Fishing is a stress-relieving hobby for many, but some people also do it to receive awards and to put their names out there. If you believe that you’re ready for a bigger catch, you might want to check what records you can break in your state.
What do you need?
1. Fishing Gear
Get a rod and spinning reels from trusted brands such as Penn to make sure of their quality. The same goes for your fishing line, hooks, sinkers, and snap bobbers. The ideal baits for freshwater fishing are crayfish, crickets, grasshoppers, leeches, minnows, and worms. Artificial lures are also effective, but some species of fish are less responsive to it. Moreover, you might want to get a tackle box to organize all of your stuff.
You wouldn’t want to leave unprepared. Apart from your watercraft and the necessary gears, you need to check the weather, what fishes you can catch in the current season, and which fish species are eligible to apply for a state record.
How do you know if your catch is eligible for a state record?
1. Weigh It
Find a weigh-in station with a certified scale and get your fish weighed as soon as possible. It would be helpful if you know which station is near you beforehand so you won’t have to go through the hassle right after fishing.
It’s possible to have your scale certified by organizations like the International Game Fish Association, but whatever weight it will show won’t be accepted. Let your state do the weighing themselves since they have biologists and designees assigned to do this task.
2. Check the Qualifications
Check if your catch meets the qualifying weight or length for its species. In New York, there are different categories you can participate in the Angler Achievement Awards Program: Annual Award, Catch and Release, and State Record. Most of the details, including the regulations, you need are available in your state’s respective websites so
3. Get Signatures and Witnesses
Ask for the signature of the scale owner or operator to prove that the weigh-in details are legitimate. A witness (at least one will do) is also necessary.
4. Send an Official Entry to Your State
Know where to take your catch for verification. For example, in Washington, you need to take your fish to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) office and submit a sportfish record application. You can either download the form at WDFW’s website or get an application package from a nearby WDFW regional office.
In New York, a DEC biologist or a designee needs to examine the fish prior to cutting or removing the entrails. When done, you need to send an entry form or facsimile within 30 days of your catch to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Bureau of Fisheries. You also need to submit a clear, side view photograph of the fish.
A big catch definitely deserves an award. If yours didn’t qualify, however, don’t lose hope because — as the saying goes — there are plenty of fish in the sea.