It’s happened to me many times in the past year or so. First, I feel my phone buzz and then I see there’s a text with a picture waiting for me. When this happens, I can’t say I’m always thrilled because some of the pictures are of big fish — subtlety telling me I should have been there!
Other times, the picture starts an intense hunt for the truth, especially when the photo deliberately doesn’t have much of a helpful caption, perhaps little more than “A Big One!” Yeah, real big, but how big? This was, of course, the very reason the picture was sent in the first place — to drive you crazy!
The age of new photographic technology, especially the cell phone and GoPro, has created a whole new way of taunting and tantalizing other fishing friends or competitors with pictures of normal fish that sometimes can look like monsters. And this is just the tip of the iceberg on how the game is played by many anglers who these days are increasingly tech savvy.
First of all, most guys are going to try to get as complimentary of a photo of the fish as possible to send to all their friends. So, all the usual tricks of holding the fish way out, hiding your fingers or getting way up on the fish are just in the first wave of effective strategies to promote a catch. Getting it on Facebook as quickly as possible, so that a lot of nonfishing folks see the inflated view of the fish, also helps to establish an otherwise dubious posted public weight that unknowing followers will believe and pass on!
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The next level of deception … errr, I mean upmanship! … is the way that good anglers produce their pictures. Here are a few of the rules. If possible, you never take a picture of a big fish with the actual lure in its mouth. This gives away a lot of information to other discerning anglers such as color patterns, possible depths, lure actions that work, size of plug and even where you may be fishing! If it was impossible to take a picture of the fish without the actual lure in its mouth, I’ve seen guys wait a week to release the photo. By then, that pattern is no longer working and they don’t care if others are using it now! In fact, they may promote this already useless lure to throw other guys off the track. Of course, there aren’t any guys out there who would replace the real lure with some other nonproductive lure and then take a “harmless” picture that it is then broadcast all over the planet!
A good picture also avoids showing background or structure to more closely identify where the catch occurred, just so others can’t figure out where you might have been. Many motivated anglers can take a very little bit of information, checking out the skyline, water clarity, shoreline, etc., and put the puzzle together better than you might think. Some guys go so far as to use a blackout technique, blotting out everything except the angler and his fish.
I’ve seen some anglers send a picture of a good catch (with no stated weight) to another angler, who they will then call and ask if they got it. Of course he did, but the sender now asks the other angler how big he thinks the fish really is. When the recipient tells him it must have been at least 20 pounds, the angler tells him he’s very close: “Yep Jim , it was right at 20!,” even though he knows the fish only went 15. It’s now officially vouched for as 20 pounds!
Another new phenomenon I see is regular anglers with camera mounts all over their boat. I’ve watched the YouTube creations these anglers generate, and my guess is that by the time these guys get off the water they already have produced and posted a full-length video, with voiceovers and a music track.
With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever for anglers to fudge their fish pictures and stats. I guess all they wanted was to get a few more likes on Facebook and to go viral! Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,