Sunday, April 26, 2015

Catch Photo Release Tournaments .. Is there a right way to measure that fish?

CPR or Catch Photo Release, is the standard tournament format across kayak fishing. It is a great way to ease stress on the fish and gives kayak anglers a way to conduct competition without retrofitting their kayaks with a live well. But one thing differs from one tournament circuit to the next, mouth open vs mouth closed in the photo.

Some tourney directors say get every inch out of the fish you can. Open the mouth, pinch the tail, whatever it takes to extend the length to the max. Other trails want the jaw shut all the way down, and of course there are some that don't care either way. This leads to the question - Is there a right way to measure a fish?

The photo below is taken from the Florida Game and Fish Dept web site, the rule is the same for every other Game and Fish organization I looked at. I assume the reason they choose to use the mouth closed technique is the accuracy that comes with it.

I serve as a tournament director on The Razoryak Tournament Trail (RTT) here in Arkansas. We have adopted the mouth closed standard for tournament photos. The RTT also standardizes the board that has to be used by all anglers to ensure there is no variance between types of measuring devices. This falls in line with the rules set by several large tournaments and my hope is this becomes the standard across competitive kayak bass fishing. Other than the difficulty some people have getting the jaw of some fish to shut, I can think of no negative effect of using the mouth closed technique. When an event allows the fish's mouth open in photos, there is no way for the measurements to be accurate from fish to fish. 

At a traditional bass tournament, a 1.5 lb fish is a`1.5 lb fish, no matter how you put it on the scale. You can't "get all you can out of it", it is what it is. In a total length event, when the mouth is closed a 15" is a 15" fish, period. But when an angler is allowed to manipulate the jaw they are able to sometimes gain over an inch of total length. There have been many total length tournaments won or lost by fractions of an inch. In a recent event I tested the theory on the little guy pictured below, as you can see it enabled me to gain an extra half inch. 
Opening this fish's mouth gave me an extra .5"
What does your trail do and/or where do you stand on this topic? I think a standardization of kayak bass fishing tournament rules across the country would be a good thing. I love traveling to different events and meeting new people, having to learn new sets of rules can be frustrating. But regardless of how your local club handles this rule, get out there and have fun, that is what kayak tournament fishing is all about in the end anyway.

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