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Tennessee

Fishing

Fishing

Angler Recognition Program

The Tennessee Angler Recognition Program (TARP) gives anglers an opportunity to have their trophy-size fish recognized by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Anglers of any age, who catch large fish that meet or exceed qualifying lengths, can apply. The TWRA Fisheries Management Division sends these accomplished anglers TARP certificates featuring color reproductions of fish artwork by renowned wildlife artist Joseph R. Tomelleri.

The program is designed to acknowledge anglers for outstanding sportfishing accomplishments, to encourage catch and release of trophy size fish and to provide the TWRA with information on large fish caught throughout the state.

Not to be confused with the State Record Fish program, TARP recognizes anglers who catch trophy-size fish that are not necessarily state records.

Trophy Fish/Master Angler Certificates

TARP features five levels of angler recognition. Anglers catching a fish that meets or exceeds the minimum “trophy” length requirements will receive a Trophy Fish certificate. These certificates feature artwork representing the species caught by the applicant. After anglers submit five trophy-size fish, in any combination, a Master Angler Level I certificate and patch will be awarded at no cost to the angler. Anglers submitting five different trophy-size fish will receive a Master Angler Level II certificate and patch. The Master Angler Level III will be awarded to anglers submitting ten different trophy-size fish. In addition to a certificate and patch, the angler will receive a “tackle package,” courtesy of Bass Pro Shops (Kodak, TN). Master Angler IV will be awarded to anglers submitting fifteen different trophy fish. The award will consist of a certificate, patch and an engraved trophy. The newest level, Master Angler V, will be awarded to anglers submitting twenty different trophy fish, and will receive a certificate, patch and engraved plaque.

How Do You Qualify?

  • The fish must meet or exceed the minimum Trophy Fish Length listed on the right of this page.
  • Persons 13 years of age and older must be licensed anglers and must provide their license number (TWRA #) on the application.
  • The fish must be caught legally (in accordance with Tennessee Sportfishing Regulations) in Tennessee waters, by sportfishing methods only (rod and reel or cane pole).
  • The length of the fish must be verified by either a witness or a photograph. The witness must complete the section on the application and/or the photo must be of the fish lying flat on top of or beside a flat measuring rule or tape and included with the application. Submitted photos may be used on the TWRA web site and in TWRA publications.

If you believe your catch exceeds the current state record for that species, you should immediately contact a TWRA Fisheries Biologist for positive identification of the fish (see State Records).

How Do You Apply?

An application form is located on facing page and online. Complete one application form for each fish you are registering. You may include more than one application form per envelope. If the fish length is being verified by photo, the picture must be enclosed with the application. For each Trophy Fish Certificate only, a $5.00 processing fee, per application, must also be enclosed and mailed within 90 days from the date of catch. Make check or money order payable to TWRA and mail, with the application(s), to the address at the right of the application. Note: a picture of the fish may be requested/required for any submitted application at the discretion of TWRA. The processing fee is non-refundable for non-qualifying applications. For further information about TARP or the State Record Fish program, call (615) 781-6575, or visit www.tnwildlife.org.

Measuring Your Fish

Please refer to the instructions on How to Measure a Fish.

Minimum Trophy Fish Lengths

Species

Length (inches)

Largemouth Bass

22

Spotted Bass

18

Smallmouth Bass

20

Striped Bass

40

Hybrid Striped Bass (Cherokee Bass)

28

White Bass

18

Yellow Bass

11

Black Crappie

14

White Crappie

14

Bluegill

10

Redear Sunfish

11

Rock Bass

10

Sauger

20

Walleye

28

Yellow Perch

11

Muskellunge

40

Brook Trout

10

Brown Trout

26

Rainbow Trout

24

Lake Trout

28

Channel Catfish

28

Blue Catfish

36

Flathead Catfish

36

Common Carp

34

Freshwater Drum

28

Bowfin

26

Longnose Gar

45

Tennessee First Fish Award—FREE!

First Fish Award

The First Fish Award is designed to commemorate that special moment in every boy or girl’s life—the landing of their first fish.

The award is an 8.5 x 11 certificate, suitable for framing, identifying the child, the fish caught, and other details of that special moment. Size of the fish and age of the angler have no bearing, only that the fish is their first and that it was caught in Tennessee.

Visit www.tnwildlife.org or call (615) 781-6575 for further information.

Have You Caught an American Eel?

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking information from the public on the catch or observation of American Eel in Tennessee.

If you catch an American Eel, please provide the following information:

  • Location — GPS latitude/longitude coordinates or precise directions to the site
  • Approximate length and weight
  • Date and time of day caught
  • How it was caught (gear)
  • Type of bait used
  • Photos

American eel (Anguila rostrata) is a fish deemed in need of management. It is illegal to take any fish, crayfish or turtle that is listed as threatened, endangered or in-need-of-management. If it is still alive please release the eel where it was caught. If it is no longer alive, please consider donating the specimen for age and growth studies. Please keep it on ice and place in a plastic bag in the freezer as soon as possible. Please call or email Chris Simpson and Chris.Simpson@tn.gov or (615) 781-6613 to arrange a time and place for pick up of the specimen.

American Eel Illustration