Preserving a State Record Fish

man holding fish in a barrel

Landing a record fish is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for any angler. However, to be recognized for this achievement, an angler must have their catch certified by an FWC biologist using a certified scale. Oftentimes when anglers catch a potential state record fish, it will occur after business hours or during the weekend, which can result in hours, and in some cases a day or two before the weight is verified by a biologist. Over time, fish can lose weight in several ways including metabolic processes, regurgitation, defecation and water loss. Since a record catch can be decided by only a few ounces, any weight loss can result in an angler not receiving the record. In July 2018, FWC researchers from the Joe Budd Field Office in Quincy began a study to determine the best practice for preserving a fish to be submitted for a potential state record. Researchers are looking at four different fish species: flathead catfish, black crappie, largemouth bass and bluegill.  For each species they are looking at four different preservation techniques: keeping the fish alive in a livewell with aeration, putting the fish on ice, putting the fish in an icewater bath, or freezing the fish. They are monitoring the weight of all fish over a 48-hour period to determine what works best for the fish to maintain a weight similar to the time of capture.  Results of this study will serve as a guide to anglers on how to preserve their catch to ensure weight loss does not occur, or is minimal, before the catch can be certified by an FWC biologist.