Measurements and verification
If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in the situation of thinking you have caught a record fish, here are a few suggestions about what to do first:
- Calm Down! Inevitably you will be excited to have caught this great fish. If you intend to claim a British Record it will help a great deal to ensure your claim is successful if you now think through what you need to do.
- Take care of your fish. If you intend to return your fish alive to the water please do all you can to keep your fish safe and healthy while you prepare camera, scales etc. – even if this just means resting it in the landing net in a sheltered spot.
- Find a witness. If there are other anglers nearby you should have no trouble finding someone (preferably two people) to witness the weighing of your fish. If there is nobody close by you might need to telephone someone to come and witness your fish. (We will not consider claims when the weighing of the fish has not been witnessed). If there is a witness who also saw you catch the fish, even better.
- Weigh (or re-weigh) the fish in the presence of your witness(es). This is a crucial part of the process and the weighing of the fish must be carried out punctiliously. First the scale should be zeroed, with the sling, net or bag in which the fish will be weighed in place. The fish should then be placed in the sling/net/bag and the scale reading recorded. If it is possible to photograph or video the whole process (including the scale readings) that may also be helpful.
- Take photographs. Please make every effort to provide plenty of clear colour photographs which show the proportions of the fish relative to other objects (a tape measure is great if you carry one). A photograph of a fish held out at arm’s length towards the camera is unhelpful as it is very difficult to determine the true proportions of the fish. If there are any particular features which will help to confirm the identification of the species, please provide clear images of these.
- Return or kill? The expectation is that coarse fish will be returned alive to the water. Also game fish where mandatory catch-and-release regulations exist. In the case of some sea-fish species it is very unlikely that a positive identification can be made from photographs and the fish may need to be dissected or x-rayed to confirm the species, so the captor must decide whether to release or kill the fish. Note that no protected species may be killed.
- Scale removal? In the case of a few coarse fish which easily hybridise, you might wish to remove one scale from the fish’s flank between the dorsal fin and the lateral line, to enable a DNA analysis to be made if necessary. This applies currently in the case of Roach and Rudd and may also be helpful in some cases for Crucian carp.