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Be Ready for That Special Fishing Photo Moment

Anglers should be prepared before landing that big catch

The fish doesn’t even have to be huge by state or lake record standards. It could be a personal best. Either way, it’s nice to record the moment with a good photo that can be e-mailed or shown to friends and family.

If you’d like a mount of the fish, your taxidermist will also appreciate a good photo likeness to help a replica mount look as realistic as possible. Always keep a camera in your boat or with your fishing gear, learn to use it properly and check the batteries regularly and keep them fresh.

Larry Hodge, information specialist for the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has photographed more than 120 ShareLunker entries and multiple record fish caught from Lake Zebco on the TFFC grounds. We asked him for some tips on photographing a big fish.

Q: What are the most common mistakes you see people making with trophy fish photos?

A: Not paying attention to the background so there is a telephone pole or something that seems to be coming out of the angler’s head. Another is when the angler and/or the fish are not in focus. A third common mistake is taking the photo from too far away. I want the subject to mostly fill the frame.

Q: What are some of the frustrations you deal with in photographing ShareLunkers?

A: No frustrations, really. The angler is always happy. He has caught the fish of a lifetime. Before I start taking photos, I tell the angler what is about to happen and what he or she needs to do. There are sometimes other anglers around who want to take their own pictures or want to pose with the angler and the fish, which drags out the process longer than is good for the fish.

Q: Do you have a maximum time to hold a ShareLunker out of the water for photos?

A: We try to be done in 30 seconds.

Q : On the average, how many photos do you shoot of a great fish?

A : Three - four if I remember to take one with my iPhone for immediate posting to the ShareLunker Facebook page. In the heat of the moment, I sometimes forget.

Q : If you have control of the background, what kind of background do you prefer?

A : Water or sky, or water and sky. Any background objects should be far enough away to be out of focus. In a boat, you can have the angler in one end and the photographer in the other. Use a zoom lens to crop the image in the viewfinder. If the angler is in the front of a bass boat, it’s usually easy to sit on the floor of the boat and get nothing but sky as a background. I ultimately have to work with what I’m given and we take the attitude that the welfare of the fish is always the first consideration. We will not subject the fish to unnecessary stress in order to get a better photograph. I’m forced sometimes to photograph a fish next to a minnow tank in the ugliest part of a bait shop. Our goal is to handle the fish as little as possible.

Q : What about flash, which most nonprofessionals seldom consider in bright light?

A : I always use fill flash. It lights up the fish, removes shadows from under hat brims and puts lights in the angler’s eyes. I always check the images on the digital camera screen to be sure I got a good one.