Frequently Asked Questions


You register for both TrophyCatch and Big Catch on the registration page. The left-side option allows you to simply enter your customer number (sometimes called your fishing license number) and the phone number that you registered when you bought your license. Doing so will automatically fill in your name, address, phone number and other relevant information saving you time. Most freshwater fishing licenses have your customer number printed on them, which is what the registration look-up uses to help fill out your information. However, this information is only updated once a week, so if you just purchased a license you may have to enter the information directly (see register from scratch).

If you don't know the necessary phone number or don't remember the license number, you can look them up online (click here then choose: "Where can I view my current hunting and fishing licenses?"), then come back and enter the information, or alternatively, you may use the right-side option.

The right-side option allows you to manually enter all of your information to register. Please remember, to participate, you must be legally licensed (buy one here now, and be ready to fish instantly), or legally exempt (see exemptions scroll down and read: "You do not need a freshwater fishing license if..."). This provides an option for anyone to register whether they have access to their license number or not, but anglers that are not fishing legally (e.g., do not have an active license when required) are not eligible for prizes.

Simply take a photo of the fish, or you and the fish. For Big Catch, it does not need to be on a scale or tape measure, although those images are welcome. Big Catch is an honor-based angler recognition program, please see the list of eligible species and the qualifying sizes. For the particular species you catch, you only need to exceed either the length or weight (not necessarily both) to qualify. Youths under 16 years of age are eligible with a fish approximately 25 percent smaller, see the eligible species pages for specific qualifying sizes.

Remember all fish caught and submitted must be legally caught, including having an appropriate license or exemption, using active hook-and-line recreational gear.

See How to Qualify for more details.

Total length is the maximum length of the fish, with the mouth closed and the tail fin pinched together. The best way to obtain this length is to use a bump board. Push the fish's snout up against a vertical surface with the mouth closed and the fish laying along a tape measure, then pinch the tail fin closed and determine the total length. Do NOT pull a flexible tape measure along the curve of the fish. The photo to the right shows a bass on a measuring board with the mouth held shut. Prior to getting a final measurement the caudal (tail) fin will be pinched shut. Be sure to wet and cool off the bump board or surface the fish will be placed on to minimize its discomfort.

How do I measure total length?

"Girth" is best measured with a fabric ruler, such as tailors use. It can also be determined by drawing a string around the fish at its widest point marking where the string overlaps and then measuring the distance between the overlapping points on a conventional ruler. The measurement should be taken perpendicular to the length of the fish. This measurement is analogous to measuring the circumference of someone's waist. Knowing the girth is important when trying to certify a fish for a record, and provides useful information to biologists about the relative condition of a fish. If you have a live well, the measurement can be taken underwater. See image above, for taking proper length and girth measurements.

Although it cannot be used to certify an official weight, use of the length and girth can give you a good estimate of a bass' weight. Scientists use a rather complex formula to attain the greatest accuracy. The equation is: Log (weight in grams) = -4.83 + 1.923 x Log (total length in millimeters) + 1.157 x Log (girth in millimeters). A 22" long bass with a girth of 15" weighs about 6.0 pounds using this formula. Fortunately there are several other easy formulas that you can use. Although they are not as accurate, they will give you a rough estimate. A quick, though very rough, estimate of torpedo shaped fish like young bass can be obtained by using: Total Length (in inches)-squared, times girth (in inches) divided by 1,200. A 22" long bass with a girth of 15" weighs about 6.1 pounds using this formula. Another common option used for estimating bass weights is: Girth (in inches)-squared, times length (in inches) divided by 800. A 22" long bass with a girth of 15" weighs about 6.2 pounds using this formula. To compare the results of each of these formulas, use our Bass Weight Calculator.

For more information please see:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages anglers to release any fish that they are not going to use. Moreover, fisheries conservation laws require some fish to be released based on bag (creel) limits or size restrictions. Whether you are releasing fish voluntarily or to comply with the law, knowing how to do so properly will greatly increase the fish's chance for survival. Please remember that if you are going to release your catch, it is very important the fish be properly handled and released as quickly as possible.

  • Plan ahead before you remove the fish from the water, have your dehooker, measuring devices and camera ready—remember the fish should not be out of the water longer than you can hold your breath.
  • Placing the fish back in the water between photos or measurements can be a good idea, especially if you have a live well.
  • Strike quickly when a fish takes your bait or lure to reduce the chance of it swallowing the hook.
  • Play fish rapidly, the longer and harder it fights the greater stress on them.
  • Do not use gaffs or knotted nets, and if lifting the fish by the jaw be careful not to bend the lower jaw down. If you need to hold the fish horizontally grasp it firmly by the lower jaw and gently under the stomach with a wet hand. Minimize disturbing the slime coat, which protects the fish from infection.
  • Use barbless hooks or mash the barb down. Circle hooks can be especially beneficial, and do not use stainless steel.
  • Keep the fish out of the water for as short a time as possible—no longer than you can hold your breath.If the hook does not come out easily, use a dehooking tool. If the hook has been swallowed cut the line. Stomach acid will dissolve the hook.
  • When releasing the fish, place it gently in the water head first. If necessary, move the fish in a gentle figure eight to pass water over the gills (do not pull it backwards).
  • Note that most non-native fish should be harvested and not released, the exceptions are peacock bass and triploid grass carp.


  • Carefully handle and release alive all fish that are unwanted or prohibited by regulation (see catch-and-release tips). Note that most non-native fish should be harvested and not released, the exceptions are peacock bass and triploid grass carp.
  • Demonstrate and promote ethical behavior in use of aquatic resources.
  • Value and respect the aquatic environment and all living things.
  • Use tackle and techniques that minimize harm to fish when "catch and release" angling.
  • Ensure live wells have fresh lake/river water (not tap water) and if possible run an aerator. Water should be at the same temperature as the fish were removed from or slightly cooler.
  • Do not use fish stringers. If in a kayak or canoe and you need to keep the fish alive, floating net baskets (knotless) may be used.
  • Keep fishing sites litter-free.
  • Avoid spilling and never dumps pollutants, such as gas or oil.
  • Dispose of trash, including worn lines, leaders and hooks, in appropriate containers, and recycle whenever possible. (see Monofilament recycling)
  • If necessary, purchase and keep current your fishing license. If you are exempt, you may still purchase a license as a way to contribute to conservation (see our Licensing page).
  • Take precautionary measures to prevent spread of exotic plants and animals.
  • Learn and obey angling and boating regulations (see our Boating page for details).
  • Treat other anglers, boaters and property owners with courtesy and respect.
  • Respect property rights, and never trespass on private lands or waters.
  • Keep no more fish than needed for consumption, and never wastefully discard fish. Note most non-native fish that cannot be released are good eating.

You can always use the alternate approach to register from scratch. You just have to type in more information (such as your address). Most freshwater fishing licenses have your customer number printed on them, which is what the registration look-up uses to help fill out your information. However, this information is only updated once a week, so if you just purchased a license you may have to enter the information directly. If you can't locate your customer number or don't know the phone number you used to register, you can click this link to look it up, then enter the information on the registration site. Finally, if you are legally exempt, you can select "legally exempt" and enter your information.

No. Of the 33 species that are eligible for recognition in the Big Catch program, several have limited natural ranges, such as the Suwannnee and shoal bass, and others are non-native fishes that generally are only found in limited areas. Our Rangefinder Map allows you to see the typical distribution area for each species. The Eligible Species tab provides an illustration of each species, a description, notes on its behavior and habitat and fishing tips, as well as the specific sizes for adult and youth participants to qualify and the state record.

A specialist is an angler who catches five (or more) qualifying catches of the same species.

A master angler is someone who has caught five or more qualifying Big Catch fish of different species.

An elite angler is someone who has caught ten or more qualifying Big Catch fish of different species.

A bass slam is achieved by catching a largemouth bass, a spotted bass, a shoal bass and a Suwannee bass all within a one-year period.

A bream slam is achieved by catching four of the following panfish species all in the same day:

  • Bluegill
  • Redear sunfish
  • Warmouth
  • Spotted sunfish
  • Redbreast sunfish
  • Flier

An exotic slam is attained by catching the following species, all in one day:

  • Peacock bass
  • Mayan cichlid
  • Oscar

In addition to viewing the species, fishing tips and sizes on the eligible species page, you can find the Big Catch sizes in the annual Freshwater Recreational Fishing Summary. You can also download and print a copy of the Big Catch poster.

It is easy to obtain a license. The simplest way is online at In general, if you are under 16, or 65 or older you typically need a license, but check the exemptions for other possibilities. Many outdoor retailers, bait-and-tackle stores or tax collector offices also sell fishing licenses. Remember all of the money you spend on your license goes to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to manage fish and wildlife resources in Florida for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. In addition, every new customer that buys a fishing license helps acquire approximately $8 for Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration programs that help enhance and sustain your fishing and boating in Florida.