Arizona is home to great largemouth bass fishing, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (Department) works to provide great opportunities for anglers to catch huge largemouth bass all over the state.
The Arizona Hawg Bass Challenge is a three tiered, incentive-based conservation program designed to encourage anglers to learn about and pursue really large largemouth bass while encouraging and celebrating catch-and-release on individual fish over 5 pounds.
Hawg Bass Conservation Challenge- 5 pounds or 21 inches
To complete this challenge, catch an 5 pound or 21 inch or larger largemouth bass. Verify your big fish by taking a picture while weighing or measuring it following the rules and guidelines listed. Release your fish quickly (immediately after weighing or measuring) back into the lake where you caught it. Submit your picture via BFishing@azgfd.gov. Make sure you include a valid email address so that you can be contacted. A Department biologist will contact you to discuss all the great details of your catch. Your picture will be posted on the Hawg Bass Conservation Board on FISHAZ.AZGFD.com.
Hawg Bass Memory Challenge- 8 pounds or 24 inches
To complete this challenge, catch an 8 pound or 24 inch or larger largemouth bass. Verify your hawg by taking a picture of the fish while being weighed or measured following the rules and guidelines listed. Release your fish quickly (immediately after weighing or measuring) back into the lake where you caught it. Submit your picture via BFishing@azgfd.gov. Make sure you include a valid email address so that you can be contacted. A Department biologist will contact you to discuss all the great details of your catch and get your information to send you an AZ Hawg Bass fishing shirt and decal for your truck or boat to celebrate your catch. Your picture will also be posted on the Hawg Bass Conservation Board on FISHAZ.AZGFD.com.
Ten pound club- 10 pounds or 26 inches
To be in the the 10 pound club, catch an 10 pound or 26 inch or larger largemouth bass. Verify your hawg by taking a picture of the fish while being weighed or measured following the rules and guidelines listed. Release your fish quickly (immediately after weighing or measuring) back into the lake where you caught it. Submit your picture via BFishing@azgfd.gov. Make sure you include a valid email address so that you can be contacted. A Department biologist will contact you to discuss all the great details of your catch and get your information to send you a fishing shirt with the 10 pound club, AZ Hawg Bass Challenge artwork as a way to celebrate your catch, and your picture will be posted on the Hawg Bass Conservation Board on FISHAZ.AZGFD.com. You’ll also be entered into a drawing to be held in February each year for a prize valued at over $1,000!
- Conservation through catch-and-release of the biggest, oldest, most valuable individuals in waters the Department is managing for trophy-sized bass as well as promoting catch and release of large brood fish in all bass waters.
- Excite anglers about Arizona fishing, encouraging them to purchase licenses and fish more resulting in benefits to anglers, fishing-related businesses, local communities and the fisheries by having more support and funding for conservation
- Collect valid information through citizen-science about trophy-sized bass to help the Department better enhance, conserve and promote trophy bass fishing
- Share information about fishing opportunities and destinations to make fishing more enjoyable.
Arizona Hawg Bass Challenge Rules
Fish must be released alive in the same water where caught.
AZ Hawg Bass Challenge is a citizen-science conservation rewards program for anglers that emphasizes the immediate live-release of larger, older individuals in the larger size classes of largemouth bass. AZ Hawg Bass Challenge fish will be accepted year-round and require photographic documentation for verification.
All fish entered into AZ Hawg Bass Challenge must be caught legally, including a having a valid license or exemption, using an active hook-and-line method, and documented following established guidelines (below). Anglers without a license, fishing in a clinic or event not requiring a license will not be eligible.
Submit a photo of the entire fish (displaying head-to-tail, with no part of the fish cut out of the photo) on the scale with the weight showing. Hand scales must be held by the designated handle without interfering with or touching the chain, shaft, or the fish while weighing. All scales, including pan scales, should be properly tared in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Supplemental photos holding or releasing the fish, close-ups of the scale with at least half of the fish visible, images of the entire fish on a bump-board or tape-measure, and girth photos are encouraged to be submitted. However, the required photo is of the entire fish on the scale with the weight clearly visible.
Anglers should submit high resolution photographs (good overall clarity, 3 megapixel camera or above recommended), with at least one photograph of the whole fish on a spring or digital scale with the weight clearly visible. Anglers are encouraged to submit three or four additional photographs of the fish: the whole fish on a measuring board with the length clearly visible, close-up on scale, the girth, being released, and/or of themselves or a friend with their catch (please remove sunglasses). Photos and documentation will be reviewed by Department biologists. If the fish’s weight is not clearly visible in the photo, it does not show the entire fish, or the submission is questionable in terms of the size of the fish or location/method of catch or live release, the AZ Hawg Bass Challenge team may verify or deny the entry based on their professional judgment.
Anglers may upload a video snippet in .mov or MP4 format, but no larger than 50 MP in size for one or more of the five photos. Suggested documentation includes beginning with a wide angle showing the entire fish (head to tail) being properly held on the scale and then zooming in to ensure the weight can be read. Video is a great way to also document the live release of your catch.
Since catch-and-release of trophy class fish is a goal of AZ Hawg Bass Challenge, anglers who catch an eligible fish while participating in a fishing tournament must release the fish immediately to participate in the challenge. Any sized fish that are retained as part of a legal bag limit to be weighed at a weigh-in will not be eligible for the Challenge. Anglers should become familiar with handling procedures to ensure fish are healthy upon release. Live release must be verifiable. Fish not certified live or kept by an angler will not be accepted for the AZ Hawg Bass Challenge.
Terms for Participation
To participate in Arizona’s Hawg Bass and Fat Cat Challenges, the angler must have caught the submitted fish themselves, in accordance with the current year fishing regulations of the State of Arizona at the time of the catch. This includes, but is not limited to:
- The angler must be properly licensed or have an approved exemption. Fish caught during clinics or events that do not require a license will not qualify.
- The angler must use legal gear (moreover, for angler recognition the gear must be an active hook-and-line method, which does not include bush hooks, trotlines, or bow).
- The fish must be caught in Arizona waters including the Colorado River where it borders Mexico, California and Nevada, and all of Lake Powell. Fish must be taken during the legal open season and by the legal method of take for the water where taken. Any illegal act associated with taking or handling of the fish will disqualify if from the Challenge.
- The angler must abide by all size, bag, season and location-specific fishing regulations.
- Anglers must attest that they successfully live-released the fish in the water where it was caught (after documenting it) and that it was able to swim off. Fish submitted to the program cannot be harvested or kept in a live-well.
Your submission to this program, including photos and other data provided to any Department program or challenge, constitutes a release for the Arizona Game and Fish Department to use them without compensation or further notice. Such use would typically include research, informational, and other public purposes, such as being posted on AZGFD.com, FISHAZ.AZGFD.com, Department Social Media or other third-party promotional use such as websites or publications, and in other related news releases, articles, brochures, advertisements, or reports.
Fish handling guidelines [PDF]
State record rules [PDF]