SOCIAL CIRCLE — Each year, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division recognizes anglers for big catches.
Anglers who catch a fish that meets or beats a specific weight or length limit for that species are eligible for a free Angler Award.
“The purpose of the Angler Award program is to celebrate and recognize great catches,” said John Biagi, chief of Fisheries Management. “Every fish you reel in might not be a state record, but it might still be a fish to recognize, so we encourage all anglers to check out this program and get rewarded for fishing.”
Fish must be caught in Georgia during the legal angling season for the species, caught on sporting tackle (bush hooks, trot lines, jugs, baskets, nets, etc. are not considered sporting tackle) and be hooked and landed by the entrant. Additionally, the fish must meet either minimum weight or length requirements for that particular species, as noted on the minimum eligible weights and length chart available online at www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards.
In order for a harvested catch to be recognized as an award, follow these steps:
• Do not clean or freeze the fish.
• Keep the fish cool, preferably on ice.
• Weigh the fish as soon as possible on scales certified accurate to the nearest ounce by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the presence of two witnesses who are older than 18 (witnesses must provide names/addresses and telephone numbers and may not be members of the anglers immediate family). Scales that meet these requirements typically are found at grocery stores, WRD offices, some marinas, etc.
• If fish identification is needed, take the fish to a division fisheries management office (locations list available at www.georgiawildlife.com/OfficeContact) as soon as possible and have it positively identified by a fisheries biologist or technician.
• Complete an Angler Award application (www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards) and submit with a clear side view photo of the whole fish. Applications must be received by Jan. 15, 2017 for fish caught in 2016.
In order for a catch-and-release fish to be recognized, anglers should follow these steps:
• Measure the fish to the nearest inch with a standard, English-unit ruler or measuring tape.
• Submit a clear photograph of the fish for proper identification and length verification (the photo should at least show the entire length of the fish and the ruler or tape used to measure the fish). In addition, a photo of the angler with the fish is also required.
• Complete an application and submit with photos. Angler award applications must be received by Jan. 15, 2017 for fish caught in 2016.
Anglers must possess appropriate Georgia fishing licenses to be eligible for recognition. Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1.800.366.2661.
Information regarding angler awards and state record fish can be found at www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards.