Master Angler Awards
2014 marks the 41st 'birthday' of Michigan's highly successful Master Angler Program. Launched in 1973 to better recognize anglers who catch unusually large fish, the Master Angler Program began with just 19 species of fish eligible to win distinctive Master Angler shoulder patches. In 1992, the catch and release category was established. Today, more than a quarter-century later, the Program has expanded to include 52 various species for which anglers may compete for honors. The list of catches eligible for recognition ranges from such seldom-caught species as the American eel and northern hogsucker to the commonly sought yellow perch and walleye. In addition to the shoulder patch, anyone entering a new state record fish receives a certificate of recognition upon verification of his or her catch by a DNR Fisheries Biologist. At the end of each calendar year, recognition certificates are also awarded to anglers entering the top five fish in each category.
The deadline for submitting an entry is January 10, 2015. Be sure to include a color photo of your fish if it has not already been identified by a DNR fisheries biologist.
Not only does the Master Angler Program help promote fishing as a popular sport in Michigan and boost the DNR's image with the angling public, it also provides Fisheries Division with valuable information on where the big fish in our state can be found, when is the best time to fish for them and what's the most successful fishing method, bait and/or lure. In addition, it has aided in the maintenance of a complete listing of state record fish. Of the various categories of fish recognized as state records, the lion's share of those records have been established since the Master Angler Program's inception in 1973.
Thanks to the Master Angler Program, not only does Michigan serve as an angling mecca for the dedicated angler, people come from across the globe to fish in our state and try to win themselves an award demonstrating they are, indeed, a Master Angler.
2014 Master Angler Application (Print the application and follow the instructions for completion and submission of this form.)
During the program's first year 123 applications were received. By 1999,1,698 entries were received.
Recognizing the growing popularity of catch-and-release fishing, the Master Angler Program instituted a special catch-and-release category in 1992. There are now two separate programs for both catch-and-keep anglers and catch-and-release practitioners. The concept of catch-and-release seems to be catching on. Catch-and-release entries are judged on length alone, though entrants must include a color photo for identification purposes, while catch-and-keep competitors must have their entries weighed on certified scales and be witnessed by two persons as well as the required submittal of a close-up color photo of their catch for identification purposes.