Our insightful general angling blogger, Colin Mitchell delves into merits of weighing catches, are the scales needed for every session? If you like this blog, please click the social media icons above to share with your fishing pals.

scales diff


YOU hook a fish, play it, land it… and then what do you do?

Some anglers slip the fish into a keep-net, others put them straight back, others weigh the fish and maybe even take photos. Nothing wrong with any of the above – providing the fish are retained correctly, treated with respect and are not out of the water for too long. But is it really necessary to weigh every fish you have caught?

That’s a question that has reared its head quite a lot recently when I have been out and about fishing and in tackle shops. So let’s think about it… we go fishing to enjoy the sport, socialise and catch a few fish.

A good day out

To be honest it doesn’t really matter how many we catch or how big they are so long as we have a good day out. And the size of the fish is relevant only to the water it has been caught from, the conditions you faced and the tackle and tactics you used.

There’s also little point in weighing a fish if it’s nowhere near a specimen or close to your personal best. In fact, other than catfish – which I catch few of – I never think about weighing fish unless they are obviously something very special.

A 1lb roach is a lovely fish and one I would be proud of but I wouldn’t weigh it just to check it is that weight. A tench that looks under 4 or 5lb wouldn’t need to grace the scales either but I’d be well happy going home having landed a fish of that size. Any carp into double-figures is a lovely catch – but I am more interested in its colour, scale formation and the quality of the fish than how much it weighs.

Colin Davidson, the popular Angler's Mail magazine carp guru, shows how it's done properly with a large catch. More than a few anglers, and you may know some, are not great at weighing fish... and I'm polite when I say that!

Colin Davidson, the popular Angler’s Mail magazine carp guru, shows how it’s done properly with a large catch. More than a few anglers, and you may know some, are not great at weighing fish… and I’m polite when I say that!

Putting weights in context

Weights mean little unless they are put into context. A 20 lb carp these days is still a mighty fish in my book. Yet for many people it’s hardly worth recording – which is sad.

If you land that fish from a prolific lake it’s probably not worth weighing. If you netted it from a river or canal it has to be recorded accurately in my book. So when do you weigh and when do you just admire?

You weigh an obvious close-to personal best and also any fish that is good from the water in which it was caught. And if you are useless at estimating weights you also weigh the fish. This is one area that really gets me going…

Over the years I’ve seen so many pictures of fish claimed to be a certain size that are obviously not even close to the weight. It’s not always easy to estimate the weight of a fish by looking at a photo as you need to see the depth of the body, know the size of the angler holding it and a number of other factors. Some fish are obviously big – others not so obvious!

If you didn’t weigh the fish don’t claim a weight. Admit it never went on the scales – say you only think it went XX lb.

When I hope I don’t catch

Sometimes I really do not want to catch a fish when people are walking the banks because they stop and can spoil your swim. Some walkers – and these are the ones that do make me grind my teeth – want to tell you how big the fish is that you have just netted.

In the past few weeks I’ve had a number of anglers stop as I have landed roach, perch, bream and carp and tell me what the fish weighs. They haven’t felt the weight of the fish and haven’t seen it at close quarters as it’s been in the landing net before I slipped it back into the water.

Blog MitchOne of the guys, who was with two kids, did in my mind get it bang on with his estimate. “That’s about 8 lb,” he said as I unhooked a carp in the landing net. That was what I thought the fish went, even though it looked chunky. He was the only one who came close as far as I was concerned. Every other estimate given to me was over the top.

Yes, that’s right, I am claiming my fish were smaller than other people thought they were! But in real terms I don’t really care what the fish went. I loved catching all of those fish, big or small, and then seeing them swim off as they went back.

That’s what fishing is about in my book. Enjoyment. Pleasure. Socialising. Respecting the environment. Every fish caught is a bonus to my day out…

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