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Celebrate your trophy catch with an AGFC award

BY Jim Harris

ON 04-26-2017


April 26, 2017

Jim Harris

Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

Are you a Master Angler? If you catch trophy-size fish in four or more categories or species, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will certify your status.

The AGFC is relaunching its Master Angler program under the direction of Mikki Moore, an administrative specialist in the Fisheries Division. Pins have been redesigned for each of the eight categories – black bass, bream, catfish, crappie, perch, temperate bass, trout and miscellaneous species. For each trophy fish that reaches or exceeds a minimum size for a species, an angler receives a commemorative pin. The program is open to any age angler, whether an Arkansan or a non-resident; the only requirement is that the fish be caught in Arkansas waters.

Moore stepped up to restart a program that had been popular some years back but had languished of late. “It just kind of sat until new designs could be made for the pins,” she said. “Anglers were calling in, ‘Where is my pin?’ The Commission wanted to relaunch it and I took it over. Now we’re pushing this out.”

The plans were revealed in the AGFC’s monthly commissioner’s meetings in April. Some changes were made to the program’s previous rules such as removing hybrids or non-native fish from the categories.

“The weights didn’t change,” Moore said.

For example, anglers who catch a largemouth bass of at least 8 pounds or a smallmouth or a spotted bass of 3.5 pounds are eligible for a trophy pin. Crappie trophy size begins at 2.5 pounds for black or white crappie. Brown trout starts at 10 pounds; rainbow at 8. A walleye needs to tip the scales starting at 9 pounds. A full list of species and starting trophy size is available at

If an angler catches a trophy in each of four or more different categories, he or she is a Master Angler and will receive a commemorative coin.

Anglers must submit a Master Angler application to obtain each pin, and a photo of the angler and the trophy fish must be included. Moore said applications will be available on new pamphlets that will be distributed to AGFC Regional Offices and eventually to some of the state’s bigger marinas. Applicants also can download the information at “Or, they can always call (501-223-6428) and we’ll mail one to them,” Moore added.

If an angler prefers to fish for one species such as trophy-size crappie, he or she “can rack up all the pins you want. Same for bass anglers or whatever species they want to focus on,” Moore said.

Moore is especially happy for the designs of the pins and the commemorative coin drawn by Greta James, an AGFC artist.

“I like the coin a lot,” Moore said. “It has a logo on the back and shows your Master Angler status, and comes in a neat case. So, it’s there for a bragging right. We know our fishermen like to come into the coffee shops and say, ‘Look what I’ve got here.’”

Moore looks forward to seeing interest grow in the program. She notes that many states have a similar program, and some have set them up where if anglers catch so many of one species, they are inducted into a hall of fame, and that’s something that someday could be incorporated into Arkansas’s Master Angler challenge, she said.

“Accept this challenge, go out there and catch some trophy fish,” Moore said. 

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