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How to Certify a Trophy-Size Freshwater Fish

Certifying Your Fish By Length and Photo:

Certify a Trophy-Size Fish
  • Lay the fish on top of or beside a flat measuring ruler. Do not lay the ruler over the curvature of the fish’s body.
  • Close the fish’s mouth and squeeze the tail lobes together.
  • Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail to the nearest ¼-inch. See diagram.
  • If present, have an observer verify the length and include them in the witness information on the application. You are required to include a picture of the fish being properly measured on all trophy fish applications.  The photo must be clear and legible!
  • Fish certified by length only (no certified weight), do not qualify for “Angler of the Month & Year Awards”.

Certifying Your Fish By Weight:

  • Take your fish to a store with certified scales or weigh your fish on a personal scale that has been certified by an approved third party.   You are required to include a picture of the fish being properly weighed on all trophy fish applications if you want a weight citation.  The photo must be clear and legible!
  • If you are weighing your fish at a store with a certified scale, make sure you collect the scale information as you will need it on the online application.  Don’t leave the store before you have the scale make/model, the certification date, and who certified the scale whether it was the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) or another scale certification company.
  • If you are weighing the fish with a personal scale that has been certified, you will also need to include the scale make and model, certification date, and who calibrated/certified your scale.  Many anglers in the Online Angler Recognition Program with personal scales get their scales calibrated/certified on an annual basis by an approved third party such as the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).