Florida's TrophyCatch program celebrates the first two Hall-of-Fame largemouth bass catches on Lake Istokpoga. Both weighed more than 13 pounds.
Ten-pound largemouth bass frequently are pulled from Florida waters every year.
But, 13-pounders? That's another story.
Lake Istokpoga, located near Lake Placid in Highlands County, turned out two hawgs of that size recently that have been recognized by the state's TrophyCatch program, a partnership between Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists, anglers and fishing industry leaders.
Adrian "Lunker Louie" Echols and Syl Sims, both experienced TrophyCatch anglers, each caught bass weighing more than 13 pounds earlier this month, earning them Hall of Fame recognitions. Largemouth bass over 13 are designated Hall of Fame catches in the TrophyCatch program.
Echols caught a 13-pound, 14-ounce largemouth; Sims caught a 13-4 bucketmouth. Sims' catch came on a fishing rod he was awarded for a Hall of Fame catch last year.
"We are thrilled to celebrate Louie's and Syl's Hall of Fame club catches on Lake Istokpoga," said KP Clements, TrophyCatch director, in an FWC news release. "Both of these gentlemen have numerous catches in the program, which highlights their great skill in catching the bass of a lifetime and their commitment to conservation by submitting their data to TrophyCatch to assist in the management of Florida's trophy bass fisheries."
Since 2012 there have been 430 TrophyCatch largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or more caught at Istokpoga — 347 weighing 8 to 9.99 pounds (Lunker Club designation) and 81 weighing 10 to 12.99 pounds (Trophy Club).
The lunkers caught by Sims and Echols are the first Hall of Fame-approved catches from Istokpoga.
All of the trophy catches were released, the state said.
TrophyCatch Hall of Fame anglers each receive Bass Pro Shops gift cards, Spiderwire merchandise, a custom fiberglass replica mount made by New Wave Taxidermy, an Enigma fishing rod and a commemorative plaque from American Registry.
To be eligible for prizes, anglers must submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water.
FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass.
For the record, Florida lists two largemouth bass as state records -- a 20.13-pounder caught in 1923 (Uncertified record; Strong evidence exists, but not all the reporting requirements were met) and a 17.27 pounder caught in 1986.
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