The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program celebrates its most recent Hall of Fame largemouth bass catch weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces, caught and released in Orange Lake by Chad Dorland during a University of Florida fishing tournament.
Dorland’s 13-pound, 5-ounce catch was the heaviest fish weighed in during the UF open tournament on July 27. The tournament hosted 23 teams, with eight teams weighing in bag limits. Four fish weighed over 8 pounds, and Dorland and his teammate, Dusty McDevit, took fourth place overall in the tournament with a 21.26-pound bag.
“That day, it was all either little fish or absolute monsters being caught,” said Dorland. “I was flipping hydrilla with artificial bait, and was thrilled to catch my personal best during the tournament.”
In May, TrophyCatch celebrated Brian Hammett’s 15-pound, 13-ounce Hall of Fame catch – the second heaviest bass ever approved in the program – also caught and released in Orange Lake. Since Hammett’s catch there have been nine TrophyCatch-approved largemouth bass from Orange Lake.
“The fishing on Orange Lake is still really good,” said Allen Martin, FWC’s regional fisheries administrator. “Impressive tournament bag limits are being weighed in, including a high number of trophy fish, especially for the heat of the summmer.”
After producing a large number of trophy bass in 2010 and 2011, Orange Lake went almost dry in the winter of 2011-2012. Following several years of sustained high water, coupled with FWC staff working with local stakeholders to manage the lake, habitat on Orange Lake is once again very good and the fishery has bounced back. To date during Season 7, 21 TrophyCatch bass weighing at least 8 pounds caught and released in Orange Lake have been approved