Fishing Lines: For the record, size does matter

Could you tell the difference between a nkupe and a sailor's choice? A nembwe or an oshitabirame? What about a binga or a bludger? Neither could I. To tell the truth, if a stingray snaffled my bait, I'd struggle to tell if it was a black, blue-spotted, bluntnose, common, Atlantic, cowtail, daisy, diamond, pelagic, roughtail, red or southern, never mind whether it was a round ray or Haller's round ray.

But there are people who do know. They can identify the 32 species of rockfish, or the 33 types of snapper worth catching. They are the Keepers of the Record.

Until fairly recently, people didn't bother too much with formal records. Fish fell into two categories: edible or inedible. The latter had subcategories (tastes like a dead rat; gives you stomach cramps; kills you). The former group tended to be more popular.

Records are, generally speaking, a bloke thing. Put two men together and they will compete, whether it's running, jumping, climbing or catching fish. Men want to catch the biggest one from a river, or even better, the biggest ever caught.

Saltwater records of a sort had been kept for some years by the American magazine Field & Stream, but the fishing editor, Dan Holland, recognised their lack of rigour and was quick to endorse the idea of a dedicated record-keeper. On 7 June 1939, while Neville Chamberlain (a keen angler) was chewing his nails and thinking, "This is going to screw up my autumn week on the Tweed", a group of Americans were concerned with matters of far greater import. They set up the International Game Fish Association, now the arbiter for all world angling records.

The IGFA (motto: No Whoppers Here) are very strict. Their 2006 World Record Game Fishes has 14 pages on submitting a claim. It includes having your signature witnessed by a notary, and backing from an ichthyologist who has examined the fish, in case you get your blacktip shark mixed up with a blacknose, blacktail, blacktip reef or blackmouth cat shark.

Records have grown to include categories for women, juniors and "small fry" (under 12), for species caught on fly-fishing tackle and even for the strength of line used. Some catches on flimsy lines are extraordinary: a 119lb blue shark on 2lb line; a 124lb halibut on 6lb; a 562lb marlin on 8lb. Many names appear several times: Niel Schultz holds all the Australian bass records from 2lb to 16lb line; while Stacey G Parkerson appears to have spent the past three years fishing for mullet snapper in Costa Rica and Panama: she holds all the women's records except for two.

And for what? Well, you get a badge, a certificate and, er, that's it. No money, no supermarket openings or appearances on Parkinson. But the badge does say: IGFA World Record Holder.

Most of us will never reach such lofty heights. But at $35 (£20), IGFA membership is a terrific bargain. Not only do you get the 384-page records book, you also get to talk to people who can tell you how many blotches on the operculum of a double-spotted queenfish (so easy to confuse with the talang queenfish). You never know when you'll need friends like that.

More details: www.igfa.org

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us