Statistics are an important part of many sports, especially baseball. Numerically tracking every aspect of the game allows fans to predict wins and losses. Each baseball player could have as many as 100 statistics recorded.
There are so many stats tracked, statisticians have come up with abbreviations. RBI for Runs Batted In, AB for At Bat, BB is Base on Balls and so on. The numbers are used as a metric to measure successfulness, track variables and predict trends.
Statistics are kept in fishing too. The International Game Fish Association officially recognizes record fish based on fish weight and line class. Fisheries managers also track CPUE (Catch per Unit Effort) of recreational anglers for a body of water. The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pays attention to Total Fish and Largest Fish, but angler rankings are based on Total Weight during a timed period.
Recreational anglers try to quantify their success, too. In addition to quantity of fish, Southerners brag about the weight of their catch and Northerners compare lengths. I often hear Lake Erie steelhead anglers say something like, “I went seven for 10.” This means, out of 10 bites, lasting longer than a couple seconds, they caught seven steelies. In baseball, the ratio would equal a .700 batting average.
Continuing to borrow from baseball, I record other statistics in an attempt to make sense of the many variables at play on the water. Here are a few I track.
OBP: Many fish are lost right at the boat. Some tournaments allow competitors to use a net. Angler competing in other tournaments have a decision to make; swing the fish or reach down and grab it. Successful landings are On Boat Percentage.
AB: In billfish tournaments, touching the leader counts as a release. Saltwater anglers can record fish At Boat.
LOB: Left On Brush, or rock pile, or any significant, often well-known community fishing structure. This number measures the estimated quantity of uncooperative fish.
K: Total number of Kayaks on a body of water. Gauges fishing pressure.
A: Assists traditionally credits a fellow angler’s net skills. However, this figure can include a buddy who shares a hot lure with you, divides the last of the bait or shares a hot tip like, “Hey, cast over here, I just had a follow.”
PO: Successfully releasing a fish is recorded as a Put Out.
E: Errors can be any number of generally known mistakes such as fumbling the net, unsalvageable birds’ nests, casting into a tree, or forgetting my paddle at home.
SF: Loosing a lure is considered a Sacrificed Fly when the fishing improves immediately afterward. Many anglers believe losing a lure or fly is necessary for success. The sacrifice appeases the fishing gods.
PC: Stands for Pitch Count, but flipping, skipping, overhead and sidearm casts are counted in this column.
DP: A Double Play occurs when two anglers hook up at the same time. Or, when I hook two fish on one lure.
ROE: When I accidentally snag a fish, I call it a Reached On Error.
PO: The number of times a fish steals my bait or soft plastic. Pick Offs could reflect small fish or toothy pike and walleye.
W: Walks could be portages or the amount of time I spend fishing from shore.
Whiff: Completely missed hook sets.
RBI: Undersized fish are Runts Brought In.
TOB: Total Of Bass caught divided by total nontarget species.
GS: Catching a trophy fish across several species is called a Grand Slam.
ST: Strikes Thrown are my measure of topwater activity, regardless of landing efficiency.
PA: Tracks the notorious line-clipping, lure following musky or Pike Appearances.
I’m sure there are other stats that could fill a box score. As I flip through my fishing journal, I notice it is full of notes and numbers to predict my fishing success. As I look at the TOBs and LOBs, I remember my best and worst days on the water. Oh, here’s another one: FC. Well, let’s just say not every angler is pleased to see carp.
Featured illustration: Lorenzo Del Bianco