Chewin’ The Fat
HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP ? Fork vs Tip.
So is this a great looking 47cm fork length bass? Or …
…a better than benchmark, 51cm bass? What are your thoughts?
If you want to stir up a heated debate in bass fishing circles, you need only mention the “right way” to measure them. The unresolved angst is generated by the different methodologies the two camps maintain and an unwillingness of either side to concede or budge in their thoughts. Old school bass anglers have been driven by decades of participating in DPI Bass Catches where they were required to measure to the fork of the tail with a closed mouth on a tape, flat underneath the fish. The other camp have a more liberal policy of measuring to the tip of the tail (tipsters), often with an open mouth and the tail tips squeezed together to extract every last millimetre from the fish.
Now, I do have to confess to being a fork length fan (a forker), simply because it is difficult to manipulate the length of the fish and fork length further enhances the benchmark measurement of 50cm bass as a rare and boastful fish. I have heard the argument that we don’t measure our own height to the middle of our forehead (nor should we), but we also don’t measure ourselves on tip-toes and to the top of our hair. Both analogies are an anthropomorphic irrelevance and decisions on measurement should be made on consistency, therefore, fork length wins.
I can only speculate on the reason why anglers feel the need to manipulate a fish to make them seem longer. I think it stems from the innate human condition that has driven people to compete since before they started thinking for themselves and wearing more than animal hides. We can agree that anglers are a competitive breed, that’s a given, and if we’re not challenging a mate with “who buys the first beer for the first fish”, it could be that we are participating in a full blown, high stakes, 3 day bass competition and may be on a 1400km road trip, towing a $70K tricked out boat. The competitive nature of anglers permeates everything from social fishing to social media and I suspect much of the over-scaling of fish is to gain social media acceptance and the effortless likes that can be achieved.
I have two sayings that I apply to social media posts with regard to wild river bass fishing: If you don’t weigh it, don’t say it (guessing the weight of a fish and getting it wrong makes you look silly); and the other is, if you don’t measure it, don’t mention it. If you don’t work with measurement each day or in your job it is very difficult to accurately guestimate the length of anything. The longer something is, the greater the potential for error. In some cases, where anglers post pictures and overestimate the length of a bass the scathing attacks and calls for brag mat photos can emotionally cripple people.
The advantage of a fork length measure is it cannot be altered by tail manipulation. The disadvantage is that it robs anglers of bragging rights of that potential “50cm” bass.
The advantage of tip measurements is it elevates a reasonably common 46cm (FL) bass to the benchmark “50cm”. The disadvantage is that the bulk the extra 4cm of length (to make a true 50cm bass) gives a bass is exponential and is certainly very noticeable in photographs and that generates the doubt and mistrust in other anglers.
For some of the fish photos posted on social media, to be true 50cm bass the angler would need to be Andre the Giant for perspective, which they are clearly not. They are simply gilding the lily with poor guessing or deliberate intent — either way, the post looks ridiculous. I guess the answer to the issue is not to try and change anyone’s method of measurement, but to encourage anglers to declare their method when posting pics. “A nice 52cm (TL) bass” or “A nice 48cm (FL) bass” that way the opposing side can relate or convert. Either way, I’ll stick to the fork length measure I have used for over 40 years and let the photos tell the story.
Dave “Seamo” Seaman
Regular Contributor — Seamo’s Angle
Dave“Seamo” Seaman has had a fascination for fishing since his earliest memory as a 3 year old on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, near Wagga Wagga, NSW. His interest drove him to secure a regular column in Fishing News called Fish Scraps at the age of 14yo, where he contributed illustrations and articles of techniques and species. At 15, he had his first mainstream article published in Fishing World by the then editor, Steve “Starlo” Starling.
Over the last 40 years David has had commissioned and freelance articles and photos published in all of Australia’s leading fishing publications. A leading underwater fishing photographer, David was the first to introduce regular underwater photos into his articles in an effort to immerse the reader into the world below the surface.
The producer of the widely acclaimed, Wild River Bass series of DVDs, David enjoys creative challenges and strives to enhance all elements of his media productions. A fishing tragic by nature, there is always fishing on his mind or to do list.