from a wide variety of resources around the state. TrophyCatch will continue to be essential in promoting such catches, but the agency will also be developing new promotional campaigns to reach a greater variety of audiences around the country.
Through the Florida Trophy Bass Project, not only should the number of trophy bass being caught in Florida be better documented and celebrated, but projects are underway at certain resources to focus management on the production of trophy bass. At these resources, biologists are hoping to grow Florida Largemouth Bass of 15 pounds and larger!