The first thing to do after catching a fish is to weigh it, whether it is a bass or a perch. The dimension and weight of the fish determine whether you can keep it, eat it, or you should release it.
Regardless, all the catches are worth a snap, and the size, along with the weight, makes it much better. So, what is the best and safest way to weigh a fish without hurting it?
Definitely, you will need a scale to get the accurate weight of the fish, but you can also eyeball it and compare the length with your arm for a fast and rough estimation. To get the precise weight, you will need a scale.
Most scales have hooks at the bottom. Pierce the hook through the soft skin of the fish near its mouth and let go of the fish. Alternatively, you can insert the hook underneath the gill plate without piercing. Using shopping bags is even safer.
You can also use a stationary weighing scale to weigh your catch, but it is not recommended. The reason is, when you put the fish down on the scale, it is hardly going to lay motionless.
It will keep jumping and thrashing about, trying to get back to the water, even if you put the fish in a bag. Meanwhile, you are very unlikely to get the right weight. So, handheld scales are much more preferable. With that said, here’s-
Table Of Content
How To Weigh A Fish?
The fish thrashing about is a problem even when you are using a handheld scale. It will mess up the reading. Additionally, it might as well damage itself in the process. So, the first thing you should do is to calm down the fish. When it is ready for the scale, put it up and take note of the reading.
There are several types of scales out there, but the handheld scales with hook or clamp at the end are the easiest and simplest ones. Sometimes, the scale has a ring at the end. In that case, you will need to use a separate hook or clamp and attach that to the scale.
Measuring With Hooks
Whether your scale has a hook directly attached to it or you are using a separate hook, the process is fairly the same.
- Take the fish you want to weigh and hold it safely and securely. You need to be extra safe when handling catfish. They often have poisonous spikes, and if you are not careful, you might hurt yourself. Be sure to calm the fish down.
- Take the hook and insert it underneath the gill plate of the fish. Some people prefer to pierce a hole in the soft skin near the mouth of the fish, but why make a hole when there is an existing one? The gill plate is strong enough to take the pressure anyway.
- Slowly let go of the fish and let it hang for a few seconds until the reading on the scale settles down on a fixed value. Be sure to take a few seconds before taking note. After 5-10 seconds, the reading reaches a point and doesn’t fluctuate more than a unit or two. That’s the weight of the fish.
- Last but not least, put the fish back to the intended spot. If you are to release it, gently put it back to the water. You should not throw it in the water from a height. Sometimes, it can lead to the death of the fish. More on it later.
Notes Regarding The Method
The method is fairly safe and reliable. However, there are a few things you should know of. Such as –
- Do not pierce the mouth of the fish one extra time just to weigh. While The hole generally does not affect the fish functionally, it is painful and has the risk of infection.
- Additionally, the hook of the measuring scales is quite thick. So, it will take a while for the fish to heal it. Take advantage of the already existing gap behind their gill plate.
- When inserting the hook behind their gill plate, be careful not to poke or, in the worst case, break any of the gill fins. They are squishy and can break, but if they do, it’s like a death sentence to the fish. To avoid tearing the gill, insert the hook on the outer side, touching the gill plate rather than inside and underneath the gills.
- Be sure to pacify the fish first. Otherwise, they may start jerking around on the hook and accidentally ripping themselves off or badly damaging them. It is not a big deal if you were keeping the fish in the first place, but if you were to release it, the fish might not survive.
A safer alternative to hooks is using clamps. If you use clamps, you are not piercing any hole in the fish’s body. Thus, the fish is at low risk. So, if you are using a clamp,
- Take the fish and hold it steady. Pacify it first if needed to get an accurate reading.
- Then open the fish’s mouth and attach the clamp to the lower jaw of the fish. Clamp it behind the jawbones, but not too deep inside.
- The size and strength of the clamp depend on the size of the fish. If you use a weak clamp for a bigger fish, it will be able to squiggle free.
- Similarly, a clamp that’s too strong might squash part of the fish’s mouth.
How To Calm Down A Fish That Is Thrashing About?
From the previous discussion, it is easy to see that pacifying the fish is important. If the fish moves, the reading on the scale will keep fluctuating nonstop, making it impossible to get the right value. So, how do you pacify a fish?
Most of the time, especially when the fish is big and strong, it will put up an excellent fight in the water before you can pull it in. Thus, it will be exhausted by the time you put it to the scale. But if it is not, then hold the fish strongly, or put it down and let it do its thing until it is exhausted.
When the fish is out of energy, it will inevitably calm down. Don’t worry; the fish is not dying…… yet. You will have like a minute before the fish actually starts dying. So, better hurry up and release it, or store it while it is alive and fresh.
How To Release A Fish Properly?
When releasing a fish, you should not just throw the fish back in the water. Although some people do it, it is not recommended. When you catch a big catfish, more often than not, it is exhausted, and then you put it out of water when weighing it, or taking a couple of pictures, or measuring. The process is suffocating for the fish.
So, it is not uncommon for the fish to go in shock by the time you are releasing it. If they are in shock, they will not be able to breathe and maintain their normal metabolism. As a result, they may die even after releasing them.
A good practice is, lower the fish in the water slowly and watch how it reacts. If it swims away, then it’s all good. If it’s not moving much, grab the fish by its mouth, keeping it open, and move it in the water in a circular or figure-eight pattern. This will make water flow around their gills, providing oxygen. In a minute or two, they will recover just fine, whereas if you just dropped them, they would not.
And that’s all there is to it.