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Virginia

Fishing

Online Recognition Program

“Trophy-sized fish” that are caught in Virginia waters can be registered through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ Online 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-VI: Certificates and patches for registration of 5 trophy fish of different species. Six 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.

Changes/Updates

  • The angler recognition program is now online. Mail-in trophy fish applications will no longer be accepted and trophy fish certificates will no longer be mailed. Anglers can apply online and print their citations at home through Go Outdoors Virginia at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com/
  • New Species have been added to the program including black crappie, white crappie, saugeye, fallfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, and other sunfish.
  • A Master Level VI is now being offered! For further information and details visit our website at www.virginiawildlife.gov/fishing/trophy-fish/.

Program Policies

  • A photo of the fish is now required for all applications. See below for details about photos.
  • 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. Applications must be received within 1 year for a Trophy Fish Award.

Certifying a Trophy Fish by Weight

  • Take your fish to a store with certified scales or weigh your fish on a personal scale that has been certified by an approved third party. A picture of the fish being properly weighed is required for all trophy fish applications if you want a weight citation. The photo must be clear and legible and show the entire fish on the scale!
  • On the application you will have to include the scale make/model, the certification date, maximum weight of the scale, and who certified the scale whether it was the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) or another scale certification company. (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 ruler.
  • Do not lay the ruler 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.
  • If there is an observer, have them verify the length and include them in the witness information on the application. You are required to include a picture of the fish being properly measured on all trophy fish applications. The photo must be clear and legible!
  • Return the fish safely to the water if desired.
    How to measure a fish

Trophy Fish
Lengths and Weights

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

Species

Length

Weight

Black Crappie

15”

2 lbs.

Blue Catfish

38”

30 lbs.

Bluegill

11”

1 lbs.

Bowfin (Grindle)

30”

10 lbs.

Brook Trout

16”

2 lbs.

Brown Trout

25”

5 lbs.

Chain Pickerel

24”

4 lbs.

Channel Catfish

30”

12 lbs.

Common Carp

34”

20 lbs.

Fallfish

14”

1 lb. 4 oz.

Flathead Catfish

40”

25 lbs.

Freshwater Drum

24”

6 lbs.

Gar

40”

10 lbs.

Hybrid Striped Bass**

24”

8 lbs.

Largemouth Bass

22”

8 lbs.

Muskellunge

40”

15 lbs.

Northern Pike

30”

6 lbs.

Rainbow Trout

22”

4 lbs.

Redear Sunfish

11”

1 lbs.

Rock Bass

12”

1 lb.

Sauger*

18”

2 lbs.

Saugeye

23”

4 lbs.

Smallmouth Bass

20”

5 lbs.

Striped Bass

37”

20 lbs.

Sunfish (other)

10”

1 lbs.

Walleye

25”

5 lbs.

White Bass

16”

2 lbs.

White Crappie

15”

2 lbs.

White Perch

13”

1 lb. 4 oz.

Yellow Perch

12”

1 lb. 4 oz.

Recognition badges