By Chuck Bauer
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often do you hear the story about the ENORMOUS fish
that was caught, yet, it never made it to a scale or graced the lens
of a camera? Or what about the guy who caught the lake record yet the
fish was disqualified because his fishin' license had expired? Or,
what about weighing a big bass on the bathroom scale? These types of
stories are part of OUR legacy as it relates to fishin' and just when
we thought we have heard it all, usually a new and unbelievable story
will pop up.
years ago on January 2, 1911, William Howard Taft and Theodore
Roosevelt helped establish the Boy Scouts of America. On that day way
back when, the Scouts adopted a motto that many of us are very
familiar with. As kids, most of us had to memorize that
"official" motto. Of course you remember it's . . . "Be
Reflecting back on when the motto was established,
I wondered what ever could have led these very famous individuals to
come up with such a profound statement, other than their outdoor
experiences. My reflection caused me to dig a little deeper. I looked
up the word "Prepared" in the dictionary.
It said that "Prepared," outside of its normal definition,
is associated with other words like intelligence, wisdom
and foresight . I believe history has attached those
words to the likes of Presidents Taft & Roosevelt.
So, how can we prevent ourselves from becoming just
another one of those crazy fishin' stories? Well, it's easy.
Let's use a little intelligence, wisdom, foresight and most
importantly, let's Be Prepared!
Some of you might be saying "I'm already
prepared." Of course, most are. Just look at your organizational
or preparedness skills when it comes to your fishing equipment or
tackle. Some of your garages rival the best stocked aisles or shelves
at Bass Pro Shops, you are so organized. Yet, are you REALLY
prepared? Do you REALLY know how to certify a big
fish? What if you are fishin' a small pond or large lake, are you
ready? Many of us dream of that moment in time when mother nature
delivers up that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yet, I'd
venture to say that 99% are not prepared for that exact moment.
Being prepared means forming habits and procedures
that are implemented and used at all times. First off, day-to-day
habits take about thirty days to form, or in other words you'll need
to do the same procedure about thirty times in order to form the
habit. You see, certifying and being prepared for those big fish takes
a consistent effort in organization and preparedness. Regardless of
fishing a pond or lake, I gather the tools of my trade and follow the
same procedures each time. I am always prepared.
SO BE PREPARED WITH THE FOLLOWING
CERTIFIED SCALE. Yes, my scale is certified. Now,
some would say "How do you get a scale certified?"
Well, it's easy. First, you need a decent digital scale (the
De-Liar is not a digital scale!). I use the Berkley Scale that is
sold in most stores and it can handle a fish up to fifty pounds.
Then, look up in your yellow pages or on the internet and find a
business that sells and services scales. In most cases, they will
be able to take your scale and certify its accuracy. They will
perform different tests and if the scale passes, your scale is
then certified. The certifying company will provide you with
documentation on the test they performed along with the test
results. Beyond that, they will place a sticker on your scale. The
sticker provides basic documentation, who performed the tests, the
phone number of the certifying company, etc. For those of you that
live near the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, I use Accurate
Solutions. Their toll-free number is 1-800-213-5505. Their
website address is http://accuratesolutions.com/
My investment to have my scale certified was about twenty-five
- A TAPE MEASURE. A simple
investment of about two dollars will get you a tape that will run
out seventy-two inches or six feet. If you are certifying fish for
Bassin' Magazine's "Big Bass World Championship", you
will have to use the tape they provide.
- A CAMERA. I use a simple 35 mm, or you
can use one of the high tech new digital cameras. When I started
to certify fish back in 1997, I started with a 12 exposure
disposable camera made by Kodak. The main point is having a camera
to document your fish. Additionally, if you are using a 35 mm,
make sure to buy your film in rolls of twelve exposures. When you
bang a big fish, you can get your photos in to a one hour film
developer, especially if you are certifying for a contest, etc.
You will need to get your film developed right away and your
information sent in to the particular contest.
Be sensitive to how you take your photos. Make sure to be careful
of background, standing too close or too far, shadows, how your
face may look with the shadow of your baseball hat and for you
movie stars remember to remove your sunglasses!
- A FANNY
PACK. A great tool to use and have on your person
at all times when fishin'. Some items that are found in my pack
are my tape measure, needle nose pliers, hooks, scale, pen light,
polarized glasses, band aids, extra film, fingernail clippers,
etc. Mine even has a small outside pouch that is a perfect fit for
my cell phone. My camera case has a loop that allows me to attach
it to my fanny pack. Important stuff all in one place.
I use a three ringed
binder that includes all my certification rules and procedures,
predetermined mailing labels, copies of my fishin' license,
copies of my driver's license, photo labels, etc. Because I am
entered into three major contests each year, I have each
specific contest's guidelines in my notebook. I also
include the I.G.F.A. rule book and the State Of Texas
Share-A-Lunker toll-free phone number which is (888) 784-0600 or
cell phone (903) 681-0550. Being in the boat and near
water, I use clear plastic sheet protectors to protect the
documents from any water. And if you are planning to bang
multiple fish, you'll need copies of all the different
certification forms for each contest you're entered into.
The photo labels are ones that I make myself on my home
computer. With each photo, I place the label on the back side
and it reads like this:
Type of fish:
The mailing labels I use contain the name and addresses of the
three contests that I am enrolled in. Because one fish can
qualify for all three, it's much easier to have all the
addresses preprinted on labels so I can insert the photos and
certification forms in an envelope, place the corresponding
address label and right away mail the information.
100 PLUS QUART COOLER AND A 5 GALLON BUCKET - FOR POND FISHIN'
WITHOUT A BOAT I fish local ponds in or around the
Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex on a frequent basis so even then I
need to Be Prepared. I have in the back of my Suburban a 120 quart
cooler and a 5 gallon bucket. Now, there are many reasons
for this. First, if I catch a huge fish, I want to get it in my
tank, settle it down, and not be in such a hurry to take the
measurements and photos. By placing the fish in my
"tank" it gives the fish an opportunity to settle down
as well. And if I am fishing by myself, then it gives me time to
locate someone to be the witness and take photographs (once, I had
a woman who was pushing her baby in a stroller be my witness!)
The second reason why I want to have a large tank with me is for
that rare occasion where I bang two large fish. You can tank your
first fish and go back for more! One of my most popular fishin'
photos is when I was holding a 9.0 and a 7.8 pounder side by
side, which were caught out of a local pond here in Dallas. I have
other photos with me holding a 9.9 and a 9.6 pounder. On my fishin'
website (worldrecordbass.com) there is a photo of Paul Duclos with
a 14 and 11 pounder side-by-side. These are career moments that
should be recorded and shared with others, and a tank will help
you do that!
Three Big Fish Contests I Enter Each Year:
- NORTH AMERICAN
Most species, including salt water; different levels of awards,
based on number of submitted fish. Bass must be twenty-two inches
or larger. Club is a lot of fun, great information in the
magazine, great people to be associated with. A certificate is
awarded for each fish submitted.
A witness, fish that meets the minimum length
requirements, official NAFC certification form and one photo of
you and the fish.
Start & End Dates:
September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2002
$12 a year to be a member which includes a subscription
to the NAFC magazine. Where do I enroll? http://visitors.fishingclub.com/home.asp
- BIG BASS RECORD
Eight Million Dollar Prize for new world's record.
$50,000 paid out for top ten bass caught each year. State-to-State
competition which highlights and in some cases pays for the top 30
spots in each state.
A witness, any largemouth that is two pounds plus, BBRC
Certification Form and three photos per fish. One, a photo of you
and the fish; two, a photo of the length measurement and three, a
photo of the girth measurement. If you catch the potential world's
record, you must call the BBRC toll-free hotline within 4 hours of
the catch and follow specific I.G.F.A. guidelines.
Start & End Dates:
January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2002
$10 a year to be a member. Where do I enroll? http://www.recordbass.com
MAGAZINES "BIG BASS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP"
$100,000 in cash and prizes. State winners win a trip to
Big Cedar Lodge at Table Rock Lake for a fish-off that determines
the national winner. Winners are based on their largest five bass,
based on length, that are submitted during the program period.
During the contest period, Bassin' updates each state standings
weekly which creates some great competition between registrants.
A witness, any Largemouth Bass, the Big Bass
Certification Form, a photo of you and the fish, a photo of the
fish on Bassin's measuring device and a photo of the fish with
it's girth measurement.
Start & End Dates:
January 1, 2002 to August 1, 2002
$18 fee. Includes a complete set of rules and regulations
for the competition, a specific Bassin' measuring device
(tape) and a Big Bass Certification Form, a one-year subscription
to BASSIN' Magazine (new subscribers only), entry into the
competition and coverage to certify one bass. All subsequent
fish-certification forms must be submitted with a $3 processing
Special Note: The measuring device (tape) that
Bassin' supplies is very fragile. In most cases, it will only last
a few times and becomes very ragged. I solve this by laminating
the tape which will in-turn last the whole season.
Now, here is the reason of why you want to be this prepared. When
you bang a fish that is that once-in-a lifetime experience you have
been waiting for, most fisherpeople will LOSE their minds!
They get so wrapped up in the moment, hootin', hollerin' and all those
other emotional things (yes, admit it, bass fisherpeople have
emotions!) that go on when catching a big fish they forget to follow
the correct procedures it takes to certify a fish properly. So, when I
bang a big fish, I can lose my mind for a few moments, hoot and
holler, then revert back to my certification book that will remind me
of all the things I need to do before releasing the fish back to the
This may seem like a lot of work, but being prepared will be worth it
in the end, especially when that once-in-a-lifetime moment occurs.
It's not enough to have all your rods organized perfectly in your rod
box or to have your tackle boxes just a certain way. Count on banging
a big fish, then Be Prepared to act on it when
it happens, and it will.
About the Author
Chuck Bauer is a noted Big Bass Specialist. Since 1997
he has caught, certified and released 137 Bass over 22 inches in
length. He has been recognized many times by various organizations,
including Bassin' Magazine, Texas Fish
& Game, North American Fisherman Magazine, Outdoor Life, Texas
Hunting and Fishing News, Big Bass Record Club, Bass Pro Shops
and The Dallas Morning News.
Chuck is a Professional Member of the National
Speakers Association, he gives monthly "Big
Fish" seminars at Bass Pro Shops and he
is on Pro Staff for Kick-n-Bass. He is a
featured outdoor writer for Bass Fishing Home Pages,
ProBass.com, BassResources.com, BigFishTackle.com, All Angler.com,
OklahomaBassFishing.com and FishingNotebook.com.
Chuck does FREE fishin' seminars
in and around the Dallas/Ft.Worth Metroplex. You may find out more
information about Chuck at www.chuckbauer.com