My fishing buddy Bob swears he doesn’t lie any more than he absolutely has to.
That makes him pretty honest. Well, for a fisherman.
When it comes to whoppers, Bob may not catch a lot of them but he sure tells a lot of them.
It’s not that he tells a complete untruth, understand, it’s just that he enhances the facts a smidgen. Five little crappie have a tendency to turn into a dozen big slabs. A stringer of small bream somehow morphs into a batch of big bluegill.
On one recent trip a two-pound bass doubled in weight on the way back to the dock. It added another pound on the drive home. By the time Bob told the story the next day it was a six-pounder. With a few more tellings it would have become a new world record.
I’ve heard him describe how he enticed a wily three-pound rainbow to inhale a dry fly – the same 10-inch hatchery trout I saw him snag on a wad of worms.
There’s nothing wrong with fish-fudging. Most of us do it. In fact, there’s an Angler’s Math that takes into account such exaggerations. When a fisherman says he caught a certain number of fish, divide the number in half, subtract a third of that, and what’s left will be a fairly accurate figure.
And whatever he claims was the weight of a big fish, automatically deduct 20% off the top and another 10% just for good measure. The actual weight still won’t be as much as the fisherman claimed, of course, but at least you’ll be in the ballpark.
The way my buddy Bob looks at it, he’s doing his listeners a favor. Who wants to hear a boring story about someone catching a runty little one-pound bass? Nobody. But ears perk up if the bass weighed eight pounds and became snagged in a submerged treetop writhing with ferocious cottonmouths.
The audience gasps when Bob relates how he shouted for Carman Electra to interrupt her sun-bathing, put on her bikini top, and hold the rod while he swam out and untangled the line. Then, fighting off attacking cottonmouths with both hands, he hauled the giant bass back to the boat in his teeth.
Now THERE’S a fish tale worth hearing.
Sometimes a fisherman doesn’t fib for effect; there’s a method to his measuring. There are minimum-length limits for most species of game fish – 10 inches for crappie, 18 inches for bass on certain lakes, etc. – and a fisherman who wants to bring home a few for supper must make sure they meet the legal length.
It’s intriguing to watch a fisherman try to stretch a 9 -inch crappie into a 10-incher. The technique looks like something out of the Spanish Inquisition.
When it comes to a fish’s weight, there’s a simple way to verify it – put it on a scales. But only a novice angler would fall for such a trick. The last thing you’ll find in the boat of a veteran fisherman is a fish scales. Well, normally.
I heard about one fisherman who kept his own private scales at his home on which he weighed his prize catches. He was constantly boasting about the 15-pounders and even 20-pounders that he caught. There was no disputing how big the fish were -- their weight was verified by his scales.
His fishing buddies were extremely impressed by his big catches, and also by the birth of his baby daughter. The newborn bambino weighed -- according to her pop’s fish scales – a tad over 39 pounds.