Florida Saltwater Fishing Records
State records for the heaviest marine fishes caught in Florida waters, or in federal waters extending directly outward of Florida state line boundaries, are maintained for 81 species in all-tackle and fly-fishing categories. To suggest additional species to be considered for the records program, contact AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com. Catches must follow program rules and fishing regulations.
The angler’s signature on a completed application form must be witnessed by a notary. Species that pose a problem of identity require determination by a qualified fisheries biologist. Photographs must be submitted clearly showing the weight on the scale, the rod and reel used to make the catch, the angler with their catch and a full-length side-view of the fish for identification purposes.
Record recipients receive a certificate, decal and custom fish metal decor courtesy of our Premier Partner, The Metal Edge.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reserves the right to deny any application to the Catch a Florida Memory - Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs and can change these rules at any time without notice. State laws prohibit false claims or fraud when claiming prizes.
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, the angler being properly licensed or using an approved exemption, as well as using legal gear and fishing in saltwater where the angler has legal access.
The FWC receives financial assistance from the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The DOI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility or need more information, contact: FWC, Office of Human Resources, 620 S Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399, 850-488-6411, or: Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Civil Rights, Dept. of the Interior, 1849 C St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.
Contact AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com or 850-487-0554 for questions regarding these programs.
- All submitted fish must have been caught by the angler applying for recognition.
- After a catch has been submitted by an angler and approved by staff it cannot be used to qualify a different angler for recognition.
- Fish can be either caught and released or legally harvested for these programs.
- Any photos containing nudity, violence, explicit language or sexually explicit content will be disqualified.
- Participants may not submit photos which have been digitally modified for any reason (other than protection of privacy) or photos that have been falsified in any way.
- 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 (does not apply to records program).
- Submitted photos must include the angler applying for recognition and show fish in whole condition with the exception of the removal of gills and guts.
- 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 must be caught in Florida state waters, in U.S. federal waters extending directly outward of Florida state line boundaries, or landed in Florida.
- Anglers may receive up to 10 prize packages per calendar year for the same recognition, such as 10 of a particular Grand Slam or 10 of a particular Reel Big Fish species. After this threshold, anglers will receive certificates and website level recognition, but will not receive a prize package for those recognitions. Once a new calendar year begins, the count to reach the 10 recognition threshold starts over again.
- Current FWC employees, including OPS, are eligible for certificate and website recognition only (including State Records) and are not eligible to receive any additional awards or prizes including raffles.
- 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.
- Failure to abide by these rules can lead to disqualification of submissions and permanent removal from the Catch a Florida Memory Program. Depending upon the severity of the infraction, the FWC may choose to pursue legal action.
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 (side views are best) 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
- It is preferred that anglers on vessels are photographed wearing personal floatation devices.
81 Species Included in the Florida Saltwater Fishing Records Program
Bass, Black Sea
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) maintains state records for the heaviest marine fishes caught in Florida state waters or in federal waters extending directly outward of Florida state waters in conventional tackle and fly-fishing categories. Catches must follow Florida's fishing regulations, General Angling Rules and Florida Saltwater Fishing Records Program Rules. Submission Requirements for Florida Saltwater Fishing Records
- The angler is responsible for submitting a complete application form.
- Information for witnesses to the catch and weighing must be recorded on the application form.
- The angler's signature on a completed application form must be witnessed by a notary.
- The catch must be weighed using a certified scale on land. A certified scale is one that has been checked and certified for accuracy by government agencies or other qualified and accredited organizations. A valid scale certification number must be included on the application form.
- A witness must view the weighing and have their information recorded on the application form.
- Photographs clearly showing the weight on the scale must be submitted.
- No estimated weights will be accepted. Fish must be weighed on land (fish weighed only at sea or on other bodies of water will not be accepted).
- The weight of any sling, platform, or rope used (if one is used to secure the fish on the scale) must be determined and deducted from the total weight.
- Only weights indicated by the graduations on the scale will be accepted. Visual fractionalizing of these graduations is not allowed. Any weights that fall between two graduations on the scale must be rounded to the lower of the two.
Minimum Weight Requirements:
- In order to qualify for a record, a catch must weigh a minimum of 1 pound (0.453 kg).
- To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds (11.33 kg), the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces (56.69 gm) more than the existing record.
- To replace a record fish weighing 25 pounds (11.33 kg) or more, the replacement must weigh at least one half of 1 percent more than the existing record. Examples: If the current record is 100 pounds (45.35 kg), the additional weight required would be 8 ounces (226.7 gm); if the current record is 200 pounds (90.71 kg), the additional weight required would be 1 pound (0.453 kg).
- Submitted photographs should clearly show various views of the fish for identification purposes (see below for details).
- Species that are difficult to identify must be confirmed by a qualified fisheries biologist.
- A fisheries biologist does not need to identify the fish in-person unless there is a question of species identity (photographs will suffice in most cases).
- Photographs must accompany all record applications. Applications without photographs will not be accepted. To qualify for a record, photographs must be submitted clearly showing the following:
- Scale used to weigh the fish
- Weight displayed on the scale
- Fish being weighed on scale with weight visible if possible.
- Gear used to make the catch
- Photo of valid scale certification
- Angler with their catch
- Fish in various views for identification purposes. Full-length side-view of the entire fish (the fins must be fully extended and not obscured with the hands).
- Side-view close-up of the head of the fish, from the tip of the mouth to the end of the pectoral fin (the jaw or bill must be clearly shown)
- Any other photos needed to accurately identify the species of the fish.
Submitted photographs may be used in FWC materials and should show anglers using proper fish handling techniques and wearing personal floatation devices when aboard vessels.
Prizes for Florida Saltwater Fishing Records:
- Saltwater record-holders receive a certificate of accomplishment signed by the Director of FWC Marine Fisheries Management, a prize pack, recognition in various publications and a custom piece of art to memorialize their catch.
Adding New Eligible Record Species to the Program:
- When an additional fish species is made eligible for the Florida Saltwater Fishing Records program by FWC, an effective date will be announced.
- Only fish caught on or after the effective date will be eligible for records.
1. Reels must comply with sporting ethics and customs.
2. Power- driven reels are acceptable under the following situations and configurations.
a) Reels that have power accessories (e.g., electric drill attachments, motors or other power accessories specifically designed for a reel) that can be physically removed from the reel may be used strictly for the purpose of retrieving a deployed bait or lure at depth all the way to the boat.
b) Power accessories may only be used to retrieve a bait or lure completely to the boat and are not permitted for adjusting the position of a bait or lure in the water column. Once a power accessory is attached to the reel, the bait or lure may no longer be legally used to catch a fish and the bait or lure must be retrieved all the way to the boat for manual redeployment before it may be legally used to hook or catch a fish. Power accessories may not be attached to the reel during the deployment of a bait or lure.
c) Power accessories must be physically removed from the reel before the act of hooking or fighting a fish. Any fish that strikes a bait or lure being fished with a reel with power accessories still attached- whether or not under electric operation- will not be eligible for record consideration.
d) Electric reels that do not have removable electronic components that allow them to be completely manually driven are prohibited.
3. Use of a rod belt, waist gimbal or fighting chair is permitted.
4. Fighting chairs may not have any mechanically propelled devices that aid the angler in fighting a fish. Rod holders on fighting chairs may be used when hooking, fighting, or landing a fish.
5. Gimbals must be free swinging, which includes gimbals that swing in a vertical plane only. Any gimbal that allows the angler to reduce strain or to rest while fighting the fish is prohibited.
6. Gaffs (including flying gaffs), tail snares and nets used to boat or land a fish must not exceed 2.44 meters (8 feet) in overall length. In the case of tail snares, overall length is defined as the distance from the beginning of the handle to the apex of the snare when loaded. In using a flying or detachable gaff, the rope may not exceed 9.14 meters (30 feet). The gaff rope must be measured from the point where it is secured to the detachable head to the other end. Only the effective length will be considered. If a fixed head gaff is used, the same limitations shall apply and the gaff rope shall be measured from the same location on the gaff hook. Only a single hook is permitted on any gaff. Harpoons or lances are prohibited. Tail ropes are limited to 9.14 meters (30 feet). When fishing from a bridge, pier, or other high platform or structure, this length limitation does not apply.
7. Entangling devices, either with or without a hook, are prohibited and may not be used for any purpose including baiting, hooking, fighting, or landing the fish.
8. Outriggers, downriggers, spreader bars and kites are permitted to be used provided that the actual fishing line is attached to the snap or other release device, either directly or with some other material. The leader or double line may not be connected to the release mechanism either directly or with the use of a connecting device. Spreader bars are also acceptable when used strictly as a teaser.
9. Daisy chains, birds, floats and similar devices may only be used if they do not unfairly hamper or inhibit the normal swimming or fighting ability of the fish, thereby giving the angler or crew an unfair advantage in fighting, landing or boating the fish.
10. A safety line may be attached to the rod, reel or harness provided that it does not in any way assist the angler in fighting the fish.
11. Spearguns: The gun must be charged with muscle power only. Explosive or compressed power is prohibited.
12. Sling/Polespear: The spear must be charged by muscle power, the charge held in place by hand and released by hand release only, no mechanical trigger release or holding mechanism is allowed to be used or to be on the polespear or sling to store potential positive energy. Includes gear commonly known as sling, Hawaiian sling, polespear, three prong, etc.
13. Terminal gear: Trail line or reels are allowed. Floats of any size are allowed, provided they are solely propelled by the diver (i.e., no motors or any other mechanical means).
14. Divers must pull their fish to the surface while they remain in the water. Once the fish is subdued and at the surface, it may be gaffed by someone in a safety boat.
15. Another diver or crew member may pass unloaded spearguns or sling/polespear to the diver, provided they and their associated gear follow the regulations set forth above for the primary gear and they do not assist the diver in any way to subdue their catch.
16. Powerheads: The use of powerheads for landing a fish submitted for a state record is prohibited. They may be carried by the diver for defense, but they may not be used to spear or subdue the target species being submitted.
1. From the time that a fish strikes or takes a bait or lure, the angler must hook, fight, and land or boat the fish without the aid of any other person, except as provided in these regulations.
2. If a rod holder is used, once the fish is hooked, the angler must remove the rod from the rod holder as quickly as possible with the exception of a fighting chair.
3. When angling from a boat, once the leader is brought within the grasp of the mate, or the end of the leader is wound to the rod tip, more than one person is permitted to hold the leader. Anyone assisting a shorebound or wading angler must be within a rods length of the angler before touching the leader or netting or gaffing the fish.
4. One or more gaffers may be used in addition to persons holding the leader. The gaff handle must be in hand when the fish is gaffed.
5. Fish must be free-swimming, unrestricted by nets, traps, fishing lines (if spearing) or other devices.
6. Fish must not be in an artificial environment or marine protected biosphere such as penned-in bays, in close proximity to fish nets or fish rearing pens, or areas that are otherwise closed to fishing/spearfishing
7. Another diver may provide a second or additional unloaded gun to the spearfisher, provided they do not assist the diver in any way to subdue their catch.
8. The use of artificial light sources for night spearfishing is not allowed.
9. The angling regulations shall apply until the fish is landed.
The following acts will disqualify a catch:
1. Failure to comply with above equipment or angling regulations.
2. The act of persons other than the angler in touching any part of the rod, reel, or line either bodily or with any device, from the time a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, until the fish is either landed or released, or in giving any aid other than that allowed in the above angling and equipment regulations. If an obstacle to the passage of the line through the rod guides has to be removed from the line, then the obstacle (whether chum, rubber band, or other material) shall be held and cut free. Under no circumstances should the line be held or touched by anyone other than the angler during this process.
3. Resting the rod in a rod holder, on the gunwale of the boat, or any other object while playing the fish with the exception of fighting chairs.
4. Handlining or using a handline or rope attached in any manner to the angler's line or leader for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.
5. Shooting, harpooning, or lancing any fish (including sharks) at any stage of the catch unless it is a legal and allowable harvest gear for the species.
6. Chumming with or using as bait the flesh, blood, skin, or any part of mammals other than hair or pork rind used in lures designed for trolling or casting.
7. Using a boat or device to beach or drive a fish into shallow water in order to deprive the fish of its normal ability to swim before the fish has been hooked or speared.
8. Changing the rod or reel while the fish is being played.
9. Splicing, removing, or adding to the line while the fish is being played.
10. Intentionally foul hooking a fish.
11. Catching a fish in a manner that the double line never leaves the rod tip.
12. Using bait that is illegal to possess.
13. Attaching the angler's line or leader to part of a boat or other object for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.
14. If a fish escapes before gaffing or netting and is recaptured by any method other than as outlined in the angling regulations.
15. Holding or touching an angler in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off of the angler. Touching or briefly holding the angler to prevent them from falling does not constitute a disqualification.
The following situations will disqualify a catch:
1. Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh. Injuries caused by leader or line, scratches, old healed scars or regeneration deformities are not considered to be disqualifying injuries. Any mutilation on the fish must be shown in a photograph and fully explained in a report accompanying the record application.
2. When a fish is hooked or entangled on more than one line.
3. When a catch violates laws or regulations governing the species or the waters where it was caught.
1. Regardless of material used or number of sections, rods must conform and cast according to generally accepted fly fishing customs and practices. A rod shall not measure less than 1.82 meters (6 feet) in overall length and any rod that gives the angler an unsporting advantage will be disqualified.
2. Leaders must conform to generally accepted fly fishing customs. A leader includes a class tippet and, optionally, a shock tippet. A butt or taper section between the fly line and the class tippet shall also be considered part of the leader and there are no limits on its length, material, or strength.
3. The reel must be designed expressly for fly fishing. There are no restrictions on gear ratio or type of drag employed except where the angler would gain an unfair advantage. Electric or electronically operated reels are prohibited.
4. Treble hooks are prohibited.
5. The fly must be a recognized type of artificial fly, which includes streamer, bucktail, tube fly, wet fly, dry fly, nymph, popper and bug. The use of any other type of lure or natural or preserved bait, either singularly or attached to the fly, is expressly prohibited. The fact that a fly can be cast with a fly rod is not evidence in itself that it fits the definition of a fly. The use of any fly designed to entangle or foul hook a fish is prohibited. No scent, either natural or artificial is allowed on flies. The use of scented material in a fly is prohibited.
6. Harpoons or lances are prohibited.
1. The angler must cast, hook, fight, and bring the fish to gaff or net unaided by any other person. No other person may touch any part of the tackle during the playing of the fish or give aid other than taking the leader for gaffing or netting purposes. Anyone assisting a shore¬bound or wading angler must be within a rods length of the angler before touching the leader or netting or gaffing the fish.
2. Casting and retrieving must be carried out in accordance with normal customs and generally accepted practices. The major criterion in casting is that the weight of the line must carry the fly rather than the weight of the fly carrying the line. Trolling a fly behind a moving water craft is not permitted. The craft must be completely out of gear both at the time the fly is presented to the fish and during the retrieve. The maximum amount of line that can be stripped off the reel is 36.75 meters (120 feet) from the fly.
3. Once a fish is hooked, the tackle may not be altered in any way, with the exception of adding an extension butt. A harness cannot be attached to the fly rod.
4. One or more people may assist in gaffing or netting the fish.
5. The angling and equipment regulations shall apply until the fish is landed.
The following acts will disqualify a catch:
1. Failure to comply with equipment or angling regulations.
2. The act of persons other than the angler in touching any part of the rod, reel, or line either bodily or with any device during the playing of the fish, or in giving any aid other than that allowed in the rules and regulations. If an obstacle to the passage of the line through the rod guides has to be removed from the line, then the obstacle shall be held and cut free. Under no circumstances should the line be held or touched by anyone other than the angler during this process.
3. Handlining or using a handline or rope attached in any manner to the angler's line or leader for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.
4. Intentionally foul hooking or snagging a fish.
5. Shooting, harpooning, or lancing any fish (including sharks) at any stage of the catch.
6. Chumming with the flesh, blood, skin, or any part of mammals.
7. Using a boat or device to beach or drive a fish into shallow water in order to deprive the fish of its normal ability to swim before the fish has been hooked.
8. Attaching the angler's line or leader to part of a boat or other object for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish.
9. If a fish escapes before gaffing or netting and is recaptured by any method other than as outlined in the angling rules.
10. Holding or touching an angler in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off of the angler. Touching or briefly holding the angler to prevent them from falling does not constitute a disqualification.
The following situations will disqualify a catch:
1. When a fish is hooked or entangled on more than one line.
2. Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh. Injuries caused by leader or line, scratches, old healed scars or regeneration deformities are not considered to be disqualifying injuries. Any mutilation on the fish must be shown in a photograph and fully explained in a report accompanying the record application.
3. When a catch violates laws or regulations governing the species or the waters where it was caught. Added