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6-year-old Texan earns major fishing achievement


AUSTIN, Texas (KVIA) -- A 6-year-old Texan just became the youngest Elite Angler in the program's history. Ernst Toepfer V caught several large fish to achieve the honor.

"Toepfer earned his Saltwater Elite Angler Award certificate by accumulating Big Fish awards for five saltwater qualifying species. He landed a 21.75-inch sheepshead, 22.75-inch black drum, 21.25-inch ladyfish, 21-inch spotted seatrout and a 14.88-inch sand seatrout," the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) stated Friday. "He frequently fished with his Father, Ernst Toepfer IV, and Grandfather, Ernst Toepfer III."

Ernst Toepfer V, 6 (Courtesy: TPWD)

“You can tell [Ernst is] excited about fishing from the photos submitted," said Grace Simms, TPWD Angler Recognition Program coordinator. "I love how he fishes with his dad and grandad.  Sometimes his grandad will call me to tell me about the latest fishing story from their family fishing adventures, and it always makes my day. For Ernst to earn his Elite Angler Award at such a young age is an incredible thing, and it’s wonderful to see the enjoyment of angling being passed down to the next generation.”

The department explains that the Elite Angler achievement can only be awarded to a person once. It is given to those who catch trophy-class fish in five different species, including both freshwater and saltwater.

"To be eligible, an angler must earn five freshwater or five saltwater Big Fish Awards, given for fish meeting or exceeding the program minimum length for their species," TPWD stated. "Anglers can earn both Freshwater Elite Angler and Saltwater Elite Angler if they choose to pursue both awards."

The department says participation in the Elite Angler program is growing. Texans set 73 new state records in 2023.

"Paul Hefner caught a 90-inch, 207-pound alligator gar April 13 at Lake Corpus Christi. He earned a Big Fish Award and a waterbody record for his incredible catch." (Courtesy: TPWD)

The department also highlighted a few other remarkable entries from 2023, including 9-year-old Maggy Sojourner for catching a 26.37 pound blue catfish in Lake Granbury and Paul Hefner for catching a 90-inch, 207-pound alligator gar in Lake Corpus Christi.

Article Topic Follows: Texas

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Emma Hoggard


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