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Think It's a State Record? Now What?

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.

Think It's a State Record? Now What?

Lionel Ferguson's historic 2018 catch is the heaviest black crappie ever recorded by the IGFA. (Photo courtesy of Lionel 'Jam' Ferguson)

Congratulations! Looks like another state record might just have fallen. It’s in the boat, but what now?

First, it’s important to know that while every state’s process for verifying and listing a potential record fish is pretty much the same, they’re just a little bit different, too. Some states also compile lake records.

It makes sense to familiarize yourself with your state’s procedures, so if you catch a possible record you won’t have to spend time figuring out what to do next.

Generally, follow these steps:


  • Research the procedure for verifying a record fish with the proper state wildlife agency—before you hit the water. True, it might not happen but, then again, it might. There’s no reason not to be prepared, right?
  • When the fish is in the boat, things get a little more complicated. Keep the fish cool—though not directly on ice—and, obviously, out of the sun.
  • Wrapping it in damp towels, damp burlap or a damp t-shirt will help prevent shrinkage.

MUST READ: Tennessee Black Crappie Certified As World Record


As quickly as possible:

  1. Get photographs of the catch with a tape measure in the images.
  2. Have the fish weighed on a certified scale with at least two witnesses. A certified scale is defined as a scale “certified accurate” by the state Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Weights and Measures, or another official agency.

Finally, most states require potential record fish be certified and/or verified by a member of the fish and game agency.

At that time, if not prior to, an application must be obtained or downloaded, completed in its entirety with witnesses as requested, and returned to the agency for review and authentication.

STATE RECORDS: Game & Fish State Records Archive




Both the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association, as well as the individual state fish and wildlife agency websites, are fantastic sources of information regarding the process of verifying potential record fish.

Good luck!

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