The year 2002 marked the 29th 'birthday' of Michigan's highly
successful Master Angler Program. Launched in 1973 to better
recognize anglers who catch unusually large fish, the Master
Angler program began with just 19 species of fish eligible to
win distinctive Master Angler shoulder patches. Today, more than
a quarter-century later, that program has expanded to include 52
various species for which anglers may compete for honors. The
list of catches eligible for recognition ranges from such
seldom-caught species as the American eel and northern hogsucker
to the commonly sought yellow perch and walleye. 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, certificates are also awarded to anglers entering
the top five fish in each category.
Not only does the Master Angler Program help promote fishing as
a popular sport in Michigan and boost the DNR's image with the
angling public, it also provides Fisheries Division with
valuable information on where the big fish in our state can be
found, when is the best time to fish is and what's the most
successful fishing method and bait. In addition, it has aided in
the maintanence of a complete listing of state record fish. Of
the various categories of fish recognized as state records, the
lion's share of those records have been established since the
Master Angler Program's inception in the early '70s.
Thanks to the Master Angler program, now not only does Michigan
serve as an angling mecca for the dedicated angler, people come
from across the globe to fish in our state and try to win
themselves an award demonstrating to the world that they are,
indeed, a Master Angler.
To enter the 2003 program,
click here for the Master Angler
Application form. Print the application and follow the
instructions for completion and submission of this form.
Master Angler Entries
Catch and Keep Final Report 2002
Catch and Keep Final Report 2001
Catch and Release Final Report 2002
Catch and Release Final Report 2001
During the program's first year 123 applications were received.
By 1999,1,698 entries were received.
Recognizing the growing popularity of catch-and-release fishing,
the Master Angler Program instituted a special catch-and-release
category in 1992. There are now separate programs for both
catch-and-keep anglers and catch-and-release practitioners. The
concept of catch-and-release seems to be catching on.
Catch-and-release entries are judged on length alone, though
entrants must include a color photo for identification purposes,
while catch-and-keep competitors must have their entries weighed
on certified scales and be witnessed by two persons as well as
the required submittal of a close-up color photo of their catch
for identification purposes.