Catch and Release Records
The Angler Recognition Program accepts length-only record applications for the catch and live release of selected species in Texas public waters. This record category provides an opportunity for conservation-minded anglers who don't have a certifiable scale available to weigh a trophy fish before returning it to the water.
Fish submitted for Catch and Release Records must meet or exceed minimum length requirements for a Big Fish Award. State Catch and Release Records have been recognized since 2006. Catch and Release Water Body Records are recognized for catches on or after June 1, 2009. Certificates will be awarded for:
- The longest fish of a qualifying species caught by any method of rod and reel fishing
- The longest fish of a qualifying species caught by fly fishing methods
Note: Before submitting a Catch and Release Water Body Record, the angler should check the State Catch and Release Records. If there is an existing state record from that water body, the new catch must beat this record to be eligible for recognition.
If an angler is under 17 years of age, the catch will automatically be entered in the Junior Angler Recognition Program, where youngsters compete with their peers. If a junior angler's catch beats an all-ages record, the young angler will receive recognition in both divisions.
- State record applications must be notarized.
- A witness to live release is required.
- For length measurement:
- Place fish on its side with the jaw closed.
- Squeeze the tail fin together or turn it in a way to obtain the maximum overall length.
- Measure a straight line from the tip of the snout to the extreme tip of the tail fin.
- Weighing is optional. The angler may use a hand-held or dockside scale, if available, to record the weight of the fish, but record status will be determined by length.
- Photographs are required for all weight records, Catch and Release Records and Big Fish Awards. TPWD biologists will use the photos to identify the species and verify length measurement. Video recordings will not be accepted in lieu of photographs.
- Take clear, color, side view photographs from several different angles. One must clearly show the fish lying on its side with a ruler or other measuring device placed beside the fish. Another photo must show the angler with the fish.
- Get close enough so that the image fills the frame. Make sure anal and dorsal fins are spread out and visible.
- If the fish is a shark, photos of the teeth as well as photos of the head and back taken from above must be submitted along with the side view photographs. The photo of head and back should clearly show whether a shark does or does not have a ridge between the dorsal fins.
- Photos may be submitted by e-mail or mailed with the application. Submitted photos become the property of TPWD with publication and television rights, and will not be returned.
For Fly Fishing Awards
- The lure must be a recognized type of artificial fly.
- A fly may be dressed on a single or double hook or two single hooks in tandem. Treble hooks are prohibited. The use of any other type of lure or natural or preserved bait, either singularly or attached to the fly, is prohibited.
- No scent, either natural or artificial, is allowed on flies. The use of scented material in a fly is prohibited.
- The rod, reel, line, and leader equipment used must be designed for fly fishing.
- Casting and retrieving must be carried out in accordance with normal customs and generally accepted practices. The major criterion in casting is that the weight of the line must carry the lure rather than the weight of the lure carrying the line.
General Rules for All Award Categories
- The fish must be landed in Texas waters.
- An Angler Recognition Award Application form (PWD BR T3200-349B) completed by the angler must be received by TPWD within 60 days of the date of catch. The 60-day limit will be waived for catches recognized as world records by the International Game Fish Association.
- The fish must be caught while obeying all laws or regulations governing the fish species and the waters in which it was caught. Check license requirements and fishing regulations before going fishing.
- Only one person may catch the fish (except for netting or gaffing the fish to bring it into the boat or onto shore).
- The fish must not have contained anything (including electronics or other tagging devices) to assist in locating the fish.
- Deliberate falsification of any application will result in disqualification. All existing records will be removed and future applications from the angler will not be considered.
- TPWD reserves the right to review, investigate, reject, disqualify, or accept any application submitted or any award granted. In case of disputes, the decision of the Angler Recognition Awards Program Committee will be final.
- Measure the fish, take photos, and return it to the water quickly.
- Keep the fish in water as much as possible prior to release. Remove hook with pliers or cut the line. Do not hang the fish on a stringer or gaff.
- See our Catch and Release pages for more tips on successful live release.
Ron Smith–Inland Fisheries • (512) 389-8302 •
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department • 4200 Smith School Road • Austin, Texas 78744