Beginning on July 1, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources began recognizing anglers who catch trophy-sized specimens of five different freshwater species. The Angler Recognition Program allows the SCDNR to recognize an angler’s trophy catch, while also providing the agency with important information that will be valuable to biologists for the management of these important species. 

“We just came through a long series of re-writing our fisheries laws and in some cases reducing creel limits,” said Ross Self, SCDNR’s fisheries chief. “Lately, it seems like we’ve been doing a lot to our state’s anglers. This program is designed to do something for them.”

The Angler Recognition Program will focus on five species: largemouth bass, crappie (white and black), blue catfish, striped bass, and brown trout. Self anticipates the program will later expand to include a number of additional species and possibly even saltwater species. It will recognize adult and youth angler catches that meet or exceed certain weight or length requirements.

Anglers catching fish that exceed the requirements and submitting documentation to that effect will receive a certificate of the catch. In addition, anglers catching one qualifying fish from each of the five categories will receive a Master Angler certificate along with a window decal. An angler who catches five or more qualifying fish for the same species will be awarded an Elite Angler certificate and window decal.

For anglers wishing to practice catch-and-release, the program certifies fish two different ways: weighing on state-certified scales or photographing the fish laying broadside on a recognizable ruler. The measurement of the fish is the total length of the fish with head and tail intact, and the measurement of the fish must be in the presence of a witness at least 18 years of age. For full details, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/fishaward/awards.

SCDNR’s trophy minimums will be: blue catfish, 40 pounds or 42 inches for adults, 20 pounds and 32 inches for youth; brown trout, 5 pounds or 20 inches for adults; 4 pounds or 18 inches for youths; crappie, 3 pounds or 17 inches for adults, 2 ½ pounds or 16 inches for youth; largemouth bass, 10 pounds or 26 inches for adults, 8 pounds or 24 inches for youth; striped bass, 40 pounds or 45 inches for adults, 30 pounds or 41 inches for youths.