The Weighing Process
With regard to weighing fish, however, there are no gray areas.
|Vitek measures a leader that was submitted in a record-application package that also included notarized paperwork, a Boga-Grip scale and appropriate pictures of the catch. (ADRIAN E. GRAY)|
Fish must be weighed on an IGFA-certified scale either on solid land or from a firmly fixed structure attached to land, such as a dock.
“Weighing a fish on a boat won’t work,” says Vitek. “If you’re bouncing around, you won’t get an accurate reading.”
While scales must be certified, they can — and often are — certified after a catch is made, according to Vitek. In such cases, the angler generally mails the scale to IGFA headquarters for certification, usually along with a record-application package that includes the original, completed and notarized application; the full length of leader, including hook and lure arrangement; the full length of double-line, still connected to and including 30 to 50 feet of main line; and photographs of the catch (more on that later).
Scales cannot be off by more than one increment of weight. A 15-pound Boga-Grip, for instance, displays weight increments of 4 ounces; so, if that scale measures accurately within 4 ounces or less of true weight, it’s certifiable by IGFA standards.
“If it’s a digital scale,” says Vitek, “we do a consistency test. We’ll put a weight on the scale three different times, and we need to get the same reading each time. If it’s inconsistent, we can’t work with that.”
A Game of Conservation
Firm rules also apply to photography. Three images are required by IGFA: a picture of the angler with the fish, a shot of the rod and reel, and a shot of the fish on the scale. Often, it’s possible to capture all three of these requirements in a single shot.
But that brings up a question: What if you’re fishing alone? Furthermore, what if you want to release your catch?
Both are fine. With the influx of digital, mountable cameras like GoPros, it’s relatively easy to capture shots of yourself holding a big fish on a scale with rod and reel in hand. And while most people think that killing a fish is required to establish a world record, that’s simply not the case, especially when dealing with inshore species that can be quickly and easily weighed on land (whether on shore or in shallow water) before release.
In fact, Vitek says that over the past two years, approximately 50 percent of all record submissions were released fish.
Arostegui has been among the leading proponents of releasing records. He even weighed and released a 385-pound lemon shark to establish a new 12-pound-tippet fly-rod record several years back.
“I am very proud of that fact,” he says.
Indeed he should be — and it just goes to show that nothing is impossible when it comes to fishing for world records. It’s a time-honored angling tradition that epitomizes the best in sport fishing, and will never go out of style.
About the experts
Jack Vitek is the IGFA’s world-records coordinator. A graduate of Stetson University in Florida, he can be reached at 954-924-4246 or email@example.com to discuss all things world records.
Dr. Martin Arostegui has been one of the most prolific world-record hunters over the past 20 years. A retired doctor from Miami, he holds more than 400 IGFA world records.