Things to Know About Weighing a Potential Record Fish

Ever notice how precise anglers are when referring to the weight of a catch? You might hear one of us say something like, "Excuse me, my bass was 6.27 pounds, not 6 pounds!" I'll bet a dollar to a hole in a doughnut that you've heard an angler immediately correct one of his or her fishing buddies when discussing the weight of a fish if the person happened to give a low-ball weight estimate. Now, on the other hand, if you happen to skew the unit of measurement in favor of the angler, only the most incredibly honest of our kind will correct you to mention the lower and more accurate number.

Whether the goal is to correct your fishing buddy with the accurate weight of your fish, pursue a potential state record, or just for a log of personal best catches, units of measurement can be important when it comes to fishing.

Say one day you're out flipping a jig near some reeds on Lake Okeechobee when you hook what you think might be a largemouth bass close to 18 pounds (let's call him basszilla). It could happen… wouldn't you want to be prepared? Yes, because you'd have to properly weigh basszilla to know whether or not you beat the current Florida state record holder for largemouth bass (Billy O'Berry) who landed a 17.27-pound fish on an unnamed lake in Polk County in 1986.

State record requirements vary so always check with the local department of fish and wildlife where you live or where you plan to fish for specific requirements.

Most state weigh requirements are similar to the below:

  1. Fish must be legally caught using an active hook-and-line method (including up to date fishing license) by sport fishing methods.

  2. Fish must be identified by a Commission biologist.


  3. Fish must be weighed on a certified scale. Scales can be certified by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or by the International Game Fish Association (scales up to 100-pound capacity). Weights are valid within one year of the scale’s certification. Scales that weigh in excess of 100 pounds should be examined by your local state agency or a company that is licensed and accredited to certify and calibrate scales.

In order for a fish to be eligible for a state record, scales have to be certified; however, there are other angler recognition programs, such as the TrophyCatch program in Florida, largemouth bass can be submitted for entry with clear photos taken using scales that suspend the fish or pan scales (see photos). The TrophyCatch program rewards anglers for catching, documenting and live releasing largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds.

Florida largemouth bass state record information and TrophyCatch photos courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.