Vermont Fish and Wildlife (F&W) announced that 47 anglers have achieved Master Angler status for 2016, including two notable Vermonters who successfully completed a difficult bonus challenge set by the department last year.
“2016 marked the seventh year of the Master Angler program, and anglers from near and far continued to impress with their eagerness to learn about, target and land trophy-size fish of so many different species across Vermont,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with F&W. “There were dozens of impressive entries into the program, highlighted by the first bonus challenge winners, and the first two submissions of lake whitefish since the program’s inception, meaning that all 33 eligible species have now been entered.”
In order to achieve Master Angler status, anglers must enter trophy fish of a minimum length for at least five of the 33 eligible species. Anglers are required to submit a photograph of their fish, along with accurate measurements and catch data including when, where and how the fish was caught. Anglers must also indicate if the fish was harvested or released. Additional highlights from the 2016 Master Angler program include:
A total of 747 trophy fish entries, including 496 entries from 149 adult anglers, and 251 entries from 59 youth anglers
Thirty adult Master Angler and 17 youth Master Angler award recipients
Participation by non-resident anglers from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Canada
Trophy fish entries were received from 80 waters throughout the state
As in the past, the most entries (358), came from Lake Champlain
62 percent of trophy fish entered were released
Both youth participant Chase Stokes of Ferrisburgh and adult angler Drew Price of Colchester successfully tackled the Master Angler bonus challenge. They were the only anglers to catch and enter trophy-size lake trout, chain pickerel, fallfish, yellow perch and white sucker, which were preselected by the department for the challenge. The species represent the challenge categories of cold water fish, warm water fish, panfish, alternative fish and one “wild card” species.
“The goal of the new bonus challenge was to encourage anglers to fish for a wider variety of fish species than they might normally target,” said Good. “Chase and Drew, who are longtime participants in the Master Angler program, proved again through the bonus challenge the depth of their angling skillset and why they can be considered two of Vermont’s most successful multi-species anglers.”
Stokes and Price were awarded gift cards to local tackle shops and will receive a commemorative lapel pin as part of earning the traditional Master Angler designation alongside the other 45 winners. The Master Angler program, which launched in 2010, was developed to recognize the achievements of anglers who catch trophy-size fish from Vermont waters and celebrate the growth and survival of such fish. The program also aims to encourage anglers to improve their knowledge of fish habitat and behavior, and develop the skills required to pursue and catch a wide variety of fish species.
Photo courtesy of Vt. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Aiden Good of Pittsford with a 29 1/2-inch lake trout he entered into the Vermont Master Angler program in 2016. The fish was caught and released on Lake Champlain.