Is it a Record?

How to find out and what to do next

“Wow, that’s a nice fish!  I wonder what the record is?”  These words have probably been uttered hundreds, if not thousands of times throughout the years.  Usually it’s said in passing as the fish flops around on the deck, or in the net.  In bowfishing, the fish gets placed in a bucket with a bunch of other fish if the shooters are having a good night.  The scale is usually out of sight because records are not always on the captain’s mind.  When the fish gets weighed, if it ever does, then it’s usually the next day after the fish has lost significant weight.

To make that research easier I have created a website that tracks State, Youth and World records.  The information is clearly articulated, with the fish species lined up in alphabetical order and since I maintain the BAA records site as well you can feel confident that the records are up to date.  I’ve even added records that are maintained by local clubs and state fish and wildlife agencies (where applicable).  If you spend a few minutes reviewing what I’ve put together you should see some glaring opportunities across the US to make your own mark on the sport, especially if you have a young shooter in your family.


As the records keeper for the BAA I see how unprepared people often are to get their fish records certified.  The information gets sent to me in a piecemeal fashion, often requiring a reply asking for missing information, or to take additional steps to qualify for the record.  I’m sure there’s been a few that have cursed my name and a few others that are disappointed when their record can’t stand based on the information provided.  Let me give you a rundown on what it takes to get through the red tape for a BAA World, State or Youth Record.

  • Take your fish to a certified scale – this is the best way to guarantee acceptance of the weight.  Take a picture, or video, of the fish on the scale with the weight clearly showing and if necessary take multiple pictures.  Lastly, take a picture of the certification sticker on the scale.  It should be current and if not, please seek out one that is.
  • Use the approved scale that the BAA recommends – before I took over records management there was a decision made to allow a non-certified scale to be used as long as a specific weighing sequence was followed.  The sequence required the use of a 2.5 lb. weight to be hung from the scale prior to the fish.  The weight shows that the scale is in the ballpark.  This whole process should be caught on video and I have produced a video that clearly shows the entire process.

Here’s a link to the video

Here’s where to buy the scale and the weight

  • Take a Hero Picture with the Fish – find someone to take your picture where you are holding the fish either vertically or horizontally and the whole fish, your face and anything else you want in the picture is visible (bow, logo, etc.)  Use a flash, or wait until the next day to get a good photo.  The BAA will share your success and a great picture really highlights your accomplishment.  If I do not receive your picture I will recognize your record, as long as the rest of the steps are followed, but we will not post anything to social media.
  • Become a Member – the BAA offers two options for membership, a free membership and a paid membership.   You must choose one of the options before a record will be certified.  This applies to both Adult and Youth shooters and each membership is based on the individual.  We do not currently have a family membership and memberships are non-transferable.
    •  Free memberships qualify you to receive notifications and newsletters from the BAA and to attend the annual meeting with voting privileges.   Fish record certifications are not included with this membership and there is currently a $5.00 registration fee per fish.  Why you may ask?  Well, the BAA has goals and aspirations to help the sport through promoting/fighting legislation that increases/inhibits our ability to bowfish.  We also have expenses tied to a number of administrative and strategic relationships, like website maintenance and partnerships with strong groups like the Sportsman’s Alliance who help when we have a legislative battle to fight.  For many years the BAA has operated on a shoestring budget and we know that there is more that we can do if we have the funding.  We know that our members want us to be there for them when the time comes, however many of them would never contribute a penny otherwise.  The record certification fee helps to make a commitment to the BAA.  We have a link in our store to pay the fee through PayPal.
    • Paid Memberships were reinstituted in 2018.  For $40.00 the member was granted a number of benefits, like free voting for the World’s location in 2019 and a membership t-shirt.  Paid memberships also include fish registration fees and this was definitely a benefit to a few members who set more than a couple of records in 2018.

Here’s the link to join the BAA

Here’s the link to pay for fish registration

  • Upload your video to YouTube – most videos are too large to share through email and we ask that you create a free YouTube account and send us the link to the video.  This is handy for us to share in the event that there is a dispute related to the fish.
  • Send in your certification email – on top of everything else, we need to know who you are so that we can verify your membership status.  Here’s what we need in the email:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Date the fish was taken
    • Weight of the fish – confirmed by the video submission, or pic on the certified scale
    • Length of the fish – with picture laid next to a tape measure – tip of the nose to tip of the tail
    • For youth shooters – age of the shooter (needs to be under 18 years when the fish was taken
  • Verify what species of fish you have – the number one thing that will disqualify your fish from being a new record is if you don’t know what species of fish you have.  There are a number of key characteristics that help to identify fish and those are usually related to the mouth and fins.  Take some time to verify which species you actually have before submitting it.  If I receive poor pictures of the fish, without the ability to check for certain features to validate the species, the record could be rejected.  I will be adding posts to this site on a regular basis to help define certain species that are easily confused.

Bowfishing records have been maintained since the inception of the BAA, but with the growth of the sport more and more people are taking pride in their catches and submitting for records.  In 2018, there were nearly 400 new records certified and I expect that number to continue to grow.

Future posts on this blog will highlight some of these records, including trophy fish that have been taken and records that remain unclaimed.  I will also strive to educate through posts about fish species variations, what to look for and where are the best places to look for a record.  Stay tuned for more and good luck with your next Obscure Adventure!

More info on the official BAA Records Page