Click here for the full 2015 Master Angler list!

2015 marked the 39th year of In-Fisherman’s Master Angler Awards Program, with a total of 426 successful entries, down a few from last year, with about twice as many coming online as by mail. The proportion of released trophy fish reached 95 percent for the first time. And also for the first time, channel catfish topped the list with 50 entries, followed by pike (47), smallmouth bass (46), largemouth bass (43), and walleye (40). Similar to last year, big pickerel were in relative abundance.

As usual, award catches included some real monsters: Bob Daly, an international traveler, made it three years in a row on Alaska’s Cinder River, catching two coho salmon over 34 inches. We had two blue catfish over 50 inches, one from the Mississippi River and one from Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River, both top spots for giants. The Red River of the North continued its dominance in the channel cat category, producing almost half of the year’s best. Michael Yannick landed a 52-inch tiger muskie from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. And Tim Jacobson of Wisconsin traveled to famed Flaming Gorge on the Utah/Wyoming border to boat a massive lake trout, 52-inches long and 25 inches in girth. Drew Prehmus registered an incredible 55-inch pike from the Taltson River in the Northwest Territories.

Bill Girvin of Yorkville, New York, a dedicated Master Angler if there was one, turned in registered an incredible 55-inch pike from the Taltson River in the Northwest Territories.

Bill Girvin of Yorkville, New York, a dedicated Master Angler if there was one, turned in his 200th entry in December, having entered fish over 36 years. In 2015, he entered seven species of fish, all caught near his home in central New York. Congratulations Bill! Not only does he fish skillfully, he carefully recounts the details of each catch with his entries.

Once again, readers entered only one spotted bass, surprising given the boom in their numbers and size across much of their natural and expanded range. Another world record was caught in California this past year, so giants are out there for the catching. And equally surprising is the total of just two redear sunfish, another species added to our Master Angler species list in recent years. And like spotted bass, they are booming out west, but also commonly grow well over a pound in waters across the Southeast. And while a number of big stripers came from coastal waters, only one inland trophy was reported. View the entire results and lots more great fish pictures at in-fisherman.com. Good luck in 2016!

Click here for the full 2015 Master Angler list!

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