West Virginia man receives states first Master Angler Award

BOWDEN, W.Va (WDTV) – A West Virginia angler has received the state’s first-ever Master Angler Award, a program that recognizes anglers for catching 22 fish over a wide range of species and ecosystems.

Zach Adkins, an avid multi-species angler from Cabins, was given a plaque commemorating his accomplishment during a ceremony at the Bowden State Fish Hatchery in Elkins with Gov. Justice and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officials.

“When we announced this exciting new program back in January, we knew it was going to be a game-changer for fishing and here we are today with the proof that West Virginia has some of the best fishing programs and opportunities you can find,” said Gov. Justice. “I want to congratulate Mr. Adkins for being the first to complete this lifetime achievement and to encourage all our anglers to get out there and try and become a West Virginia Master Angler.”

To receive the Master Angler Award, anglers must legally catch all species listed for the specific slam and submit a time-stamped photo with their catch with their application.

Each slam must be completed within a calendar year to qualify, but all six do not need to be completed in the same year. Adkins officially completed the program on West Virginia Day, June 20, 2022.

“I just want to give a big thanks to everyone attached to this new program,” Adkins said. “As a multi-species angler, it’s been a blast checking all the boxes.”

For the program, fish species are separated into six categories, or slams, with three to five fish between 6 and 30 inches, depending on the slam and species.

Below is each Master Angler slam:

  • Black Bass Slam
    • Largemouth Bass: 12 inches
    • Smallmouth Bass: 12 inches
    • Spotted Bass: 12 inches
  • Catfish Slam
    • Blue Catfish: 20 inches
    • Flathead Catfish: 20 inches
    • Channel Catfish: 16 inches
  • Non-Game Slam
    • Fallfish: 12 inches
    • Bullhead: 12 inches
    • Freshwater Drum: 12 inches
    • Common Carp: 20 inches
  • Panfish Slam
    • Sunfish: 6 inches
    • Rock Bass: 7 inches
    • Black or White Crappie: 8 inches
    • Yellow Perch: 8 inches
  • Predator Slam
    • Muskellunge: 30 inches
    • Walleye: 15 inches
    • Striped or Hybrid Striped Bass: 15 inches
  • Trout Slam
    • Rainbow Trout: 12 inches
    • Brook Trout: 12 inches
    • Brown Trout: 12 inches
    • Golden Rainbow Trout: 12 inches
    • Tiger Trout: 12 inches

“From small mountain streams with native brook trout to large navigable rivers with blue catfish, impoundments with largemouth bass and rivers with walleye and smallmouth bass, West Virginia is known for its diverse fishing opportunities,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “Our Master Angler Program is just one of the ways we’re giving our anglers something to get excited about and a great incentive for anglers who want a challenge.”

Earlier this year, the WVDNR introduced the Master Angler Program to promote fishing and recognize anglers for their accomplishments over a wide range of species and ecosystems.

Click here for a complete list of rules and to download an application for the award.

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