How to claim a record fish

How to claim a record fish

If you’ve ever wondered how the biggest fish in Britain are officially confirmed, or you’ve been lucky enough to catch a record carp yourself, then here’s how things should unfold.

Filing a record claim

The current British record carp – Dean Fletcher’s capture of the Parrot at 68lb 1oz in January 2016 – took five months to ratify.

During that time the fish was caught a further three times.

Dean told Angling Times at the time the wait was “absolute rubbish”.

So why did it take so long?

Dean Fletcher's British-record carp at 68lb 1oz

Dean Fletcher's British-record carp at 68lb 1oz


  • January 13, 2016: Dean Fletcher catches the Parrot from Berkshire’s Wasing Estate. It weighs 68lb 1oz, according to fishery scales.
  • January 25: Cambridgeshire County Council Trading Standards tests the scales using internationally recognised weights. They are found to be accurate.
  • February 3: A copy of the Trading Standards certificate verifying the scales’ accuracy is received by the British Record Fish Committee.
  • February 4: The BRFC accepts the tests carried out on the scales and the process of official verification begins.
  • June 7: The BRFC committee meets to verify its latest batch of claims, including the carp record.
  • June 18: Dean Fletcher receives a certificate confirming his new, official, record.

Getting your scales checked

The scales used to weigh a record fish must be tested by a local council’s weights and measures department.

The number of councils offering this service has dwindled massively in recent years and you will have to pay around £70 for the pleasure.

As stipulated in the Weights and Measures Act of 1985, a trading standards team will test the scales in a room set to 20ºC and 50 per cent humidity.

The scales will be tested against metric brass weights that can trace their exact weight back to the International Prototype Kilogram, which is housed in a vault outside Paris.

Cambridgeshire County Council tested Dean Fletcher’s scales (which were spot on). Tester Paul Street stated that when it comes to fishing scales the first reading is often the most accurate.

Dean Fletcher's scales being tested

Dean Fletcher's scales being tested

If you weigh a fish multiple times, the warming up of the scales’ mechanism can produce inaccurate results, he said.

“Electronic scales are usually quite good for accuracy unless they have been mistreated or damaged,” added Paul.

Paul Street from Cambs County Council

Paul Street from Cambs County Council

How a claim is officially recognised

The British Record Fish Committee is staffed by volunteers from all over the country.

In the case of a claim for a new carp record, the freshwater sub-committee communicates via email and will generally approve a provisional record within a week or two.

However, the full BRFC committee only meets in person twice a year to rubber-stamp new records, hence the delay in Dean Fletcher’s case.    

BRFC chairman Mike Heylin told Angling Times at the time: “We understand how frustrating it is.

“If I could find another way of doing it I would bite the hand off the person who offered it.

“We are getting it [the claim process] to where we want it to be, with a provisional record accepted within two or three weeks.”


  • The weighing of any potential record fish should be witnessed by at least two other people, but if the angler is alone the BRFC will accept a written affidavit (legal oath).
  • Good-quality photos should show the fish lying next to an identifiable object and with the angler holding the fish in the normal manner, or, in the case of a very large fish, beside it.
  • Your scales must weigh in appropriate divisions (generally ounces for larger coarse fish) and be fully calibrated after the capture by a weights and measures team.    
  • Full details at