Select Page

The Way 2 Weigh | Tips on Weighing Big Bass

Bill Schultz

As someone who has maintained a fishing log since rekindling my
interest in fishing in 1992, you’d probably expect that I weigh my bigger
smallmouth bass. And, you’d be right. Having caught and released
over 24,000 since 1994, I have a good idea of how much most smallies
weigh, yet I do like to confirm size when I think they are at least four
pounders or bigger.

My first digital scales back in the 90’s were designed with a hook to
hold the fish while weighing them. Even back then the hook bothered
me. I certainly wasn’t going to puncture the lower lip to weigh a
smallie and using that hook around the gill plate was a recipe for
disaster if the fish made sudden movements, which they often do. A
torn gill means a dead smallie, which is something that isn’t acceptable
for me. To protect the fish, I would put my hand close to their mouth
and any movement at all would bring my hand down over the fish to
keep from injuring it.

One well-known fishing product company marketed a gripper style
digital scale about 20 years ago provided me one for a product review
article. I always check the accuracy of all my scales using items of
various confirmed weights (example: a 5-pound bag of flour, or a five
pound dumbell). This scale weighed fish heavy by about ten percent,
something that was important for a proud angler to know. I suggest
you check your scale for accuracy as well.

Get a Grip

I first learned of the BogaGrip about 20 years, but I didn’t get to start
weighing fish with my first Model 315 until about 12 years ago and
haven’t looked back. BogaGrip scales have weighed over 3,500
International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) world record fish and
the IGFA has named it the #1 scale every year since 2004 when the
award was established. The accuracy, stainless steel construction,
small profile and light nine-ounce weight, make it a must have item for
me in my YarCraft, Jackson Kayak or wading in my Frogg Toggs waders!

For those who would like a high-end very accurate digital scale, I’ve had
a chance to use the Brecknell Major League Fishing (MLF) model and I
like it. This is the scale used by Major League Fishing in their immediate
release tournaments that are increasingly popular and, more
importantly, are much better for the health of the bass. Like
EastabogaTackle, the company that makes the BogaGrip, making high-
end scales for a variety of industries is all Brecknell does. Almost all
other companies selling scales have a third-party supplier.
The BogaGrip retails for $124.99 and the Brecknell MLF scale for
$84.99, so you don’t want to drop them overboard. I suggest buying a
simple float that can be attached to the scale just in case it ends up in
the water. I know because I unfortunately dropped a BogaGrip in a
Southeast Wisconsin lake from a kayak. In the kayak I tie my BogaGrip
to the seat or handle with a nylon rope. Like the BogaGrip, the MLF
scale is very easy on the fish and uses the Fish Grip Jr. for safely
gripping the fish. For those of you with the old, hook-style scale,
attaching the Fish Grip Jr. or Fish Grip Mini is a simple and great way to
make your scale much more fish friendly.

Quick Release

The welfare and survival of the smallmouth bass is a priority for me, so I
always have my BogaGrip handy in the boat, kayak, or fishing vest when
wading. I get them in fast and release them very quickly. For a picture
of those bigger smallies I have my camera mounted to the windshield
of my boat with the RAM Mounts Twist-Lock Suction Cup Mount and in one of my Jackson kayaks with the RAM Track Ball Mount. Personally, I prefer to not put fish in my livewell, but if you don’t have your scale and camera ready that’s an option. Putting that smallie in the livewell for a minute or two to get yourself ready to weigh it and take a picture
will protect the fish rather than trying to hold a big fish out of the water
unnecessarily while checking for your equipment. This is especially
important during the summer when water temperatures are getting
into in the 70’s and even low 80’s in some lakes and rivers. When kayak
fishing, I use the original Fish Grip, which is the larger version of this
great product made of a lightweight composite that allows it to float. I
tie it to the kayak with a nylon cord and the smallie can safely swim
next to the kayak until I’m ready to weigh it and take a picture.

Conscious Weighing

If you’re on a lake or river that you’re catching and releasing more than
a few smallies, I strongly suggest you only weigh the bigger ones. On a
body of water like Sturgeon Bay, for me a smallie must be approaching
four pounds to weigh it and on the small rivers I fish, maybe two
pounds and up, which is big for those rivers. Is there a reason to take
the time to weigh and even take a picture of smaller fish? I don’t think
so and this will let you get that fish back in the water safely and faster.
Weighing those big smallies is something many of us do. Our top
priority must be the welfare of these beautiful smallmouth bass. So, try
to follow the suggestions I’ve made. Only weigh bigger fish, do it
quickly with a gripper-style scale and get the smallie back in the water
as fast as possible!