MONTPELIER — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has released its annual Master Angler program report and the 2014 edition is highlighted by two new state record fish – both caught in Lake Champlain.
“2014 was a great year for Vermont fishing all around, and the new record fish are a symbol of that,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Not only did we continue to see trophy fish entries for many of the well-known species like bass, perch, pike and trout, but we also saw an upswing in the number of entries of more non-traditional fish species like bowfin, carp, and longnose gar. This is yet another indicator of the quality and diversity of Vermont’s fishing opportunities, as well as the enthusiasm of anglers to take on new fishing adventures throughout the state.”
The two new state records include entries for both the common carp and white perch species.
Darren Ouellette harvested the new record carp while bowfishing on Lake Champlain in Shoreham. The fish weighed in at 44 pounds. 6.8 ounces and measured 41.25 inches in length.
The new record white perch, which weighed 2 pounds. 9.3 ounces and measured 16.6 inches in length, was caught by Anthony Austin while ice fishing on Lake Champlain in St. Albans.
“Along with the new record fish, the Master Angler program had several other highlights from 2014 including 790 trophy fish entries from 164 adult anglers and 63 youth anglers,” said Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “In total, 12 youth participants and 23 adult participants achieved Master Angler status by entering trophy fish for at least five different species, and we had a 61-percent release rate which means over half of the trophy fish submitted were released to be caught another day.”
In its fifth year in existence, the program received trophy fish entries from 79 different waterways around the state, and of the 33 species eligible for entry in the program, only two had no entries for 2014.
Additionally, while Vermont anglers made up 94-percent of the participant base, the program saw participants from a variety of other states including New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
“Fishing on its own is a great family adventure, but combining the Master Angler program with that experience is an extra bonus,” said Jeremy Baker of Rutland, a 2014 Master Angler award recipient. “There isn’t a fishing trip that I take with my son or daughter that doesn’t involve a conversation about the potential to catch a Master Angler fish. It provides additional motivation to get out there and I can’t think of a better way to spend time with my kids.”
Baker said he also appreciates the challenge of the program.
“The master angler program adds value to fish species that might otherwise be overlooked,” said Baker. “While there are similarities in techniques for various species, they usually exist in very different types of water and that makes accomplishing Master Angler status more difficult than some might assume. You find yourself exploring more, and as a result, learning more about fish and their habitat.”
Vermont’s Master Angler program was developed to recognize the achievements of anglers who catch trophy-sized fish from Vermont waters and celebrate the growth and survival of such exceptional fish.
The program also aims to encourage anglers to improve their knowledge of fish habitat and behavior, and develop the skills required to target and catch a wide variety of fish species.