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Size and Weight Requirements for Trophy Fish

To qualify as a trophy catch in Virginia waters, fish must meet or surpass specific lengths or weights, as outlined below:

Species Size Weight
Black Crappie 15 inches 2 pounds
Blue Catfish 38 inches 30 pounds
Bluegill 11 inches 1 pound
Bowfin (Grindle) 30 inches 10 pounds
Brook Trout 16 inches 2 pounds
Brown Trout 25 inches 5 pounds
Chain Pickerel 24 inches 4 pounds
Channel Catfish 30 inches 12 pounds
Common Carp 34 inches 20 pounds
Fallfish 14 inches 1 pound 4 ounces
Flathead Catfish 40 inches 25 pounds
Freshwater Drum 24 inches 6 pounds
Gar 40 inches 10 pounds
Hybrid Striped Bass** 24 inches 8 pounds
Largemouth Bass 22 inches 8 pounds
Muskellunge 40 inches 15 pounds
Northern Pike 30 inches 6 pounds
Rainbow Trout 22 inches 4 pounds
Redear Sunfish 11 inches 1 pound
Rock Bass 12 inches 1 pound
Sauger* 18 inches 2 pounds

Note: Clinch and Powell rivers only
Lake Anna, Claytor Lake, Carvins Cove, and Flannagan Res. only

Trophy-sized fish caught in Virginia waters can be registered through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ Online Angler Recognition Program. This program offers various awards, including:

  • Trophy Fish Awards: Certificates for registering trophy-sized fish.
  • Expert Angler Awards: Certificates and patches for registering 10 trophy fish of the same species.
  • Master Angler Awards I-VI: Certificates and patches for registering 5 trophy fish of different species. Six successive levels.
  • Angler of the Month: Pins for registering the largest trophy fish of each species, by certified weight, monthly.
  • Angler of the Year: Pins for registering the largest trophy fish of each species, by certified weight, annually.
  • Creel of the Year: Recognizes the angler with the most registered trophy-sized fish from January 1 to December 31, annually. Accolades presented annually.

Angler Recognition Program Enhancements

Online Application Process

In a significant update, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has transitioned its Angler Recognition Program to an online platform. Anglers can now conveniently apply for recognition through the Go Outdoors Virginia website at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com. This streamlined process eliminates the need for traditional mail-in applications and allows anglers to print their citations directly from home.

Expanded Species List

Exciting news for anglers! The program has expanded its species list to include several new additions. Anglers can now seek recognition for catches of black crappie, white crappie, saugeye, fallfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, and other sunfish varieties. This expansion provides anglers with more opportunities for recognition and celebrates a broader range of fishing achievements.

Introduction of Master Level VI

To recognize anglers' exceptional accomplishments, the program now offers the prestigious Master Level VI. This advanced level acknowledges anglers who have demonstrated outstanding fishing skills and achieved remarkable success in their endeavors. Anglers can aspire to reach this highest tier of recognition and showcase their dedication to the sport.

For comprehensive information and detailed guidelines regarding these program enhancements, anglers are encouraged to visit the official website of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources at www.virginiawildlife.gov/fishing/trophy-fish/.

Program Policies for Angler Recognition

Mandatory Photo Requirement

Effective immediately, all applications for angler recognition must include a clear photo of the caught fish. The photograph serves as vital evidence of the catch and is an integral part of the application process. See below for detailed instructions on photo submission.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for recognition, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Catch Location: The fish must be caught within Virginia waters, including boundary waters within the state line, the freshwater segment of the Potomac River bordering Virginia, or above the designated Freshwater/Saltwater line on tidal waters.

  2. Legal Catch: The fish must be caught legally, adhering to Virginia Freshwater Fishing Regulations, and through noncommercial methods.

  3. Minimum Weight or Length: The fish must meet or exceed the minimum weight or length specified for each species.

  4. Proper Registration: The fish must be registered according to the designated procedures. Registration may be based on weight, length, or both. Weight certifications from store-certified scales or personal scales are acceptable. Personal scales must be calibrated and certified within one year of the catch date. Refer to the Trophy Fish page on the official website for detailed information on scale calibration and certification.

Application Deadlines

Applications must be submitted within the specified timeframes to remain eligible for recognition:

  • Angler of the Month/Year Competition: Applications must be received within 60 days to be considered for the Angler of the Month/Year competition.

  • Trophy Fish Award: Applications must be received within one year from the catch date to qualify for a Trophy Fish Award.

Weighing Your Trophy Fish

To certify your trophy fish by weight, follow these steps diligently:

Utilize Certified Scales

Firstly, transport your prized catch to a designated store equipped with certified scales. Alternatively, if opting for personal weighing, ensure your scale has undergone certification by an approved third party. This step is crucial for accuracy and adherence to regulatory standards.

Capture Clear Evidence

A pivotal requirement for all trophy fish applications is a clear and comprehensive photograph showcasing the fish being properly weighed. The image must capture the entirety of the fish on the scale, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Provide Essential Details

Upon application submission, furnish essential information pertaining to the scale utilized. This includes specifying the make and model of the scale, along with pertinent details such as the certification date and the maximum weight capacity of the scale. Moreover, identify the certifying entity, whether it's the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) or an accredited scale certification company.

Stay Within Time Limits

It's imperative to note that scales must undergo certification within a year preceding the date of the catch. Adhering to this timeframe ensures compliance with regulatory measures and bolsters the credibility of your submission.

Measuring Your Trophy Fish

To qualify your trophy fish by length and photo, adhere to these precise instructions:

Proper Measurement Technique

  1. Lay your fish atop or beside a flat measuring ruler, ensuring the ruler does not bend over the curvature of the fish's body.
  2. Gently close the fish's mouth and squeeze the tail lobes together to achieve an accurate measurement.
  3. Using the measuring ruler, determine the length from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail, rounding to the nearest 1⁄4-inch. Refer to the accompanying diagram for clarity and precision.

Witness Verification

If an observer is present during the measurement process, enlist their assistance in verifying the fish's length. Include their information in the designated section of the application to bolster the credibility of your submission.

Capturing Essential Evidence

In addition to accurate measurement, it is imperative to provide visual documentation of the measuring process. Include a clear and legible photograph showcasing the fish being properly measured. This photographic evidence is essential for validating your claim and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Safety and Conservation

Prioritize the well-being of the fish by promptly returning it to the water if desired. Upholding ethical practices in fishing not only promotes conservation efforts but also maintains the integrity of the sport.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.