The Saltwater Reel Big Fish program recognizes anglers for extraordinarily-sized catches of the 30 different saltwater species listed below. Fish must reach or exceed the qualifying length listed for adults (age 16 and older) and youth (under age 16). The catch must be photographed over a qualifying measuring device as well as in a photo with the angler who is applying for recognition.  FWC encourages responsible angling. Remember proper catch-and-release techniques when fishing. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible and are encouraged to release their catches alive.

Kristin Southerland holding seatrout
Kristin Southerland seatrout being measured

30 Saltwater Reel Big Fish Species and Qualifying Lengths

Saltwater Reel Big Fish Species Length (Adult) Length (Youth)
African Pompano* 49” 36”
Almaco Jack* 32” 24”
Black Drum 44” 33”
Black Sea Bass 17” 13”
Bluefish* 35” 26”
Bonefish* 27” 20”
Cobia* 45” 33”
Crevalle Jack* 36” 27”
Florida Pompano* 20” 15”
Flounder 25” 18”
Gag Grouper 41” 30”
Gray Snapper 24” 18”
Gray Triggerfish* 19” 14”
Greater Amberjack* 50” 37”
Hogfish* 24” 18”
King Mackerel* 45” 33”
Ladyfish* 30” 22”
Mutton Snapper 24” 18”
Permit* 40” 30”
Red Drum 30” 22”
Red Grouper 35” 26”
Red Porgy 20” 15”
Scamp 27” 20”
Schoolmaster 20” 15”
Sheepshead 24” 18”
Snook 36” 27”
Spanish Mackerel* 26” 19”
Spotted Seatrout 24” 18”
Tripletail 30” 22”
Yellowtail Snapper 20” 15”
*Measured by fork length. All other fish should be measured by total length.
Saltwater Reel Big Fish ShirtSaltwater Reel Big Fish Certificatemen with snook

Successful anglers will receive a certificate signed by the Director of FWC Marine Fisheries Management and a colorful shirt in recognition of their achievement. Recipients may also be listed in the Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations booklet.

Anglers who are awarded for five or more species can apply for Saltwater Reel Big Fish Recognition Tiers for the opportunity to receive additional prizes.

  • Tier 1: 5 different species
  • Tier 2: 10 different species
  • Tier 3: 15 different species
  • Tier 4: Reel Big Master Angler – all 30 Reel Big Fish species
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reserves the right to deny any application to the Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs and can change these rules at any time without notice. State laws prohibit false claims or fraud when claiming prizes. FWC employees, including OPS, are not eligible to win prizes other than posting pictures and certificate level recognition. Contact AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or 850-487-0554 for questions regarding these programs. To participate in Florida’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs, all fish must be caught by the angler being recognized in accordance with the Florida saltwater recreational fishing regulations at the time of the catch. This includes, but is not limited to:
  1. The angler being properly licensed or using an approved exemption
  2. Using legal gear and fishing in saltwater where the angler has legal access
  • Fish can be either caught and released or harvested for these programs.
  • All harvest of fish must comply with current regulations. Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations may be found online or by calling 850-487-0554
  • An undersized or out-of-season fish can qualify, as long as they are promptly and safely released and not harvested (as evidenced by submitted photos).
  • Any past catches that meet the requirements are eligible, as long as the required photos and documentation are provided.
  • FWC reserves the right to deny any application to the Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs and can change these rules at any time without notice.
  • State laws prohibit false claims or fraud when claiming prizes. Prizes are taxable and will be reported to the IRS as appropriate (please check with your tax advisor if you have any questions).
  • Recognition will only be given to individual anglers, NOT groups. Do not apply for group recognition.
  • Fish may be caught outside of state waters as long as they are released or legally landed in the State of Florida. For example, a fish caught in federal waters and landed in Florida would qualify. Similarly, a fish caught from a boat in Georgia state waters and then landed in Florida would qualify. In addition, a fish caught and released in federal waters off of Florida would also qualify.
  • FWC employees, including OPS, are not eligible to win prizes other than certificate level awards and website recognition.
  • Contact AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or 850-487-0554 for questions regarding these programs.
  • Your submissions to this program, including photos and other data provided to the Florida Saltwater Angler Recognition Program, constitute a release for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use them without compensation or further notice for research, information and other public purposes, such as being posted on the FWC website or being used in FWC publications and promotional materials. When photographs are required, the proper fish handling techniques and photo rules below apply.

Proper Fish Handling Techniques for Photos

  • Anglers should handle their catch with wet hands only (do not use a towel), be careful not to poke fingers into eyes or gills and fully support the body weight of the fish by cradling it horizontally.
  • If not held, fish should be photographed in a rubber-coated, knotless landing net rather than lying on a dock, cooler or boat deck.
  • Measure length on a wet, cool surface. Do not place fish on hot, dry boat surfaces.
  • Large fish that will not be harvested should not be removed from the water or boated, as this can injure the fish.
  • Anglers’ faces must be included in photographs and fish must be in an unobstructed position so that FWC staff can verify the species.
  • For more catch-and-release techniques, see the following: Catch and Release Brochure, Fish Handling and Gear
 
The Reel Big Fish program rewards anglers who catch a memorable-sized saltwater fish in 30 species categories. Youth under the age of 16 are recognized for catching a fish that is 75 percent of the qualifying size for adults(see chart below for specific sizes and species).

Eligible Saltwater Fish Species and Minimum Qualifying Lengths (effective 7/1/16)

Saltwater Reel Big Fish Species Length (Adult) Length (Youth)
African Pompano* 49” 36”
Almaco Jack* 32” 24”
Black Drum 44” 33”
Black Sea Bass 17” 13”
Bluefish* 35” 26”
Bonefish* 27” 20”
Cobia* 45” 33”
Crevalle Jack* 36” 27”
Florida Pompano* 20” 15”
Gag Grouper 41” 30”
Gray Snapper 24” 18”
Gray Triggerfish* 19” 14”
Greater Amberjack* 50” 37”
Gulf Flounder 25” 18”
Hogfish* 24” 18”
King Mackerel* 45” 33”
Ladyfish* 30” 22”
Mutton Snapper 24” 18”
Permit* 40” 30”
Red Drum 30” 22”
Red Grouper 35” 26”
Red Porgy 20” 15”
Scamp 27” 20”
Schoolmaster 20” 15”
Sheepshead 24” 18”
Snook 36” 27”
Spanish Mackerel* 26” 19”
Spotted Seatrout 24” 18”
Tripletail 30” 22”
Yellowtail Snapper 20” 15”
*Measured by fork length. All other fish should be measured by total length.
To determine the length of the fish, measure from the tip of the snout to the back of the tail fin with the fin squeezed together for total length. For fish regulated by fork length, measure from the tip of the snout to the center of the fork of the tail.

Submission Requirements

  • To enter Saltwater Reel Big Fish catches, anglers must submit a completed Saltwater Reel Big Fish Application and photo-documentation to show the species and length of their catch. To be eligible, the fish must be legally caught and meet or exceed the minimum qualifying length; length is maximum length in inches. See the Saltwater Reel Big Fish page for a listing of species and whether to measure by total length or fork length.
  • The catch must be photographed over a qualifying measuring device as well as in a photo with the angler who is applying for recognition. A qualifying measuring device is any length measuring device, such as a tape measure or ruler, where an accurate length measurement is clearly visible in the photograph and FWC staff can easily verify that the fish is over the required length. Photographs may be posted on the FWC website, in regulations booklets or in other FWC publications.
  • All Saltwater Reel Big Fish catches are eligible as long as they can be documented and have been caught in accordance with FWC regulations. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible and are encouraged to release their catches alive. All harvest of fish must comply with current regulations, available at myfwc.com/Fishing or by calling 850-487-0554. Applications that are incomplete or fail to provide full documentation of requirements will result in disqualification. Saltwater Reel Big Fish applications will be accepted year-round.

Saltwater Reel Big Fish Recognition Tiers

  • Tier 1: 5 different species
  • Tier 2: 10 different species
  • Tier 3: 15 different species
  • Tier 4: Reel Big Master Angler – all 30 Reel Big Fish species

Prizes for Reel Big Fish Club Anglers

  • Each time an angler submits a valid Saltwater Reel Big Fish Application, they will receive a t-shirt, certificate of accomplishment, various FWC saltwater publications and will become a member of the corresponding Saltwater Reel Big Fish Club. Anglers who are awarded at least five different Reel Big Fish species certificates may apply for Reel Big Fish Club Recognition Tiers for the opportunity to receive additional prizes. Successful participants will also receive one raffle entry for each verified submission to the program.
  • To be eligible for prizes, anglers must comply with all rules for Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs and the Saltwater Reel Big Fish Program. Prizes typically arrive 4 to 8 weeks after approval (not submittal). All prizes are awarded pending availability. FWC reserves the right deny any application for the Saltwater Reel Big Fish Program and to change recognition prizes at any time without notice.