The deadline for filing your 2012 Michigan Master Angler applications is January 10, 2013. All application information, including signed forms and photos, must be postmarked by that date. The witness signature(s) and photos are a crucial part of the application process, especially if your catch wasn't positively identified by a Michigan DNR biologist.
Incidentally, 2013 is the 40th anniversary of Michigan's highly successful Master Angler Program. Launched in 1973 as a way to recognize anglers who catch unusually large fish, the Master Angler Program began with 19 species of fish eligible for the distinctive Master Angler shoulder patches. In 1992 the catch and release category was added. Today's program now recognizes 52 eligible species. The eligible species list includes such seldom-caught species as the American eel and northern hogsucker to the eagerly-sought after yellow perch, walleye and musky.
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 rules for catch and release are slightly different than those for catch and keep. Catch and release entries are classified by length only, whereas catch and keep entries use weight as the final measurement (same as the verification for state records).
The Master Angler program serves two major purposes. First, it helps to promote sport fishing as a popular sport in Michigan and boost the DNR's image with the angling public. It also provides the Fisheries Division with valuable information on the location of big fish in our state, along with the best methods, lures, and seasons to fish for them.
In addition, the Master Angler program has aided the maintenance of a complete listing of state record fish. Of the various categories of fish recognized as state records, over half of those records have been established since the program's inception in 1973.
For more information on the Master Angler program, downloadable PDF forms and searchable records for both Catch and Keep or Catch and Release, click here.