Master Angler Awards
2016 marks the 43rd '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 46 various species for which anglers may compete for honors. The list of catches eligible for recognition ranges from such seldom-caught species as the northern hogsucker to the commonly sought yellow perch and walleye. At the end of each calendar year, recognition certificates are awarded to anglers entering the top five fish in each category.
The deadline for submitting an entry is January 10, 2017. The application allows you to download, complete and save on your computer and then submit with an attached photo to: MasterAngler@michigan.gov. Please note: the latest version of Adobe Reader is required to access this form. The application may still be downloaded and completed by hand and mailed with printed photo. 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.
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.
2016 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 anglers. The concept of catch-and-release seems to be catching on. Catch-and-release entries as well as catch-and-keep entries are both judged on length alone starting January 1, 2015. Anglers must still include a color photo of the fish so it can be identified. New state record fish will still be based on weight, not length and will need to be verified by a fisheries biologist.