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What is a trophy fish?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Master Angler, May 19, 2005.

  1. Been doing some thinking about an objective measure of truly trophy fish. Top 5% of size distribution for waters in the region or top 1% or top .1%? In other words, top 1% = 1 in a 100 fish, top .01 is 1 in a 1000. I caught a fish at the end of last year that was 1 in 100,000 or .0001. I have figured this a lifetime fish and am no longer on a quest for a trophy for this species as I figure my chances of catching one bigger are very very slim (unless I catch her again this year ;)). Does this "system" make sense? To me its alot more objective than personal best or other measures. The only other thing would be to say top % in all waters but we know some regions vary considerably. Of course some waters with skewed pops may not contain any/ few trophies and others alot more (good info to know when on a quest for a trophy). I won't trouble you all with the statistical methods to derive this unless you want to know ;) I have also developed a statistical model to quantify fishing skill but I will save that for later.
  2. Seem like a great method to determine a true trophy fish. One in 100,000 seems about right.

    However, where are you getting your data for species size for any particular body of water? That is, how do you know that the fish is truly in the top nth percentage?

    And yes, I would LOVE to see the ANOVA!

  3. A trophy fish for me is really the whole fishing trip, not just the size of the fish I catch. Some of my favorite fish that I have ever caught and that I would call my trophy fish were the lake trout I caught in the BWCA a few years ago. Non were very big and would be considered trophy fish by the size of them but to me to catch them from canoes in the middle of the north woods wilderness with my dad was the best. I consider those fish more trophies than any other fish I have caught even though I have caught much bigger fish and some that would be considered trophy size for that species and body of water.

    I guess to answer the question for the size of a trophy fish for me would probably be in the top 1% since I dont get to fish very much anymore. If I could spend several days a week fishing it would take a bigger fish to be a trophy fish maybe something in the top .1%
  4. catking

    catking Banned

    I like your formula MA . But I also agree with twistertail . A trophy fish is in the eye of the beholder .....JEEZES US !!! you can sure tell who has Master Degrees on this site.... :D .... this can be an interesting thread for sure... THE CATKING !!!
  5. Rooster,
    First - I measure fish by length not weight (too much seasonal variation).

    If you have adequate catch data (personal or from gov't) you can derive sample population means and standard deviations. A third deviation fish is in the top 1% (actually top .5% for a two tailed distribution but I digress). For instance, lets say the sample mean for Ohio crappie is 9" and the standard deviation is 2.5", then a 3rd deviation fish would be 16.5". You can also calculate p values for any given length (remember z-scores?) need for an anova which compares means unless you are comparing two populations (possibly a good way to evaluate trophy potential). The other way of thinking about it is with a one tailed mortality curve and overlaying growth data to the mortality data. You would then find the probabilty of a fish reaching age X (say for p=1/1000) and then the corresponding size range. The first method is simpler. Note once you go past 3 deviations the bell curve flattens considerably so it doesn't take a much larger fish to be much rarer and in theory the bell extends infinitely and we know fish don't reach infinite sizes. If my example for crappie were true than a 16"+ fish is definitely a true trophy and an 18" fish unreal...a lifetime fish for a dedicated crappie fisherman. Sizes beyond that are so ludicrously rare as to not exist anywhere in fishable numbers. The thing to remember is that lets say in a 1000 acre lake there are 1,000 adult crappie. Then there would be 10 crappie in the 16" range and 1 18" fish (this assumes that there isn't any cropping going on which we know to occur). You then have to find the one fish in 1000 acres and hope it is feeding and that you can land it. Now you get an idea of how hard it is to intentionally catch a trophy. This is why so many "monster" fish fall to the "snoppy rod effect" - the odds are almost too stacked against even a great fisherman and you have to spend alot of time on the water. Very few of our state records were caught "on purpose".
  6. Bass_Hawg

    Bass_Hawg Certified Hawg Master

    I likes hows you do you r matha ma matics Hu Hu!

    I think a true trophy is in the eye of the fisherman. I have caught some nice fish in my short time on this planet and I would half to rate only 3 or 4 as true trophies, in my book that is. It has to do with how I caught them, who I was with, the story behind it and the situation that was being delt with at the time.

    A 7 pound bass is a nice fish when it is partly cloudy water in the mid 70's just before daybreak.

    that same 7 pound bass caught in less than desirable conditions that may be the tournament winner or even the only fish you and your fishing buddy caught that day could mean more.

    BUT a 2 or 3 pound bass caught by your son, daughter, wife or you get the idea would be a bigger trophy yet.

    just my .02
  7. crankus_maximus

    crankus_maximus Crankus Baitus Maximus

    I think you've watched that show "Numbers" too much:) A trophy is defined by who caught it and by no other. It's an art, not a science.

    Now that is opinion, not truth.
  8. I am with twistertail all the way on this one...
    I don't need no rod bending once in a lifetime fish to be my trophy... I have some memories that are simply priceless and are my best trophies by far...
  9. I really like your thinking on this subject. I understand that people may consider a fish to be a “trophy” for many different reasons, and I do not intend to belittle that process. I just like the idea of having a quantifiable definition of a trophy fish in Ohio.

    If the ODNR made their fish survey data available (which I would imagine that they do). It would be possible to determine the statistical significance of a particular fish with respect to the state of Ohio (rather than just within a particular body of water).

    In your 18” crappie example, it is a 1 in 1000 fish with strict respect to the population. However (and you eluded to this), while relative to size it is a 1 in 1000 fish, this is still not a really good indicator of the odds of actually catching a fish of that size. Any statistical analysis that would help to illuminate the statistical significance of actually catching the fish?
  10. Interesting idea...though I can't see there being enough data for various bodies of water covering enough species of fish to get even a rough estimate of what a true trophy would be based on this method. I'm not all that sure on how much data the ODNR gathers, I could be wrong on that. Personal catch data wouldn't work, because there's no way to guarantee that you are catching a random sample of the population. From my perspective of fishing for carp...typically you are going to catch a much higher percentage of smaller fish than larger fish compared to what is realistically present in a population just based on the differences in feeding (and living) habits of the different sizes of fish. The exception would be in the case of skewed populations where the average size of the fish is much larger than in other bodies of water and the chances of coming into contact with larger fish is increased (though by your definition these fish wouldn't be trophy class specimens).

    I do like your approach better than the typical approach of seeking a specimen fish that surpasses a certain "benchmark" agreed upon by fellow anglers who target a specific species. To me, I'd place much more value in catching a 30+ lb carp from Ohio's inland waters than from catching the same sized (or even a bit larger) fish from the St. Lawrence or Town Lake. Of course...I'll take either of them, though :D .

    By the way...while I understand why fish length is for the most part a better measure of trophy quality than fish weight...I don't care how long my biggest carp is...only how much it weighs. Too many carp top off at similar lengths but will continue to put on weight depending on food source and their genetically determined "build". At the same time, though...this means most trophies (based on a benchmark weight) will be caught during the prespawn period.
  11. flathunter

    flathunter Mellons mentor

    I consider any fish I can catch a trophy, because I catch so few of them..LOL
  12. Definition Of A Trophy!
    Any Fish That Causes Your Heart, To Beat Faster And Puts A Smile On Yours Or A Youngsters Face. That Is A Trophy!

  13. Marshall

    Marshall Catch Photo And Release

    A 12 inch bass to finish your limit or the only one caught on a tough day would qualify as a trophy bass to me. I have seen days when a 1 lb 10 oz bass has won big bass at a tuesday nighter at griggs. That would be a trophy fish. With that being said everyone has a different idea of a trophy fish is.
  14. very true mbass just this year my dad and i went on our yearly trip to douglas lake. we have caught plenty of 12-13 in slabs but haved dreamed about a big one. on the last day i caught a 15.5 in. it my not be huge but like you said when the fish hit the top of the water and we saw it we were going crazy. when we got it in and measured it we were thrilled. not any record or anything like that but the hugs and smiles on our face made that a trophy.
  15. What data does the DNR use for Fish Ohio? I would assume that the DNR thinks that the standards they set for FO awards would be considered trophy fish based on the average of all the lakes in Ohio. Sure you have a much better chance of catching a FO smallie from lake Erie than you do from a small creek but I really dont see how they could have a different trophy standard for each body of water, too much research and money is already tight.

    Maybe we could have an OGF trophy system based on your idea of the top 1% or .01% and so on. Have like several different levels of trophy status for each species of fish. And maybe seperate Lake Erie from inland waters. Maybe have your trophy status listed under your user name or something or list of people and their trophy catches for the year, nothing too serious just some standards that we all, well most of us anyways can agree on as to what is "trophy fish".
  16. Well I can appreciate where some of you are talking about per personal reasons for calling a fish a "trophy", but I am interested in an objective standard for classifying truly big fish. As per Fish Ohio standards...they are almost worthless as some are much more difficult to attain than others. Clearly they should distinguish between Lake Erie (and Ohio River) and inland waters. In Fisherman has much better standards in general but even some of their standards are skewed...and their regions are huge. The state of OH has reams of catch data and personal data can be used if you have a large sample over several years. Rooster's point about the likelihood of catching an outsized specimen is well taken and I alluded to it with my crappie example. Strictly speaking if there are 1000 crappie and 1 is 18" than the odds of catching that fish is 1/1000. This doesn't take into account increased fish wariness, etc. with size/age which makes it even tougher. There are ways to model this..for example say an 18" crappie is 4 times warier than a 9" can build that into a model. Obviously this can get complicated - so I'd say just stick to just trying to figure out an objective measure for trophy size. CWcarper's point about fishing a body of water lousy with bigger fish is well taken...if you go to canada and catch a 40" pike that is not a trophy for there, whereas in Ohio waters it would be. Also, his point about weight is true to an extent...prespawn fish will always be the heaviest.
  17. Hooch

    Hooch Fare Thee Well!

    Did anyone ever catch the "million dollar bass" at Buckeye Lake? I think Budweiser or someone had a tagged fish swimming 'round there and if anyone caught it during a certain time period they won a million $. That would be a trophy fish.
  18. Any and All fish my kids and wife catch is a Trophy,Thats what fishing is all about...