Barbs and Backlashes


To measure is to know–Lord Kelvin by whitetips
September 13, 2010, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know of my campaign for catch & release and especially catch & release of big fish.  I have written a couple of posts about proper fish handling so that those released fish have the best possible chance of survival, https://barbsandbacklashes.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/fish-handling/ , https://barbsandbacklashes.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/tick-tock-tick-tock/ .  With length limits you may have to measure a fish before it is released and even when I know I am going to release a big fish, I still want to know how large it was.

Now, the length measurement us pointy-headed, fisheries biologists use is called total length.  The total length of a fish is measured with the mouth closed and the tail fin pinched, and total length is THE correct measurement for length limits and for measuring the “official” length of a fish.  (I have to insert here that there is one exception to this total length measurement for Nebraska anglers–the correct measurement for a paddlefish is from the front of the eye to the fork of the tail; other than that, total length is the official measurement)

Total length

Obviously the easiest way to make that measurement is to lay the fish on a “bump board”.

Make sure to wet any bump board or measuring device before laying a fish on top of them.  I use that bump board mostly for measuring panfish and that is why I added 8 and 9-inch lines.

For bigger fish you need something more.  There are longer, commercially-made bump boards or you could make your own.  Those are still great for measuring big fish, but those big bump boards are cumbersome to transport.  If you have a boat, you probably have room for a long bump board, or a long measuring “pole”, but if you are fishing from shore, from a float tube or in a pair of waders you cannot carry a 50-inch bump board with you.  So, let me suggest some other ideas.

Of course you can carry a tape measure.  There are dozens of tape measures that you can easily fit in a tackle box or pocket.  I carry a retractable cloth tape that is small, light and cheap.

The problem with a tape measure is unless you roll the tape out and place the fish on top of it, you will likely end up inflating the length measurement at least a little bit by holding the tape over the fish along its curves.  And of course I will always grumble about fish-handling techniques whenever a fish is laid on a boat floor or on the bank.

So, let me suggest some other techniques for measuring fish.  If you have read my previous posts on fish-handling for catch & release you will know that I believe a quality landing net is an excellent tool for handling fish to be released.  Now, let me specify what I mean by a “quality landing net”.  I mean a landing net that has rubber mesh or a knotless, rubber-treated mesh.  The old nylon landing nets are very hard on fish as that old nylon mesh is very abrasive to the skin and fins of a fish.  So, I am suggesting you use a rubber-mesh or rubber-treated mesh net for landing fish.  Keep the fish in the net, with the net in the water as much as possible.  I have added a tape measure decal onto the handle of the landing net I use most of the time.

You might have to look close,but you can see the tape measure on the handle.  Yes, it has been used a lot and one of these days I am going to need a new decal, https://store.intermediaoutdoors.com/shop/ItemDetail.aspx?item=MTAPE1& .  With that ruler on my net handle I can quickly take a fish out of the net, hold it on top of the handle, pinch the tail and have an accurate length measurement.

I have one other idea for measuring fish.  If you look at one of your rods, I am betting there are all kinds of markings on it that can be used as measurement references.

Or, if you cannot remember how long your cork handle is, etc., take a marker and write it on the rod.  Or add some tape to the rod and mark on the tape.  Again using your rod as a measuring device will allow for a quick, accurate measurement with no harm to the fish.

Those are some ideas for you.  Oh, one other thing I will mention here.  Yes, I have one of those digital scales.  I use it to weigh my turkeys every spring; have not used it to weigh a fish yet.  A length measurement is all I want; given that I will have a real good idea of how much the fish weighed.

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1 Comment so far
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I have a plastic tray with quarter inch increments bought from Canfields. Where the marks are I colored them with a marker to make them easier to see. I use it for panfish since I cut it off to make it possible to put a lid on my fishing bucket. I use a tape measure for everything else.

Comment by Jeff




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