Shark Tagging & Documentation Field Guide for Land-Based Anglers and Researchers

The author explains a research tag and applicator for German documentary film crew - Der Spiegel

Author Note: 10-27-09:
This field guide was produced and published a few years back, in response to questions and requests from: anglers, tournament organizers, members of the research and resource management communities, and interested members of the general public and media. Although, it is specific to catching, documenting, tagging and releasing sharks in land-based scenarios, allowing for closer and more controlled interactions, certain aspects of animal handling, and especially proper tagging techniques, still apply to boat-based fishing. A collaborative field guide designed for boat anglers is in production, as we speak, and will be announced and published here, once completed.

Always remember that, when practicing proper catch & release methods with sharks, the following, at the very least, should be considered beforehand, and implemented in the field:

1) The use of appropriately-sized circle hooks

2) Heavy Tackle (to reduce fight times): line, leader, rod and reel

3) Handy access to proper tools, such as de-hookers, pliers and bolt cutters

4) Investment of time in the study and practice of proper catch & release techniques

5) Adequate instruction on all the above for any crew and / or team members
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Forward by Sean Paxton:
I appreciate this opportunity to answer some of the questions I commonly hear including: how did I get involved in this sport, why did I start the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association (ILSFA), how are world records certified for released sharks, is catch & release shark fishing a passing fad or a sustainable trend, and what is the real value of recreational anglers who volunteer in tagging and other research programs? Last, but not least, though, is, 'How do you properly and safely document and tag sharks then release them from land for recreation, world records, when competing in a tournament or for research purposes'? All those questions will be answered before we're done, including some of the technical ones for those that don't know or anyone wanting to sharpen their skills, but I'll start with how I got involved in the sport, and why I started the ILSFA.

I started fishing, as a kid, from the more conventional platform of a boat deck and became fascinated with sharks from the time I saw JAWS in a standing-room-only theater when I was about 9 years old. Later, my career in wildlife interaction, documentation and research also originated on boats with the tagging and releasing of large species that included sharks. Since I was very young, my curiosity about the true size of any large fish was a constant, especially when releasing sizeable animals. I just wanted to get a better idea than the clues left behind in photographs or video. All you can really do in those cases is take an educated guess.

Without weighing, measurements are the only other alternative, but getting more than the total length measurement from a boat deck is, at best, a sometimes proposition, depending on how green a fish is, sea conditions, and the experience of the team you're working with. In some cases, certain fish can be briefly brought on board, allowing additional measurements of the fork and girth to be taken. From that, estimated weights can be formulated. When it comes to sharks of any respectable size, though, bringing them into the cockpit of a boat isn't usually a well-received idea. Other options would be having your go with a harvested specimen or the innovation of a weighing device capable of handling, but not harming, large animals like sharks.

It was around the turn of this century, that I discovered Land-Based Shark Fishing. The size of fish being captured and released by land-based anglers around the world was, in some cases, stunning. Up to that point, those following or actively involved in the sport, had all seen their fair share of impressive photos and heard of occasional measured total lengths, but for the most part, there were still only photos and guestimations of size. This, once again, raised my nagging curiosity to get a more definitive idea of the true physical scope of these animals. Only now, my interest had turned from the familiar pelagic variety to the impressive specimens I saw being caught and released in the surf zones of various beaches around the world. Unlike the brief and often chaotic crashing, thrashing and splashing that goes on when working with sharks on the line at boat side, there's just no other means of getting as up-close and personal with these animals. Diving is another practical way for closer interactions. I do it every chance I get, but it has limitations (like breathing through a life support system), and a sensible distance is typically maintained when you, as a diver, are truly the 'fish out of water'.

Up to this point, I knew of a very small handful of land-based anglers that were tagging their fish. However, the unique opportunity this sport provided to gather estimated weights and other data on multiple species of every size imaginable on a regular basis held my attention. The next thing you know, my brothers and I were storming the beaches, catching and tagging sharks for research programs, and of course, taking a measuring tape to each one before snapping a few photos and releasing them back to the wild. Those early efforts are well-documented, and since then, we're proud to say, the practice of thorough catch documentation has caught on within the sport and gained acceptance in a very big way. Now, nearly a decade later, measuring tapes, tags and even de-hooking tools are common items in the gear bags of land-based shark anglers everywhere.

Since the 1990's, what I refer to as sustainable recreational fishing (more commonly known as catch & release) has become increasingly more acceptable in the mainstream with other large species like billfish. By 'mainstream', I'm referring to the boat hunting demographic. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see catch & release shark fishing in the land-based arena was nearly an exclusive practice, even then. I value my rights to do so, and respect my fellow sportsman's legal decision to harvest any animal, but my affinity for wildlife interaction, research and documentation, coupled with a respect for this sport, got my imagination working overtime. The notion of official recognition for extreme angling accomplishments, released sharks, and the related research, documentation and wildlife interaction opportunities kept me up at night. In many respects, this was the beginning of my vision and concept for the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association. For a lifetime big game angler and shark researcher, it was all there; the thrill of the hunt and the call of the wild. I never looked back, and quickly adopted this as one of the greatest adventure sports in the world.

Finally, thanks to the support and encouragement of my brother and partner, Brooks, and some of the sport's most respected anglers, the ILSFA was launched on Memorial Day, 2006. Utilizing precise measurements of sharks taken by anglers, it was permanently established as the first and only organization to officially certify and maintain world-records for released sharks. The association would also become widely acknowledged for its role in sanctioned catch & release shark fishing tournaments, and the promotion of ethical angling practices that also contribute to scientific research and conservation efforts.

Now, as 2009 is winding down, I'm proud to say we've officially certified numerous world records for released shark species, received endorsements from, and worked with, the research community, notable personalities and members of the general public and the media. With that level of cooperation and awareness, I'm convinced we'll continue making powerful and lasting contributions that extend well beyond the realm of big game sport fishing.

My sincere thanks to everyone that's been involved from the very beginning, and to all others who have provided their support and participation along the way.

Cheers & Tight Lines,
Sean Paxton

The author on location in Florida, shooting an ILSFA sanctioned shark tournament

__________________________________________

'Shark Tagging and Documentation Field Guide for Land-Based Anglers and Researchers'
© Sean Paxton unless otherwise noted

EXTREME CAUTION AND CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED AT ALL TIMES
These scenes and accounts of interactions between humans, dangerous wild animals and outdoor environments were documented during professional research expeditions conducted by highly trained professionals with years of experience. This is intended for information and entertainment purposes only. It is not recommended that anyone attempt to duplicate. During any activity involved with this sport or related competition, the safety of the angler, team members, and all others present is of the utmost importance and should take precedence over any attempt to catch, handle or release any wild animal including sharks. Proper care and handling should also be exercised to avoid unnecessary stress or injury to any fish. The Int'l Land-Based Shark Fishing Assoc. (ILSFA), its officers, committee members, general members, and / or assigns assume no responsibility for risk of injury or death that might occur as a result of attempting to capture, handle or release any wild animal, anywhere, under any circumstances.

FOR TOURNAMENT ORGANIZERS AND ANGLERS:
Some of this information came as a direct result of collaborations with tournament directors who asked me to provide more detailed information about catch, tag & release documentation procedures for their events, and how those same procedures can be easily implemented by anglers interested in submitting their fish for an ILSFA World Record. Although, this piece details specific 'how-to' guidelines, I'm well aware many methods and techniques can be used effectively, and no 'one-size-fits-all' solution should ever be touted. This is no different. However, it's only after years of personal, hands-on experience, as well as input from other accomplished anglers and professional researchers at the top of their field that I'm confident in presenting this as the definitive guide to: safe (for angler and fish), effective handling, detailed documentation, tagging and release of sharks from land.

CATCH DOCUMENTATION AND WORLD RECORDS GUIDELINES:
During International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association (ILSFA) sanctioned or otherwise 100% catch & release events, competing anglers will already be taking most of the steps necessary for submitting a world record claim with the ILSFA. This document serves as a step-by-step guide for the key catch documentation procedures and world record submission guidelines. Although tagging is not required for a world record and may or may not be a tournament requisite, it is always highly encouraged. For this reason, proper tagging technique, research data card entry and the importance of both will be covered in great detail.

ILSFA MISSION STATEMENT:
To unify the sport and its anglers by establishing official standards for the compilation and recognition of world records, while also promoting -- through research, education and practice -- responsible enjoyment and stewardship of our marine and coastal resources..
________________________________________________

- Related Shark Research -
In an effort to take proactive and opportunistic steps in marine resource management, some competing or casual anglers may elect to also take part in an important joint-research effort with organizations such as, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Apex Predator Investigation (API) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP), or the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association. This makes the angler's role one of an important contributor to the knowledge and understanding of these animals, as well as their sustainability. For this reason, the thorough, safe gathering and accurate documentation of catch, tag and release data by participating anglers is of the utmost importance.

Actual example of completed and submitted data card

- Why Proper Tagging Practices Are Vitally Important -
Once gathered, accurate documentation on your tag data cards and their timely submission cannot be stressed enough. The absolute integrity of tagging programs and what they're intended for is literally in the hands of each and every participating volunteer angler. Tags are not transferable and are provided with a level of trust that each participant will maintain possession of tags until used before submitting related data to the Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP). The CSTP was initiated in 1962 with less than 100 volunteers, but as a participant today, you are part of an international group of over 6,500 volunteers distributed over the Atlantic and Gulf coast of North America and Europe. This number stresses even further, the importance of accurate and timely submissions. We've all heard the saying, 'Garbage in - Garbage Out'. This point should be driven home when considering the fact that this organization will be entering your data into an international database, while relying on your accuracy and timeliness.

Data from tagging programs, such as the NMFS CSTP, provide valuable information on migration and the extent of fish movements. The CSTP is also an important means to increase our biological understanding of sharks and to obtain information for rational resource management. The tagging of sharks (and other aquatic animals) provides information on stock identity, movements and migration (including rates and routes), abundance, age and growth (including verification/validation of age-determination methods), mortality, and behavior. You are encouraged to review more about the CTSP via the 'Research Links' section on LandBasedSharkFishing.com You will also find contact information to apply as a volunteer angler. This is the first step in receiving a tagging kit that includes tags, data cards, and a tagging needle (more details below).

I'm available to answer questions about data gathering, as well as the safe capture and release of sharks. Contact me via email: SeanPaxton@LandBasedSharkFishing.com

- 'The Pit Stop' or 5 Steps to a Successful Catch & Release Documentation -

Reality Check: During the best of times and with the tightest of teams, this 5-step process should take place within the confines of about 120 - 180 seconds. Less is better. More is a bore, and it's no good for the fish.

Anglers are encouraged to take steps in landing their fish as quickly as possible, and to maintain subdued fish in enough water (as little as a few inches) to aid in the support of their body weight during the required documentation procedure that includes the: assessment, tagging, measuring, photographing and releasing of all fish as quickly and safely as possible, prior to release. Whenever possible, avoid dragging an entire shark's body weight onto dry sand.

Subsequently, proper pre-release documentation for the purposes of World Record Submissions and / or some tournament requirements in the following order is recommended as a reliable rule of thumb.

Step One: Assessment / Hook & Leader Removal (optional)
Step Two: Research Tagging
Step Three: Measurements & Estimated Weight Calculation
Step Four: Photos
Step Five: Release

In the interests of practicing and promoting catch & release, large species fishing, healthy reintroductions to the wild of all animals is paramount; second only to personal safety. Experience and careful planning will aid in reducing stress on the animal, while helping to ensure healthy releases, and at the same time, ensuring human safety. My brother and I have found that when the entire team gets familiar with this specific and repeatable order of business, we avoid a lot of confusion when you really don't need it to begin with. To be successful, a lot has to happen in a very short period of time, in an environment where numerous uncontrollable elements are simultaneously in play.

The safety of all anglers and their teammates is their responsibility, and should be a primary consideration. Anglers are encouraged to have a team member or members to assist them whenever possible, and in accordance with applicable tournament or ILSFA rules. If at any time, you are unsure or don't feel comfortable with these procedures, cut your fish loose with as little leader and line material as safely possible.

PIT STOP - STEP ONE: Assessment / Hook & Leader Removal (optional)

Although optional for obvious safety reasons, a few recommendations can be followed to ensure reduced stress and release mortality rates. Never, under any circumstances, use your bare hands to remove a hook. Whether or not hook & leader removal is performed, use of the following options is encouraged:

1. Rod, Reel and other equipment that is more than up to the task at hand
2. Non-stainless steel hooks (whether or not circles are used)
3. Circle hooks
4. Single strand, non-stainless steel wire leader material
5. Breakaway, bio-degradable weights
6. De hooking tools, such as the 'ARC' big game model

With regard to number 1 above, heavier than you think you might need is a good measure. This is a different kind of 'game fishing' with less of an emphasis on prolonged, 'epic' battles. They do happen, but an experienced angler knows that every minute tight on a fish is just another chance for something to fail. All in all, too much is better than not enough when it comes to line strengths, reel drags and rock-solid rigging. No matter how you slice it, stronger gear can lessen fight times, along with the risk of losing a fish ... before or after landing it.

PIT STOP - STEP TWO: Research Tagging
Tagging needles and applicators similar to the one pictured below are the most appropriate for land-based shark fishing. Even if you've had some experience, it is hopeful that you'll take some time to review the tagging instructions below. They will aid greatly in enhancing your tagging activities, while increasing safety for anglers, teammates and the successful release of fish. Where noted, specific instructions, as provided by the staff of the Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP), are included.

Tagging needle and applicator loaded with a tag dart (photo copyrighted)

In more recent years, and since the launch of the ILSFA, virtually all Land-Based Shark Fishing Catch & Release Tournaments have adopted most, if not all of these steps into their rules, as related to qualifying points. Consequently, this document provides a major convenience for those interested in sharpening their skills beyond angling and into all aspects of the safe handling and release of fish, tagging, estimated size documentation, and the pursuit of certified, world records. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with this single document will aid greatly for anyone interested in one or all of these related topics.

Careful tag placement next to the dorsal fin at a slight angle, and NOT straight in, is a critical component of a proper tagging technique

Tagging Instructions (Very Important)
Taken from the NMFS Cooperative Shark Tagging Program Instruction Booklet and adapted for land-based shark fishing.

1) Study These Instructions Thoroughly
Please become familiar with tagging equipment and the information data card before they are actually needed.

2) Plan Tagging Activities In Advance
Have tagging equipment handy; know who is going to do what in the process of catching, tagging and releasing the shark, and who will concentrate on obtaining biological information for recording on the data cards.

3) Safety Is The Vital Element In Planning
Cut the leader rather than try to retrieve the hook. Even under the best conditions, every new interaction with a wild animal adds some new hazard. The most dangerous one in shark fishing can be an uninformed guest who is trying to help.

4) Capitalize On Your Experience
Tagging a shark, especially larger ones, is a team effort that requires practice. With an inexperienced crew, you should handle the tagging pole or the leader, not the rod. The angler has the least freedom of action at the most critical time. Tournament rules allow for the angler to hand off the rod at this point.

5) Set the Hook Before It Is Swallowed
The tagging program has never had a recapture from a gut hooked shark. Alertness for the strike is in important consideration and should be practiced at all times.

6) Do Not 'Over Fight' The Fish
Sharks fought to complete exhaustion are less likely to survive. However, the shark should be sufficiently played out to permit tagging without having to restrain it for too long.

7) Treat The Fish Gently
Sharks are highly susceptible to internal injury. Avoid gaffs and restraining devices and prevent the shark from thrashing on shore more than necessary. The larger sharks are least likely to survive rough treatment.

8) Look For Tags Already In Place
Remove the existing tag by simply cutting the trailing leader attached to the capsule and insert a new tag, if available. Record the old tag number BEFORE opening the capsule. Read the vinyl message and carefully report all recapture details to tournament officials.

9) Tag Only Sharks That You Can Identify
Become familiar with the species you are likely to encounter when and where you are fishing. Some species are difficult to tell apart, but it is important that you records are as accurate as you can make them. If you are not sure if the shark was, for example, a dusky or a sandbar, then note this on the card.

10) Take Time To Insert Tags Properly
Over-anxiousness is the major reason for poor placement of tags. Give the fish a few moments to settle down. VERY IMPORTANT: The dart head fits loosely into the slotted point in the needle, and the entire tag is HELD IN PLACE BY RUBBER BANDS 2" to 3" up on the applicator (see photo above). The dart head is curved so that the two rear points will face DOWNWARD into the muscle when the tag is inserted. Tags should be driven into the back near the first dorsal fin. The area lies to the side of the backbone and above the body cavity. The ideal location on large sharks is in the muscle at the very base of the first dorsal fin. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT THE CAPSULE ASSUMES A TRAILING POSITION on the shark. Insert the dart at an angle toward the head end of the fish (see photo above).

Large Sharks: The skin of a large shark is well known for its toughness, but by making a strong, quick, angular thrust, the dart should penetrate even large individuals. When the tag is correctly inserted, the dart head will come to rest approximately 1" to 1.5" beneath the skin. When fishing from shore, such as in this tournament, the tagging needle should be mounted in a short handled dowel. CARE MUST BE TAKEN TO AVOID INJURY TO THE BACKBONE. To control the depth of penetration of the dart head, an incision can be made with a pointed razor knife and the dart head then carefully forced into the muscle.

11) Avoid 'Snap Judgments' In Estimating Size Or Taking Measurements
The demand for physical action in the final moments when a shark is being tagged and /or measured can distract one's attention from pertinent details. Several people may assist in a release only to learn later that no one truly focused on the size or sex of the shark. Discuss measurements and sex before the shark is released.

12) Record Tagging Information Promptly And Completely
Please fill in the tagging data card immediately after tagging the fish.

PIT STOP - STEP THREE: Measurements & Estimated Weight Calculation
Refer to tournament rules for specific requirements. These steps will detail requirements for ILSFA World Record submissions.

Due to the wet, saltwater environment, cloth-style measuring tapes are recommended.

Three measurements must be taken on all fish being considered for an ILSFA World Record. Please refer to specific tournament rules for those requirements. This data will also be used in a formula to calculate an estimated weight used in the review and certification of world records for released sharks.

It is recommended to record each measurement as it's taken to avoid errors. Having a teammate help in this instance is beneficial. A thick pencil and a small sized pvc dive slate or similar writing surface is helpful in wet conditions. The required measurements are taken from the points noted below:

a) Total Length
Measure the total length in inches from the tip of the snout to the tip of the upper lobe of the caudal fin (tail). Tape should be laid flat over the entire length of the fish’s back just along the dorsal line and extended to the upper tip of the tail fin. Alternately, a visual line can be drawn for the total length measurement using the upper tip of the tail as reference, as shown in the diagram above.

Measuring the total length first, allows you to easily work down to the fork, then girth

b) Fork Length:
Measure the fork length in inches from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Tape should be laid flat over the entire length of the fish’s back just along the dorsal line and extended to the rear of the fork of the tail.

The fork, measurement will be used with the girth to calculate an estimated weight

c) Girth Measurement:
This is a defining measurement in calculating an estimated weight. Measure the largest diameter or thickest part of the fish in inches. The girth is just behind the pectoral fins extending around the shark in a straight line. The quickest and safest way to take this measurement is to keep your body near the midpoint of the animal's body. This keeps anglers and others away from the strike zone of a shark's mouth and/or tail. Place the tape under the fish with one hand while gently rolling the fish away from you with the other hand. Then simply walk around to the other side, gently roll the fish in the opposite direction to expose the end of your measuring tape. Take your girth measurement.

And finally, the girth. Working with others to assist is always recommended

Calculating Estimated Weight For Record Claims:

Estimated weight measurements should be taken as follows and must accompany any record application. All measurements must be recorded using an accurate, store bought measuring tape. The cloth type is recommended. All weights and measures are calculated in feet, inches, pounds and ounces.

W = Estimated Weight In Pounds
F = Fork Length In Inches
G = Girth In Inches

The Formula:
F x (G x G) / 800 = W

As an example to illustrate, a tiger shark with a fork length of 12’ and a girth of 72” is measured in this manner:

The Formula, Once Again:
F x (G x G) / 800 = W

Therefore:
144 x (72 x 72) / 800 =
144 x 5184 / 800 =
746,496 / 800 = 933.12 estimated pounds

Determining Sex:

Although not a qualifying point or World Record requirement, taking note of the sex of each fish is extremely valuable for research purposes and can be easily accomplished during the measurement procedure. Males will conspicuously display a set of two claspers protruding from the area near their anal fins. Females do not possess these organs.

These sexual reproductive organs would be conspicuously absent in females

PIT STOP - STEP FOUR: Photos
All fish pictured were tagged and released in good health after a short period out of the water required for documentation including tagging; typically less than 120 seconds.

If using digital photo or recording equipment, be sure to always have your date and time for your devices set accurately, since these factors may be used to determine point qualification in some cases. Anglers are all encouraged to submit their data online as soon as possible during the tournament to ensure accuracy and to assist the tournament staff in updating the official leader board. With regard to World Record submissions, proper photo documentation is imperative.

For accurate species identification, point evaluation, and record submissions, only the clearest possible photos must be submitted. In all cases, photographs should be taken of the fish lying on a flat surface. The fish should be broadside to the camera with the applied tag clearly visible (if applicable), and no other visible part of the fish obscured. Unless an angler is fishing solo (never recommended), photos should include the angler (behind the fish). Although, not required for record submissions, but whenever possible, additional photographs of the head and back taken from above are helpful including determining whether the fish has or does not have a ridge between the dorsal fins (inter-dorsal ridge).

Example of an overhead photo

It is important to submit only clear, publishable photographs of the fish (and the angler when not fishing solo). If additional photos or footage of the catch and release exist, they may also be submitted. Be sure to make copies of all photos and video submitted since they may not be returned. By submitting any materials, the provider grants the rights to distribute and/or publish said materials for promotional or commercial purposes in various media including, but not limited to the ILSFA Hall of Records, and other electronic, video, broadcast and print formats. Contact your tournament directors for information on their media policies.

Example of a broadside, flat lying shark with an applied tag, Note: This photo would also be acceptable for an ILSFA world record application

Anglers interested in submitting catches made during the tournament for official world records should become familiar with those requirements. Photos that must accompany all record applications include:

- The full length of the fish
- The angler with the fish
- Separate photos of tackle used in catch (including rod, reel, leader and hooks *)
- Any witnesses

* Regarding hooks, the ILSFA understands it is not always possible to remove hooks and that not every angler chooses to do so for personal, as well as for obvious safety reasons. In such cases where post-catch and/or release photos of hooks are not available, please describe hook configurations on the application form.

PIT STOP - STEP FIVE: Release

While every release is different depending upon species, size, environmental conditions, and level of experience, the following article still applies. For more details on releasing fish and reducing dry time to a minimum, I published this piece on the ILSFA's Research Links Section a few years ago:
'There Comes a Time to Love 'em & Leave 'em'

You can also view this episode segment video documenting an expedition we conducted where a record 22 blacktip and bull sharks were captured, fully documented, tagged and released over a period of 10 hours:
Adventure & Wildlife Episode Segment - Shark Tagging Research


No matter what, always remember that ...

EXTREME CAUTION AND CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED AT ALL TIMES
These scenes and accounts of interactions between humans, dangerous wild animals and outdoor environments were documented during professional research expeditions conducted by highly trained professionals with years of experience. This is intended for information and entertainment purposes only. It is not recommended that anyone attempt to duplicate.

During any activity involved with this sport or related competition, the safety of the angler, team members, and all others present is of the utmost importance and should take precedence over any attempt to catch, handle or release any wild animal including sharks. Proper care and handling should also be exercised to avoid unnecessary stress or injury to any fish. The Int'l Land-Based Shark Fishing Assoc. (ILSFA), its officers, committee members, general members, and / or assigns assume no responsibility for risk of injury or death that might occur as a result of attempting to capture, handle or release any wild animal, anywhere, under any circumstances.

- In Closing -

I'm available to answer questions about data gathering, as well as the safe capture and release of sharks. Please feel free to contact me directly.

Although comprehensive in nature, this is a guide. Those seriously interested are encouraged to also familiarize themselves with the following information.

- ILSFA Code of Ethics -
Adopted to foster responsible resource management, action & attitudes
Available online for viewing and reference

- ILSFA Angling Book of Rules -
Predicated on good sportsmanship and ethical angling
Available online for viewing and reference

- ILSFA World Record Application Form -
Designed as a condensed, user-friendly checklist
Available online for viewing or downloading

ILSFA MISSION STATEMENT:
To unify the sport and its anglers by establishing official standards for the compilation and recognition of world records, while also promoting -- through research, education and practice -- responsible enjoyment and stewardship of our marine and coastal resources..