Although fishing regulations are based on a particular fish’s length, it’s the weight of the catch we all care about. Fishing records for example are based on weight, so if you snag a particularly large Redfish, Snook or Speckled trout, you’ll want to weigh him so you can brag about it later to your friends.
If you have a good fish story to tell, the fish’s weight will be the first thing they will ask about, so you’ll want to be ready. Now we’re not suggesting you inflate the number by 20% to make yourself look better, but in the end, how you tell your fish lies (…oops stories) is entirely up to you.
Of course, you’ll want to be sure you weigh the fish before you throw him back or gut and clean him.
Many fishing charters around Tampa and along the Gulf coast will carry a scale on board, but if one isn’t available, you can take some simple measurements and get a pretty good idea of the fish’s weight.
We invite you to continue reading to learn more about this method, plus a little info on the different type of scales fishing charters may use to weigh your catch.
How fishing charters and anglers can estimate the weight of your catch without a scale…
A good digital scale will provide the most accurate reading, but often times, one isn’t available. Fortunately, there is a method anglers can use to determine how much their catch weighs.
This isn’t a necessity since the metric for determining if a fish is legal is its length, so as long as the fish falls within the requirements for its particular species, the weight is irrelevant. Regulations for fish caught in Tampa Bay are developed and enforced by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
We strongly recommend that if you’re going out on your own, you learn these size requirements and check back with the FWC every so often since they can change on an annual basis.
To get a pretty good idea of a fish’s weight, first measure its length, or the distance from the tip of its lower jaw to the fork in its tail.
Next, you will need to measure its girth, or the distance around the thickest part of its body, which is typically around the dorsal fin. If the fish is still in the water or you otherwise can’t get a full measurement, simply measure from top to bottom on one side and double that number.
All of these measurements will be in inches.
Once you have these numbers, you will plug them into the following formula developed by the International Game Fish Association:
(Girth x Girth) x Length)/800 = weight in pounds
Yes, we know this involves a little math, but fortunately most phones today have a built-in calculator. Besides, since we’re talking about fish, this is one time when math can be a little fun!
For example, let’s say you caught a Redfish and his length measures out to 36 inches and his girth is 18 inches.
Using the formula, we arrive at the following:
- (18×18) x 36)/800
- 58 pounds
Although this formula is fairly easy, there are online fish weight calculators you can use. Simply choose your species, enter the fish’s length and girth and get your weight in pounds, grams or kilograms. Since grams will be a much, much higher number, you could trick your friends into thinking you caught the Lochness monster or a whale.
However, we don’t take any responsibility for any negative reactions!
To get an exact measurement, Tampa fishing charters will use a scale on the boat or back at the docks…
Like we explained earlier, taking measurements and using the formula is just an estimate. If you really want to know your fish’s EXACT weight, you will need to use a scale.
There are a wide variety of scales on the market that range in price, but generally speaking, there are two different types:
- Hook scale – As the name implies, this type of scale has a hook you place in the fish’s mouth.
- Lip Grip – This type of fish scale uses a clamp rather than a hook to attach to the fish.
Older scales would have an internal spring that would compress as you put the fish on it. As the spring compressed, the fish’s weight would be indicated by a needle and numbers on outside of the scale.
These days, digital scales have become much more affordable and provide a more accurate reading.
Captain Steve Betz of Flats and Bay Fishing Charters in Tampa will always take measurements of your fish to ensure they are of legal size. He will also help you weigh them so you can have that magic number to take home with you. While you won’t necessarily keep everything you catch, you’ll certainly want to get these measurements.
To schedule a fishing excursion in Tampa Bay aboard one of the area’s top charters or learn more, we invite you to visit http://www.flatsandbay.com/tampa-fishing-charters/ today!
Cover image courtesy of Florida Archives