Vermont Master Angler Program adds “bonus challenge” for 2016

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department announced Friday, Jan. 8, the addition of a multi-species “bonus challenge” to its popular Master Angler Program for 2016, aimed at further testing the fishing aptitude and knowledge of Vermont anglers.

“For six years now, anglers around the state have enjoyed studying and learning about fish biology, habitat, and feeding behavior, and using that knowledge to pursue the 33 fish species included in the Master Angler Program,” said Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “The ‘bonus challenge’ will add one more level of excitement and achievement for our faithful Master Anglers out there, and we hope that many will take on this new adventure.”

To complete the challenge an angler must catch the five specifically designated fish species selected by the Department for 2016. Each entry must still meet the minimum qualifying lengths of the Master Angler Program for those species.

The 2016 bonus challenge species are: lake trout, chain pickerel, yellow perch, fallfish and white sucker. A different bonus challenge species list will be announced each year.

As an added incentive to “fish outside the box” in 2016, anglers who successfully complete the challenge will receive extra recognition and a special bonus challenge prize at the end of the year.

“We want to encourage anglers to learn about opportunities to target fish species beyond what they normally fish for,” added department fisheries biologist Shawn Good. “We hope that the bonus challenge will provide added incentive to our anglers to learn about and try their hand at catching something different, getting them out of their comfort zone, so to speak.”

Anyone interested in the program can visit to view the latest fish entries, rules, qualifying species, application form and annual reports.

Currently, an angler that catches a fish that meets or exceeds the minimum qualifying length for any of the 33 Vermont Master Angler Program species receives a handsome certificate and public recognition on the program website and in its annual report. An angler that enters trophy-sized fish for five or more species caught in a calendar year is awarded the Vermont Master Angler pin.

“It’s amazing to me how many highly-skilled, knowledgeable anglers there are fishing in Vermont, many of whom have achieved Master Angler status in recent years,” said Kratzer. “We think the bonus challenge will raise the bar even higher for these passionate anglers, and we’re excited to see how anglers respond.”

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