If you’re thinking ahead to spring and getting your boat out on the water, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a new “Master Angler program.” D.N.R. fisheries bureau chief, Joe Larschied, explains.

He says it replaces the old award program — The Big Fish Award — and it also includes a first angler program where kids can receive a certificate after they catch their first fish. The new program issues rewards for those who catch the largest an longest of various species of fish.

Larscheid says if you catch a fish of a certain length that is considered a “master fish” you get a certificate and a car/boat decal. If you catch five of those fish you get a silver medallion, and if you get five silvers, you earn a gold award. Some people like to tell fish stories, but Larschied says they’ll have to have someone verify their catch.

He says there’s a form you fill out with each fish and there is a place where a witness will attest to the length of the fish. Larscheid says they want to get people interested in the activity.

Larscheid says it’s about creating excitement and they’ve already had interest from people. He says it is modeled after programs in other states and even one in Canada. Only one master angler award will be given annually per fish species and only one lifetime award for each Silver and Gold Master Angler level.