Not trying to get all European on y’all here – like, say, going metric or pushing electric vehicles on you – but the kayak fishing community has adopted its own standard for measuring the fish we catch and it revolves around length, not weight.
After years of tournament experience, I can eyeball a bass and guess the weight to within ounces, but this isn’t natural. It’s a learned skill. What is natural is gyotaku, the ancient Japanese art form wherein anglers would cover their catch in ink and rub in on a piece of paper to create a facsimile of their trophy so they could share the wonder with their friends and family upon their return trip home.
As a kid I did something similar when I caught a huge bluegill. As a started to clean the fish for eating, I would begin by carving a tracing of the fish into the wooden planks of the dock so I could measure it against future catches.
Given our culture of Catch, Photograph, Release, kayak anglers are participating in an ages-old method of sharing the excitement and wonderment of our catches. And it is more intuitive, more relatable – and therefore, more awe-inspiring than referencing something as difficult to grasp as weight when we measure our success in inches.
Think of a Native American telling a story around a campfire and spreading their hands to demonstrate the size of their catch. What is weight? Who cares how much gravity the fish attracts? What is gravity anyway? Even Einstein wasn’t sure.
But physical size is intuitive. Even a newborn understands how he measures against the grownups.
Perhaps we, as kayak anglers should lead the revolution back to the old ways of doing things. Not just the way we catch fish, but the way we measure them as well.
Here’s my personal best. She was 26.75 inches long and fat as a football. And that’s good enough for me.