Adventures in Weighing Big Fish.

About ten years ago, I was casting a small crankbait in northern California’s Lake Almanor for smallmouth bass. Fishing was slow as it was early spring and the water temperatures were still quite cool.

I finally had a strike and the fish fought hard. After several minutes, I had just about convinced myself that I was hooked into what had to be a lake record smallie – then a large “funny-looking” fish popped to the surface. I recognized the fish as a squawfish or pikeminnow, but it was chunkier and larger than any pikeminnow I had ever seen in the Pacific Northwest.

Wanting to find out just how heavy the fish was, I pulled out the digital scale I had recently purchased. It was still in the “tamper-proof” packaging and opening it was a major achievement with a pair of fingernail clippers. Finally, I put the jumbo pikeminnow on the scale – only to see the digital display read 3.8. I was shocked and upset, thinking I had just purchased a defective scale and “bounced” the fish a couple of times in an attempt to make the scale work. Then I noticed that the letters ‘kg’ were part of the reading. The jumbo pikeminnow weighed 3.8 kilograms.

I could not get the scale to switch over to weighing in pounds – but I knew that there were 2.2 pounds in a kilogram and it was easy to figure out that my 3.8 kilogram pike minnow weighed (3.8 X 2.2) or 8.36 pounds – or almost exactly eight pounds and six ounces.

When reminscing about this incident, I still feel foolish about my initial consternation – but I’m pretty sure it could happen to anybody – or almost anybody.

It happened to legendary walleye guide, Ed Iman, when he attempted to weigh the biggest walleye he ever caught.

But sometimes it’s the scale that is at fault.

Years ago, when Tag Watson was catching more humungous bass, both largemouths and smallmouths, than just about anybody in the Pacific Northwest – he cast a buzzbait out in the middle of a lake near his Bellingham-area home and caught the heaviest bass he has caught in the Pacific Northwest.

The lunker largemouth weghed about 11.5 pounds on Tag’s supposedly accurate scale – less than two ounces off the Washington state record.

Disappointed, Tag let the lunker largemouth go – only to discover later while “testing” the scale – that it weighted several ounces light.

Congratulations, Tag, on a great, but under-recognized catch.

Tag Watson’s giant largemouth would have been turned in for a Washington state record – if his scale had not “underweighed” it.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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