Instructions for the 2015 Spring Species Contest!

Button design by Frogchaser!




Contest Instructions


  1. Buy a button by visiting the CafePress store HERE. Be sure to order your button soon, because the contest starts June first and shipping can take awhile if you're in Belgium or Botswana or Iowa or something. You need to buy a button to compete. Alternatively, you can buy one of the special contest button graphic T-Shirts, which will also count as a button for the contest.
  2. Register for the contest HERE. Be absolutely sure to select the correct contest from the list! For some reason, the right contest might not be selected by default. You want the 2015 Spring Species Contest.
  3. Wait until June First. That's 6/1/2015. At 12:01 AM, you can start catching fish for the contest! When you catch a species of fish you want to enter, take a full-length photo of the fish with the button in the picture. You can hold the fish or lay it on the ground, but photos holding the fish are encouraged. Be sure that it's a good, clear photo that allows the judges to clearly identify the fish. If it can't be identified from the photo, it will be disqualified in final judging. You get one point for each species of fish you enter. Micro-species DO NOT COUNT.
  4. Upload your photos using the Add Contest Entry link on the sidebar to the left. Be sure to select the correct contest to add it to. You must select an appropriate species from the list.
  5. Keep an eye on the competition! At the end of the contest on the last day of June, the contest will close and the entries will be judged and prizes will be awarded.

The overall winner will get a custom fishing rod, built by myself and/or Andy and/or other highly skilled rodbuilders from the family. But it's probably going to be me.


Additional Rules and Clarification

  • Your fish must be clearly identifiable from the photo. Remember, even if you caught the species in question, you also must take a good enough photograph for the fish to be identified. That's part of the contest. Tiny juvenile specimens are often impossible to conclusively identify from the photo and the judges routinely disqualify tiny juvenile specimens as impossible to identify.
  • The photo is the only evidence that you can submit. This means that geographic information does not apply; even if the black bullhead is the only species of bullhead in your area, the photo must still be good enough to tell that it's a black bullhead. We must assume that the fish could've come from anywhere, because contestants are all over the place and even geocoded photo data can be altered.
  • This is an angling-only contest, and only legal angling methods count. Fish must be hooked on the inside of the mouth. No bowfishing, spearing, snagging, cast-netting, harpooning, noodling, seining, trapping, mudding, trawling, jug-lining, gaffing, electrofishing, rotenoning, snaring, grabbling, branch-buggering, snatching, shooting, dynamiting, trot-lining, or drone-fishing. The only legal method not involving a hook is using rope lures that entange the fish's teeth from the inside of the mouth. That means no wire snares for gar, people. Anyone caught using any prohibited method will be disqualified. Keep it clean and sportsmanlike, folks.
  • This is a freshwater contest. Saltwater fishing is awesome, but there's no way you can have a contest with both, because saltwater would win every time. The oceans of the world are so much more diverse that landlocked anglers would have no way to compete. There are some great saltwater contests out there, I'm sure, but at, we're dealing with freshwater species. The definition of a freshwater species means any species that eithers spawns in freshwater or spends a significant portion of its life in freshwater. Mullet, striped bass, eels, salmon, and other anadramous or catadromous species count as freshwater.
  • The contest counts standard-sized fishes only. Acceptable species are listed HERE. That means micro species like shiners, darters, and madtoms will be deleted immediately. I don't think I really need to explain why this rule must be enforced except to say that I don't want to look at ten thousand pictures of baitfish. In the rare event that you catch a legitimate species that is not on the list, it will be accepted at the judges' discretion provided that it meets the criteria for a standard-sized fish (it can grow to over a pound in size as an adult).
  • Identify your fish before entering it in the contest. We will not have time to correct your identification mistakes, so incorrect entries will be simply deleted. Post pictures of your fish on the forums or submit them as ID requests and they will be identified quickly. You'll get a little bit of leeway at the very end of the contest if you catch a fish you cannot identify just before time expires.
  • Post your entries soon after you catch them. While sandbagging (holding back your entries until the last second) is legal under the strictest interpretation of the rules, it is in bad form and a sudden influx of entries at the last second could crash the server. The contest creates a HUGE amount of web traffic on Last year I was forced to upgrade to a business-class hosting solution because of the massive amount of web traffic the contest creates, and it would be nice if people didn't wait until the last second. Half of the fun is watching all the cool fish come in during the contest, so be a chum and post your fish within a couple of days of catching them, please.

Am I missing anything? If so, let me know by commenting below.

Kid's Contest

Kids can register for the seperate Kid's Contest just as the adults do; direct them to choose the Kid's Contest when they register. We're going to spring for a neat trophy again for the kid who comes out on top.


If your button hasn't arrived yet, please use the image below until it gets here.











Carp Chaser's picture

Do northern sunfish reach 1 pound?

andy's picture

This is going to be a great contest.  

Corey's picture

I've never seen a 1-pound northern sunfish, I've seen some rather big ones. I say we keep them on the list, at least for this contest year. It might be a good topic to pursue at some point in the future.

Carp Chaser's picture

Have to ask about hybrids. I know at one point they could be accepted for one of the parent species (tiger musky could count either for musky or northern). Is it still the same? I know that gets tricky with the id confirmation but would like to know.

Gunnar's picture

The only shot at striped bass around here is stocked hybrid "wipers" in some warm lakes and reservoirs. Not going to bother if this rule has changed (or if I remember it wrong).

Corey's picture

Hybrids do indeed count as one of the parent species, but only if they are "no-doubters". The fish MUST have OBVIOUS characteristics the same as for the parent species being claimed. For instance, if you claim the cutthroat, then it must have the red cutthroat markings. In the case of a tiger musky claimed as a musky, it must have dark spots on a light background. In some cases, you won't be able to take a good enough photo to prove beyond all doubt that the fish is a hybrid of the species in question, and in those cases the fish won't count. Judges' call on borderline cases, but the judges generally err on the side of disqualification because they don't want somebody to win with a questionable or disputed fish.

krazyk's picture

It seems kind of dishonest to me to claim a hybrid as one of the parent species. My example being tiger muskies. Tiger muskies are probably leaps and bounds more common than Muskies because tons of fish and game departments stock them all over. Especially here in NY. 

It would be much, much easier for me to get a tiger than a true muskie. 

Dr Flathead's picture

Maybe not dishonest.  That might be the wrong word you looking for here.  As far as the tiger muskie subject goes, it still takes pleanty of luck and skill to get a tiger.  Their not an "easy" catch by any means for most anglers, even with lots of stockers everywhere.  They stock the piss out of them around here too.  Dont think I've ever seen anyone ever enter one yet in the contest.

TonyS's picture

It is all relative.  Much easier to catch a Musky here in WI than a Tiger.  I've caught dozens of Muskies never a Tiger.  I see your point, on the flip side some places just straight up have fewer species anyway - you can't make everything fair.  That said, for most species contests relatively few hybrids are entered and some of them get thrown out anyway.  However, especially when talking about muddy genetics in some species thing get tough.


I think one of the main reasons was sunfish, most years that seems like the dominant entered hybrids.  Sunfish hybrids can backcross and you end with a 75%+ Pumpkinseed with some Bluegill blood, for example.  Then you have a fish that looks almost totally like a pure Pumpkin but you get tossed out because the genes are muddy (if you do not allow hybrids).  Frankly I'm not sure that fight is worth it.    

Hal Edward's picture

I'm gonna have access to some Splake for a few days in June, could I count those as lakers if they're spotty and gray enough

Corey's picture

As long as there is no way to confuse them with a brook trout. Tough call, but I'd expect a splake to count it would have to have a pretty forked tail as well. Otherwise, could be an off-color brookie.

krazyk's picture

I see what you guys are saying and especially with sunfish. We've all caught hordes of Sunfish that could be either this or that. 

And dishonest might not be the word but I can't quite find the right one. It would just be weird to me if I went to a local pond where Tigers are stocked every single year and I pulled out a 1.5 foot Tiger and called it a Musky when there are big populations of huge Muskies swimming around in the Susquehanna river. Granted, I have only hooked a few true muskies and lost them every time while targetting Smallmouth bass but... y'know what I'm trying to say. I just feel like going to that pond (which is 2 acres but gets 250 tigers a year!) is much easier than striking out on the Susquehanna for god knows how long until I got a true Musky. I guess it just wouldn't sit with me right, personally. But to each his own. 

Dr Flathead's picture

Everyones angling situation is a bit different around the country.  We need to keep that in mind here.  What might be easy for one might be tough for another.  Point is everyone will have that one species that really gave them hell, might be a tiger muskie, pure muskie...ect.  Thats what so unique about a contest like this.  We might have really access to a bunch of fish here in the midwest that an angler on the east coast does not.  And vice versa.  Its all a wash as far as I'm concerned... 

TonyS's picture

Wow.  I've never heard stocking densities like that anywhere.  That's higher density than what they stock put-and-take Rainbow Trout ponds around here.  


I think that is a to each his own type thing, indeed.  I wouldn't feel bad pulling a Tiger out of a MSP Metro lake but what you are describing sounds more like a Trout pay-pond, which would feel weird to me personally.  But like Doc said, once you start talking total species numbers stuff washes out, so it really doesn't matter too much

krazyk's picture

Yeah you guys are right in the grand scheme of things it is a wash. But yeah, the numbers of tigers they put in this pond is crazy. It's 150-250 every single year depending on availability, lol.