The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s TrophyCatch program has awarded the Season 9 Phoenix bass boat to angler James Bernard from Lee, Florida. Five drawing finalists were randomly selected from thousands of TrophyCatch registrants to drop their names into a bucket for an exciting “reverse drawing” that was held Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Bobby Lane Cup youth tournament. The last remaining name drawn from the bucket revealed Bernard to be the winner of the Phoenix boat package.
“This event is a great way to cap off a record-setting Season 9 for TrophyCatch, and a fantastic reward for one of our many TrophyCatch citizen-scientists,” said Tom Graef, Director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries. “This program provides trophy bass data that is guiding our research and helping identify Florida’s premier bass waters.”
Although participating in TrophyCatch by documenting and submitting a trophy bass increases the chances of winning, anglers need only to register for the program to be automatically included in the boat drawing. This was just the case for Bernard, who avidly participates in fishing tournaments but had not yet submitted a bass to the program.
The reverse drawing was conducted and Bernard’s name was the last one pulled from the bucket. James’ response to learning he had won was “This is better than super, spectacular, and awesome!”
The Phoenix boat package is a brand-new Phoenix 819 powered by Mercury ProXS 200, guided by Lowrance electronics and trolling motor and anchored by Power-Pole. Finalist prizing includes items such as a Mercury visor, a Phoenix hat, a Lure Lock storage box as well as $50 of Bass Pro Shops Gift Cards, among others.
The TrophyCatch program rewards anglers who provide documentation of their catch and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com, showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water.
FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass. The associated TrophyCare program promotes best handling practices for trophy bass to ensure that each TrophyCatch bass is released alive. For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email KP Clements at Kp.Clements@MyFWC.com.