How big do you think this bass is? Ten pounds? Seven? Twelve? A unique study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) along with partner, Bass Pro Shops, recently revealed that guessing right is harder than you think — whether you are an experienced bass angler, fishing guide or even a bona fide fisheries biologist. The Eyeball Challenge arose from FWC’s TrophyCatch program, which collects data from anglers on bass eight pounds or larger for use in fisheries management and conservation. The core requirement for submission is a photo or video of the entire bass on a scale with the weight reading clearly visible. And, every trophy bass must be released.

“Given the very specific submission requirements, I’m still a bit mystified whenever I get the ‘That bass isn’t 10 pounds!’ comment on one of our posts,” said biologist and TrophyCatch Facebook Manager, John Cimbaro. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from looking at thousands of bass photos, it’s that the same fish can look very different depending on how the picture is taken and how the fish is held. A hero shot of an angler holding a trophy bass up is usually the best-looking photo for a Facebook post. But the fish-on-scale photo is the one that matters for the research program and that’s the photo l point a doubting commenter to.”

The Eyeball Challenge asked anglers to estimate the weights of bass in three separate challenges, each with a series of photos. Each bass was weighed by a biologist with field scales to ensure accuracy. The Eyeball Challenge culminated in August with Round 3, which featured 24 individual Florida bass. Nearly 900 anglers completed the final round, and the results were quite revealing: on average, anglers were off by plus or minus 2.22 pounds per bass.

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