Proper Measurement of Fish Critical to Fish and Fisherman

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PIERRE, S.D.—The S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department’s 2008 Fishing Handbook defines length of a fish as “the total length of a fish in inches, as measured in a straight line along a flat surface, from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.” Sometimes the instrument used to measure a fish is just as important as how the fish is measured.

There are many commercially-made devices on the market today that allow anglers to measure their catch; however, not all are created equal. It has been found that the material with which the device was constructed can impact accuracy of its measurements. Some stick-on-rulers are known to shrink when exposed to various outdoor elements. The accuracy of these measuring devices can be compromised leading to illegal harvest of fish.

To avoid unnecessary citations and protect the fisheries resources of South Dakota, Game, Fish and Parks conservation officers and fisheries biologists suggest choosing measuring devices made of metal. To further reduce uncertainty, check with your local conservation officer directly, and ask what specific measuring device the officer uses. A commercially-made ruler can cost from $5 to $25. However, all are cheaper than a citation for a short fish.

“When we are doing compliance checks for length limits we use a flat metal ruler and if the anglers are using the same type of measuring device there should be no question on the actual length of the fish,” according to GFP Conservation Officer John Murphy of  Pierre.

Harvest regulations are designed to spread harvest out and maximize opportunity for anglers using fisheries resources in South Dakota. The effects of those regulations are negated when anglers fail to comply.

Anglers are noted for using high-quality equipment while they’re fishing. They can help conserve South Dakota’s resources and avoid citations by making sure that the device they use to measure the fish that they catch is of a high quality, too.