The Trophy Fish Award Program recognizes and rewards angling skill. Successful anglers will receive a: Certificate of Merit
  • Bronze pin for your first fish of merit.
  • Silver pin for your fifth fish of merit.
  • Gold pin for your tenth fish of merit or a new state record fish.

General Rules for Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing

When participating in Top Angler Awards for marine and inland waters, anglers should adhere to the following rules:

  • Awards: Given for the largest fish caught and kept (Harvest Fish) or catch and release across species categories. The Angler of the Year is awarded for the most species categories, recognized at the Trophy Fish Award Ceremony.
  • Youth Category: Defined as anyone 15 years of age and under.
  • Saltwater Entries: Must be caught by boats leaving and returning to Connecticut ports with no overnight stays in another state prior to the day(s) of fishing.
  • Official Affidavit Form: Entries must be filed on the Official Affidavit Form, specifically the Trophy Fish Award Affidavit (PDF).
  • Accuracy and Honesty: Submission of false or misleading information may result in disqualification.
  • Legal Methods: Fish must be caught by legal methods and played by only one person.
  • Submission Timeline: Fish must be entered within 30 days of capture, and all affidavits for a particular year must be submitted by a specified deadline.
  • Exclusions: Fish caught in hatchery ponds are not eligible.
  • Season Compliance: Fish must be caught during Connecticut’s legal open season.
  • Photograph Requirement: A clear photograph of the fish must accompany the Affidavit Form.
  • Weighing Locations: Fish may be weighed at any local bait and tackle shop.
  • State Record Consideration: Potential state record fish must be weighed on a certified scale, with a printout of the scale weight or an image of the scale's certification number and other relevant details.
  • Size Restrictions: The size of a potential trophy fish or state record fish cannot exceed the maximum length for any given species.
  • Fisheries Staff Review: For species not listed, Trophy Fish Award subject to Fisheries staff identification and review.

Catch and Release Category Rules

Participants in the Catch and Release Category should adhere to the general rules, with the following specific guidelines:

  • Weighing Not Necessary: Unlike in other categories, the fish does not need to be weighed for catch and release submissions.
  • Witness Requirement: A witness must be present to validate the catch.
  • Photo Requirements:
    • A clear photo accompanying the affidavit is mandatory.
    • The photo must include the angler holding the fish and also display the fish next to a measuring device (yardstick, ruler, or tape measure) to clearly show the length of the fish.
    • The photo should be taken at the location where the fish was caught and released, ensuring no transportation of the fish from the catch site.
  • Measurement Specifications:
    • Minimum Length (Total Length): Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail.
    • Marlin & Swordfish: Measurement should be from the lower jaw to the fork in the tail.
    • Shark Species: The minimum length is fork length.
  • BLE (Best Length Estimate): This is used for highly migratory species where precise measuring might be challenging.
  • Release Requirement: Fish must be released alive and in good health, ensuring no harm comes to the species during the catch and release process.

Trophy Fish Award Minimum Weights

Note: Minimum Lengths apply to the catch-and-release category only! The minimum lengths listed below do not apply to the traditional weighed category.

Category

Species

Minimum Weight

Minimum Length

Freshwater

American Eel

3 lbs

35"

American Shad

5 lbs

25"

Atlantic Salmon1

15 lbs

31"

Bluegill

12 oz

10"

Bowfin

7 lbs

24"

Brook Trout

2 lbs

17"

Brown Bullhead

2 lbs

15"

Brown Trout

5 lbs

22"

Calico Bass (Black Crappie)

2 lbs

15"

Common Carp

20 lbs

34"

Chain Pickerel

5 lbs

27"

Channel Catfish

4 lbs

22"

Fallfish

1.5 lbs

14"

Kokanee

1.75 lbs

16"

Largemouth Bass

6 lbs

22"

Northern Pike

10 lbs

35"

Pumpkinseed

8 oz

9"

Rainbow Trout

4 lbs

21"

Redbreast Sunfish

8 oz

9"

Rock Bass

12 oz

11"

Smallmouth Bass

4 lbs

21"

Sunfish Hybrids

12 oz

10"

Tiger Trout

2 lbs

17"

Tench

4 lbs

18"

Walleye

5 lbs

23"

White Catfish

4 lbs

20"

White Perch

1.5 lbs

14"

White Sucker

3 lbs

15"

Yellow Bullhead2

2 lbs

15"

Yellow Perch

1.5 lbs

15"

Saltwater

Albacore

30 lbs

40"

American Eel

3 lbs

35"

Atlantic Bonito

4 lbs

20"

Atlantic Cod

20 lbs

40"

Atlantic Mackerel

1.25 lbs

14"

Black Sea Bass

4.5 lbs

20"

Blackfish (Tautog)

8 lbs

22"

Blue Marlin

100 lbs

BLE (99")

Blue Shark

175 lbs

BLE (54")

Bluefin Tuna

400 lbs

60"

Bluefish

12 lbs

32"

Chub Mackerel

1 lb

14"

Clearnose Skate

5 lbs

26"

Cunner

1.5 lbs

12"

Dolphin Fish (Dorado)

20 lbs

36”

Gray Triggerfish

4 lbs

15"

Hickory Shad

1.75 lbs

18"

Inshore Lizardfish

8 oz

10"

Little Tunny (False Albacore)

5 lbs

24"

Mako Shark

175 lbs

BLE (83")

Northern Kingfish

1 lb 8 oz

16"

Oyster Toadfish

1 lb

10"

Pollock

15 lbs

34"

Scup (Porgy)

2.5 lbs

16"

Spanish Mackerel

3 lbs

16"

Squid

10" Mantle Length; 18" Total Length

Striped Bass3

N/A

45"

Striped Searobin

3 lbs

18"

Summer Flounder (Fluke)

6 lbs

25"

Swordfish

100 lbs

BLE (47")

Thresher Shark

200 lbs

BLE (54")

Tilefish

35 lbs

40"

Weakfish

5 lbs

24"

White Marlin

80 lbs

BLE (66")

White Perch

1.5 lbs

14"

Winter Flounder

2.5 lbs

17"

Yellowfin Tuna

150 lbs

60"

Blue Crab

8"


The Trophy Fish Award program has specific rules regarding the types of fish eligible for submission:
  1. The program includes only hatchery-reared broodstock salmon that are released into the designated Broodstock Atlantic Salmon waters and supplemental lakes. It is important to note that wild Atlantic salmon from the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound are illegal to possess and are not covered under this Trophy Fish Award program. This ensures the conservation of wild populations and maintains the integrity of the program.

  2. For identification purposes, a clear photo of the side of the fish is required when submitting an entry. This photo should adequately display the fish's defining features to ensure accurate species recognition and validation of the catch.

  3. Currently, due to specific regulations that only allow bass between 28 and 35 inches to be kept, the catch-and-release category is the only option open for submissions of bass. This rule is in place to protect certain sizes of bass and ensure sustainable fishing practices. Anglers looking to submit bass for the Trophy Fish Award program should adhere strictly to catch-and-release methods and follow all guidelines for a safe and ethical release.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.