74-year-old?s experience leads to Hall of Fame bass on Lake Kingsley

74-year-old’s experience leads to Hall of Fame bass on Lake Kingsley

  1. 74-year-old’s experience leads to Hall of Fame bass on Lake Kingsley

    Len Andrews, 74, from Richmond, Va., has spent a lifetime bass-fishing. In a recent two-week period, he caught and released at the semiprivate Lake Kingsley 12 Florida largemouth bass over 10 pounds, capped by a TrophyCatch Hall of Fame entry that was verified as 13 pounds, 12 ounces.

    In addition, Andrews is the first angler to enter each of the three TrophyCatch clubs: Lunker, Trophy and Hall of Fame (see below for club details). He described the program as “awesome” and was intrigued about possibly becoming the first to enter all three clubs. As a result, he went out on St. Patrick’s Day specifically looking for a smaller bass so he could add the Lunker Club to his entries. Maybe not quite a “pot of gold,” but he fulfilled his goal by catching, documenting and releasing an 8-pound, 2-ounce bass.

    Andrews discovered north Florida’s Lake Kingsley 17 years ago and now routinely visits for three months every year, generally fishing seven days a week. His very first cast with a Zoom 6-inch lizard on a Shimano bait-casting reel and G. Loomis rod yielded a 14-pound, 8-ounce Florida largemouth back in 1999. He has been hooked ever since, and always uses the same lure while sight-fishing for bass in the shallows.

    Andrews grew up fishing with friends, and in the 1960s and ’70s he tried his hand tournament fishing, but said he “nearly starved,” even after adding guiding on Rodman Reservoir to his repertoire. Ultimately, he relied on being a union carpenter and supervisor until he retired.

    While shiner-fishing on Rodman in 2003, he was privy to E.C. “Doodlebug” Dressler taking a 17-pound, 3-ounce bass. A replica of that catch is now on the wall at Miller’s Bait and Tackle Shop and was donated to famed cinematographer Glen Lau. Small world, this trophy fishing community. Lau is a partner in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program.

    TrophyCatch is an incentive-based conservation program that rewards anglers for legally catching, documenting and releasing trophy largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds in Florida. The second season of this very successful effort to gather information on elusive trophy bass while encouraging anglers to release them began Oct. 1, 2013, and ends Sep. 30 this year. The program itself is ongoing, but having seasons allows the FWC to award a championship ring annually, which is donated by the American Outdoors Fund, and to draw for the Phoenix bass boat, which is powered by a Mercury outboard and equipped with a Power-Pole. Simply registering at TrophyCatchFlorida.com makes you eligible for the random boat drawing.

    Andrews’ 13-pounder, which he caught on March 11, was verified on a certified scale by FWC biologists Allen Martin and Steven Hooley as the fourth Hall of Fame entry this season. Van Soles recorded the first, a 13-pound, 2-ounce tournament-caught bass from Lake Kissimmee. Joseph Morrell followed earlier this month with two catches a week apart, weighing, 13 pounds, 12 ounces and then our current leader – a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass. Both of Morrell’s catches were also caught and released on Lake Kingsley.

    Hall of Fame entries receive a free fiberglass replica mount ($500 value) from New Wave Taxidermy; $200 worth of gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and/or Rapala; a Bass King duffle bag with customized hoodie, shirt and hat; and a Glen Lau DVD. In addition, their names are entered into the Florida Bass Hall of Fame at the Florida Bass Conservation Center .

    The other two clubs that are part of TrophyCatch are the Lunker Club for bass between 8 and 9.9 pounds, and Trophy Club for bass between 10 and 12.9 pounds. Verified Lunker Club entries receive $100 in gift cards from our partners and a club T-shirt. Trophy Club entries earn $150 in gift cards and a long-sleeve club shirt. All three groups also get a club decal and customized certificate.

    To enroll in any of the three clubs and support conservation, anglers should register at TrophyCatchFlorida.com, where they will also log in to submit their catches. A verified catch must be properly documented by one of the following means:

    • Photo of entire fish on the scale with the weight showing (if not perfect, be sure to supplement with a closeup showing the scale and at least part of the fish, a shot of entire fish on a tape-measure, and maybe a girth photo);

    • Link to a tournament website with official results, or to a publication that includes your name and verified weight of the individual fish;

    • A copy of an official printed tournament weigh slip, with tournament information that includes your name and the verified weight of the individual fish, or;

    • Provide the name and contact information for an FWC official who saw the actual fish being weighed and can verify the entry (e.g., creel clerks, conservation officers, event volunteers).

    Other anglers can view the gallery and map on the TrophyCatch website to see where all the great catches are being made, and follow us at Facebook.com/TrophyCatchFlorida.

    Lake Kingsley is a nearly circular lake with some of the deepest,clearest water in Florida. But, it is restricted to access by military personnel from Camp Blanding on the east, and with permission via private homeowners along the western shore.

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