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Fish Scales ..Not Necessary

Fish scales of a different kind, years ago I developed a formula for determining the weight of a bass. One of the first questions that arises when someone sees a bass picture is, “how much did it weigh?” It was just an educated guess with a fib factor involved. There is the unwritten rule that the fish automatically gained two pounds when you lost them before landing them. (insert laughing face)

Handheld, battery operated digital scales have eliminated a lot of guess work, but many fish are placed on a bump board and then immediately released. Photos of a tournament identifier on a board are common but some paddles like my Bending Branches models, and some fishing rods have rulers embossed on the side of them. (Rulers are less expensive than digital scales and I am, always will be a low-tech angler)

A five-pound largemouth entitles most people to bragging rights but some folks like Jackson Kayak teammate Jean Wilson has “hooked up” frequently with double digit bass. A recent catch of hers showed a true trophy from all angles leaving little doubt that this was a monster fish. A gapping mouth, clear side views and a bump board photo showed a measurement of 27 inches, a genuine giant. Another picture of the display screen on a digital scale reflected a weight of *12 pounds and 3 ounces. (Remember that number) I reached for my phone, scrolled to calculator and once again the formula I used bore out the accuracy of a few simple steps using only the length of the bass.

  1. With the mouth closed lay the fish on a standard measuring device (tape measure, bump board or paddle ruler).
  2. Determine true length, tip of snout to tail.
  3. Take the number by inches and multiply as follows: length times length and again times length. 27 X 27 (in this case equals 729) now length one more time (729 X 27) = 19683, now divide that answer by 1600. (1600 is the number that works for all the family of bass species) that answer comes to 19883 divided by 1600 = *12.30. HOW ABOUT THAT!
  4. In the case of a seriously chubby fish or an emaciated, under nourished bass example you can add or subtract a few ounces based off appearance but the formula I presented will get you very close. Inaccuracy of an ounce or two is possible but the formula gets you close.

I rarely feel the need to measure or weigh a fish anymore. The catch, a quick photo and an immediate release is standard. When someone does ask about the size of one of my fish the response is usually “I’ll let the next person who catches it weigh it.”

A trophy fish is too valuable to be caught one time. With replicas now available and an abundance of small fish for meals please consider releasing your catch to thrill another angler and the future generations of fishing folks.

** Permission to use photos generously granted by Jackson Kayak team member Jean Wilson whom I have dubbed “Jean, Jean the fishing machine”.