For Immediate Release - April 23, 2013

Massachusetts Honors State’s Top Fresh Water Anglers

BOSTON – Tuesday, April 23, 2013 – On Saturday, April 20, the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board hosted the 2012 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards ceremony at the Riverside Gun Club in Hudson, where the state’s top freshwater anglers received awards presented by Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) Director Wayne MacCallum and Board Chairman George Darey.

“These awards highlight the great fishing opportunities Massachusetts offers and we hope they encourage young people and adults to get out and enjoy outdoor activities this spring, including fishing, hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing," said Commissioner Griffin, whose office includes MassWildlife. "We congratulate all the skilled anglers who are receiving awards.”

“The Sportfishing Awards Program benefits all freshwater anglers by providing information about where and what time of year anglers catch the largest fish,” said Chairman Darey. "We're pleased to honor these outstanding anglers for their remarkable catches."

Among those honored Saturday was teenager Jake Souza of Berkley, the 2012 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program Angler of the Year . The Angler of the Year Award is given to the angler who weighs in the largest number of species that qualify under the Freshwater Sport Fishing Awards Program. Souza landed 11 different species from bodies of water in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

Others recognized included a new state record holder, Shane Felch of Shrewsbury, who successfully landed a 46-pound, 5-ounce carp using a crossbow in Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury. William Souza of Somerset also received an award for his catch of a 10-pound, 5-ounce largemouth bass from Mary’s Pond in Rochester. Mike Stori of Pittsfield, while not an award winner, was recognized for landing a 10-pound largemouth bass at Laurel Lake in Lee. The catch of two largemouth bass of 10 pounds or more in 2012 is remarkable, as only 20 fish of that size have been submitted in the 50-year history of the awards program.

Started in 1963 by MassWildlife, the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program has provided an opportunity to celebrate the quality and excellence of freshwater fishing in Massachusetts. MassWildlife awards bronze pins to adult and youth anglers who catch fish of certain minimum weight requirements in 22 species categories, and gold pins and commemorative plaques to anglers who catch the largest fish in each category. Gold pin winners were the honorees in Saturday’s ceremony.

Not only do anglers benefit from learning where and when to find trophy fish, the information provided by participating anglers has helped guide fisheries biologists on future management projects and stocking efforts. The program database of more than 26,000 entries contains information on species, weight, length, girth, catch location and gear type used.

DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes and coastal waters.