August 25, 2023


How important is it to weigh your fish? How often do you get your scales out? At what size do you get curious about your capture's weights? Like many would-be specialist anglers, I used to weigh far more fish than I do today. I recall my diary pages from 1970s tench trips as just a list of exact times and weights with little or no information of commentary added.

 When I fished the Tone in Somerset, I meticulously recorded the details of my chub captures even though they topped off at just 3lb 6oz. That was soon to change. I moved to Herefordshire and quickly discovered that the Wye was home to an enormous amount of fat chub and, bar getting a sighter or two early in the season, I was flicking four pounders off in the margins without so much as a second look. I'd check the weight of anything that looked like a 'five' and soon became quite adept at guestimating the difference between a 4.14 and a 5.01. 

But sometimes you lose your accuracy. I was happily watching my rod as a lump of meat explored a back eddy one day when John Bailey stopped for a chat. I instinctively reacted to a pull and quickly landed a nice chub. I slipped the hook out and immediately released it into the water at my feet, "A nice four", I said. John, slightly incredulous, replied, "I'd suggest it was beyond a four and by a fair bit in my opinion". I shrugged it off as just another chub but, was slightly irked that I hadn't been able to accurately log another five. Chub are like that, they can vary depending on body shape and just how fat they feel. I once dismissed a customer's first Wye fish as a nice but average chub, only for it to go 6lb 6oz. Boy, was I off the mark with that one. I have reached a stage where I do not worry so much about runner-up fish's weights and my son now slips back carp as mere 'low thirties'. I always put big carp on the scales. I also weigh any barbel that looks to be nine pounds plus, decent roach, tench etc. but, there is one fish that, until yesterday, I hadn't weighed for years.

Bream, love 'em or hate 'em, they can still demand some respect - honest. I've never had a double, far from it but, the best I ever put on my Avons was a 7lb fish that was foul-hooked. I had previously had them to 6lb 6oz and called that my pb. But, I seem to have suffered from bream blindness. I fished a small carp water that held just carp and a few large bream. I did take a couple of them one day and brushed them off as 5-6 pounders and a fellow member asked if I was certain as he's never heard of one under eight. When fishing the Severn and Wye, I sometimes envied mates who'd been pestered by eight pounders while mine were always under six. Am I just unlucky? I fished for bream on the first lake I mentioned and blanked whilst my son, fishing for carp, landed a bream of exactly eleven pounds. I did think it looked a little small for such a weight. 

Last week I had a chub that I put down as 'about three and a half', but I may have been under by a bit but, the tail is long so I told myself to weigh one or two to get my eye back in. 
Then, yesterday, I targeted some bream on another pool having heard of fish to double figures. The day was muggy and overcast, just the sort of summer day that, during the 80's and 90's would see me rush to Sedgemoor and bream fish on any one of several favoured drains. It felt cock-on for action and not long after my PVA bag of goodies and a lump of meat splashed down 35 - 40 yards out, the bobbin rattled to the butt ring. The wind was hammering into my face which brought a touch of drama to the proceedings. The familiar bream responses of pretending to be a plastic bag did little to enhance any excitement and a good-sized fish was soon netted. 'Hmm? Probably nearer 6 than 5' I thought and took a quick snap of it.

 I soon had a smaller one of maybe four pounds then another which, looked suspiciously large but was obviously smaller than the first fish. I decided to put a number on it just to set my mind at ease and so that my guesstimating would at least be more accurate. It went 6.02, and, as the two pictures will show, took up quite a bit less net space than the first. So, just how big was the first one? 

I think I'm going to have to go back and soon.

 Incidentally, if you do weigh every fish regardless of size, I suggest that you are being over fussy and possibly causing damage and stress needlessly to those fish. An ounce here and there means little so don't get so hung up on it. Catch a whopper though, and weigh away but please, do it quickly and carefully without allowing any fish to flop about on hard surfaces or to get dry. You know it makes sense.


  1. I think the longer you’ve fished the less important the weights are, that said I weigh barbel over 7, chub over 5 and pike over 10.

    Good luck with the bream mission

    1. You've seen the light Brian, you used to weigh every barbel regardless, but now you catch too many to bother.

  2. It's a difficult one that, I think when fishing a new river and the fish looks over 6lb you just get a record weight but ordinarily I wouldn't weigh any Barbel over 8lbs unless the above comes into the question. Any Chub that looks a good 5lb I'll weigh but again, from venues I've not caught from I like to get record weights.

    Fish like Grayling, if it doesn't look over two pounds I won't weigh it. But different horses for different courses I suppose and I don't think there is anything wrong with either stance.

    As for the Bream, best of luck!

    1. I was just venting, I get annoyed by my own stupidity. One man's big fish is another's average.