Early this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) tagged 10 largemouth bass living in 10 water bodies throughout Florida.
Area bassers were excited to learn that one of those bass wearing a bright pink reward tag was swimming about in Gainesville’s own Newnans Lake as part of FWC’s TrophyCatch 10-Tag Celebration! program. Each tag carries with it considerable prizes, provided the fish’s captor follows the required TrophyCatch protocol.
R.J. Crawford of High Springs had just purchased a boat and, along with his friend Keith Wheeler, wanted to run it for the first time on the morning of Saturday, June 11. They took the new vessel up to the north end of Newnans Lake and, as avid anglers, had to make a few casts.
They had caught and released bass of 3 and 1.5-pounds at 10 a.m. and were about to head back to the boat ramp when Crawford cast his Zoom worm to a bunch of aquatic vegetation.
“The fish exploded on the worm as soon as it hit the water,”’ Crawford exclaimed.
Now Crawford is an avid bass angler, but he had not fished much recently and had not fished Newnans Lake in years. More “up on” current bass-fishing events, Wheeler had explained to his buddy earlier about FWC’s special TrophyCatch event and the bass swimming somewhere in Newnans with the coveted pink tag.
When Crawford got his big bass to his new boat, Wheeler was about to lip-land it (they had no landing net) when he spotted the pink tag.
About that time, the powerful fish made a run under the boat, giving the anglers a few very tense moments.
Finally, Wheeler was able to grab the whopper and hoist it and the precious tag aboard. Having
entered TrophyCatch-eligible bass in the past, Crawford knew the drill—hang the bass on his hand-held digital scale and have Wheeler photograph him and the hanging fish with the scale’s display clearly shown. The bass weighed 9.01 pounds.
Like each of the other nine pink-tagged fish, Crawford’s catch is good for a $5,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops and another $1,000 to shop AFTCO products.
And that’s not all. At the end of TrophyCatch’s 10-Tag Celebration, a drawing will be held among the captors of each of the pink-tagged fish (to date, Crawford’s bass is just the second of these successfully turned in). The winner of the drawing will take home another $10,000.