Measuring Freshwater Fish
- Place the fish on its side with the jaw closed
- Squeeze the tail fin lobes together
- Measure in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the extreme tip of the tail
- You must release all fish shorter than the minimum length indicated for that species.
Measuring Saltwater Finfish
With the increasing popularity of saltwater angling, length, creel, and seasonal limits are being used to manage finfish in state and Federal waters. However, many anglers, particularly novices, find these regulations somewhat confusing. For instance, in freshwater, anglers measure most fish using a total length technique. However, in saltwater, fish are measured using a variety of techniques.
A spotted seatrout, which has a soft tail, is measured using the same technique you would use to measure a largemouth bass. A king mackerel, which has a deeply forked and rigid tail, is measured using a fork length technique. A billfish, such as a sailfish, is measured using the fork length technique; however, the measurement is taken from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail.
In many cases finfish which have a rigid forked tail will suffer damage to their tails during transportation from offshore fishing grounds. Consequently, if all saltwater finfish were covered by total length measurements, the angler might find themselves in a situation where the fish they caught was legal, but when that same fish is measured at the dock it would not be legal. Therefore, fishery managers have formulated the length regulations based on specific characteristics of the different finfish.