Rules for Specimen Fish Claimants

Rules for Specimen Fish Claimants

Before you make a claim, please read the following

RULE 1: Irish Specimen Fish Committee
RULE 2: Fair Angling
RULE 3: Weighing
RULE 4: Identification
RULE 5: Limitation on number of claims
RULE 6: Sending Fish to the Committee
RULE 7: Awards


Rule 1:

Irish Specimen Fish Committee

This Committee consists of representatives of the Irish Angling Federations and the Government Departments and official organisations interested in angling. Its objective is to verify, record and publicise the capture of large fish on rod and line in Irish waters. A list of Specimen Fish is published annually by the Committee. Only fish which can be fully vouched for as to weight and species can be accepted and listed by the Committee. Except in exceptional circumstances claims will remain valid for a period of one year following the year of capture.

Rule 2:

Fair Angling

“Fair Angling” means any legitimate method of angling with rod and reel which is recognised as a fair and sporting method. A fish must be hooked in or in the immediate vicinity of the mouth when it has taken the bait or lure; fish which have been foul-hooked, even accidentally, are not eligible. A fish in respect of which a claim is made must be hooked, played and brought to gaff or net by the angler UNAIDED, though the fish may be gaffed or netted by another, and it is permissible for the person using the gaff to take hold of the trace or doubled line (in the case of big game fishing) to steady the fish when it has been played out and brought within reach. If a fixed rod holder is in use while boat fishing, and a fish strikes, the rod must be removed from the holder as quickly as possible. This is to ensure that the angler hooks and plays the fish with rod in hand. Where a fighting chair is employed, it must not have any mechanically driven device which aids the angler in playing a fish. Body harnesses (which attach the rod to the body) are permissible but must not be fixed to the chair. Gimbals must be free swinging including those which move in the vertical plane. Gimbals which permit the angler to rest or reduce strain while playing a fish are prohibited. Breakage of rod, reel or line, or alteration or substitution of tackle, while a fish is being played, disqualify it for claim or record purposes. A fish may not be shot, lanced, clubbed or harpooned before landing. Claims for fish caught during the statutory close season for the species (where this applies) cannot be accepted.

Rule 3:


Fish must be weighed in the presence of independent, reliable witnesses on a properly certified scales, e.g., a shop scales or an official club scales which is covered by a certificate from the local Weights and Measures Officer (eg. NML). Claims cannot be accepted in respect of fish weighed on uncertified scales, e.g., anglers spring balances or in respect of fish weighed on scales inappropriate to the size of the fish, e.g., fish in the 1 to 3 kg range weighed on balances weighing up to 50 kg or over and graduated in large divisions. Best guidance regarding minimum weights recommends that fish being weighed should exceed 20 times the scales weighing interval (eg. 20 x 20g = 400g). Where weights are in large divisions (e.g. 0.25kg divisions) the weight of a fish must be rounded DOWN to the nearest actual division. Claims cannot be accepted in the case of fish which has been weighed on board a boat unless weighted on a certified motion – compensated balance.

Please note: All club and personal scales MUST be certified annually by an independent agency. Weighing scales must be covered by a Certificate of Accuracy at the time of weighing. They cannot be certified in retrospect, i.e. after the fish has been weighed.

Rule 4:


The identification of a fish must be fully documented where there is a possibility of its confusion with any other (and particularly larger) species. For this reason, the Committee in respect of some species insists on scales from the fish; close up photographs or the actual body as actual proof of identification before it will consider claims.

Fish Scales:

FISH SCALES must be submitted in respect of claims for SALMON, SEA TROUT, BROWN TROUT (including SLOB TROUT) RUDD, ROACH, and their hybrids, DACE and SHAD. Any brown trout taken in tidal waters, i.e., in the sea or in an estuary below the freshwater boundary as defined for that river will be regarded for claim purposes as a slob trout. About 10 scales gently removed from one shoulder of the fish should be sent with each salmonid claim. 3 Scales required from each cyprinid.

The Actual Body:


NB – Claims may be ratified where a photograph is of sufficient quality to provide conclusive evidence (i.e. key identification features clearly visible) to identify a fish, to the satisfaction of the Committee.

Clear, Sharp, Close-up Photographs:

CLEAR, SHARP, CLOSE-UP PHOTOGRAPHS, showing the entire fish with its fins and other features easily seen, and not fore-shortened or obscured by shadows or bystanders must be provided in the case of ALL CYPRINIDS, TOPE, SHARKS, SMOOTH-HOUND, SKATE, RAYS, BLUEMOUTH, MONKFISH, POLLACK, BALLAN WRASSE, TRIGGERFISH, COALFISH, ALBACORE, TUB GURNARD (pectoral fins of gurnard must be fully expanded), GILTHEAD BREAM (whole body and head shot showing mouth and eyes) and BLACKMOUTHED DOGFISH.

Record Fish:

RECORD FISH – Claim must be supported by a series of clear photographs showing relevant features for positive identification and a clear indication of fish length (perferably a ruler/fish measurement mat). Records will be weight based only.

In the case of skates and rays, photographs of both back and belly surfaces should be provided and particulars of the coloration given (with particular reference to the presence of dark or grey spots, or streaks or patches on the belly side). Detailed photographs of the teeth should be furnished in the case of Mako Sharks. In addition, there should be a clear close-up photograph showing the jaws and teeth exposed.

Rule 5:

Limitation on Number of Claims

A maximum of three (3) awards will be made to any particular claimant for a single species in any one year. However, provision will be made that when an angler achieves this target and subsequently captures larger fish, these will be taken into account but the final number of awards for any species in a single year will not be more than three awards. By including this latter provision, it will ensure that the anglers competitive spirit is kept up and higher achievements could still be sought.

Rule 6:

Sending Fish to the Committee

We advise all anglers to follow these steps when sending a fish to the Irish Specimen Fish Committee to ensure that your claim is processed

  1. Notify the Committee when a fish is being sent in for identification. Make specific arrangements (by telephone) with the Committee if bringing live fish for identification. (Telephone: +353 (0)1 8842600; Fax: +353 (0)1 8360060; Email:
  2. Do not forward fish before Bank Holidays or weekends; (keep in a cold store if fish cannot be delivered quickly on or before Friday afternoon).
  3. Please attach a label to each fish forwarded for identification giving the captor’s name and address, date and place of capture and the weight of the fish.
  4. Fish should NOT be sent in polythene bags or wrapped in aluminium foil as this causes very rapid decomposition.They should be wrapped in greaseproof paper and then in newspaper and brown paper.

Rule 7:


Anglers whose claims have been accepted by the Committee will be awarded special “Merit Badges” in the case of Specimen Fish, and Silver Medals in the case of Record Fish. Specimen Fish Certificates will also be issued in respect of all ratified claims. Only one merit badge will be awarded to any angler per annum even where multiple claims are received. Specially commissioned awards are made to anglers for cumulative specimen fish captures of 20 species, 10 species, 50 specimens or 10 specimens. Other special awards are the Dr. Micheal Kennedy Award (Mullet of the year), the Dr. Arthur Went Award (Young Specimen Angler of the Year), the Minister’s Award (Fish of a Lifetime) and the Failte Ireland’s Best International Specimen Fish Award (for the best overseas angler specimen).

Completed Claim Forms

Completed claim forms should be send to the address below before 15th of November each year. Scales from shad and cyprinids must be received before 15th of October.

For Freshwater and Marine fish taken in the Rep. of Ireland

Name:Irish Specimen Fish Committee
Address:c/o Inland Fisheries Ireland,
3044 Lake Drive,
Citywest Business Campus,
Dublin 24,
Tel:+353 (0)1 884 2600


For marine fish taken in Northern Ireland please contact:

Name:Dr. Stephen Beggs
Address: AFBINI,
Newforge Lane,
Belfast BT9 5PX.
Tel:+44 (0) 28 90 9025 5503


For freshwater fish taken in Northern Ireland please contact:

Name:Dr. Robert Rosell
Newforge Lane,
Belfast BT9 5PX.
Tel:+44 (0) 28 9025 5236
Fax:+44 (0) 28 9025 5004


Deadline dates:

Shad and Cyprinid Hybrids

Scales from shad and cyprinid hybrids for genetic analysis must be forwarded to Irish Specimen Fish Committee before 15th October each year.

All other claims

All other claims should be forwarded to the Irish Speciment Fish Committee before 15th November each year. Where required for identification purposes (see Rule 4), fish should be sent to the same address.

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