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Angler Recognition Program in Texas
By Todd Driscoll

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) utilizes many methods to monitor the fisheries of public water bodies. Methods include fish sampling techniques (electrofishing, trap netting, and gill netting) and voluntary information gathered from anglers. Data from both fish populations and anglers themselves are vital ingredients of our management programs. Creel surveys may be one method that anglers are familiar with, as we conduct these throughout the year on both Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend reservoirs. Anglers are interviewed, either at boat ramps or on the water, to determine species preferences, catch rates, harvest rates, and how much money they spend to fish. One voluntary program that anglers may not be familiar with is our Angler Recognition Program.

The Angler Recognition Program is split into several different categories: 1)First Fish Award recognition of the first fish caught by anglers of any age, 2) Big Fish Award recognition for catching a trophy class fish of selected species (see Table 1 below), 3) Catch and Release Award recognition for the catch and live release of a trophy class fish of select species (see Table 1), 4) State Records for Public Waters split into rod and reel, fly fishing, bow fishing, and unrestricted categories, 5) State Records for Private Waters rod and reel, fly fishing, and bow fishing categories, and 6) Water Body Records fly fishing, bow fishing, and unrestricted categories.

To participate in this program, information for each type of award must be provided on an official Angler Recognition Award Application, which can be obtained by calling our Inland Fisheries Management office (409-384-9572) or by downloading it from our TPWD website ( There are specific requirements indicated on the application for documenting an award for each type of category and are listed in Table 2. By participating in this program, anglers receive a colorful certificate officially documenting their catch and provide valuable information to TPWD fisheries management programs. Information gathered from this program is used, along with information from our fishery and creel surveys, to manage fisheries in public water bodies. Anglers that have access to the internet can obtain detailed information on this program at Current state and water body records are located at Important details to be aware of include 1) weighing fish within 3 days of catch on certified scales for state, water body, and big fish awards (contact our Inland Fisheries Management office for scale locations), 2) taking photographs of fish, and 3) completing the application within 60 days of catch. Completed applications must be returned to: Angler Recognition Awards, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, 5550 FM 2495, Athens, TX 75751.

I encourage all anglers to consider participating in this program the next time an eligible fish is caught. You not only get recognition from TPWD and certificate suitable for framing, but also provide valuable information about our fisheries. If you have questions concerning this program or the fisheries of our area lakes, stop by the Inland Fisheries office at the Jasper State Fish Hatchery or contact us by phone (409-384-9572) or email ( Good luck and good fishing!

Area species eligible for Big Fish and Catch and Release Awards.   Required information (x) for award categories.
Eligible Species Required Length (in)  

Required Information

State Record

Water Body Record

Big Fish

Catch and Release

Largemouth bass 21  

Angler Information

Spotted bass 16  

Award Categories

Hybrid striped bass 25  

Catch Information

Striped bass 35  

Weight of Fish

X X X  
White bass 15  

Length of Fish

Blue catfish 36  

Witness to Weighing

X X X  
Channel catfish 30  

Witness to Catch and Release

Flathead catfish 45  

Species Verification

X X X  
Black crappie 15  

Photograph of Fish

X X    
White crappie 15  

Affidavit of Angler

Sunfish 10  

Notarized Signature


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