So, I was talking to a fishing buddy about a very dubious striper picture posted on Facebook. The guy claimed the fish was 48 pounds, but it was nowhere near that weight.
You can’t hold a fish of that size like he was holding it, especially since he was no weightlifter. No wonder ordinary folks call all fishermen liars. Integrity is a perishable item that seems to be stretched more every day by anglers via the internet. This increased environment of suspicion isn’t healthy.
Yes, I appreciate the fact that catching a big fish is a thrill, but some guys just get carried away. Fudging a little is OK, but knowingly padding the size beyond reason to impress followers does two things: First it sends the message that you can claim a fish is as big as you want and who’s to say different? Now it’s open season as to how far you can stretch credibility without just plain old lying. Secondly, it denigrates the real catches of honest anglers. “Yeah, I caught a 12-pound largemouth, just like yours!” That’s what I heard a wannabe angler tell a respected one recently. Everyone knew this fish was about 7 pounds, but it was proclaimed a “12-pounder” on Facebook.
I know many are often just looking for respect, but they’ll never get it from peers that way. Still, they try and the internet offers access to a publicity mechanism that’s hard to stop once underway. “Hey, didn’t you catch that monster?” is what they troll for. A shortcut to recognition and applause. The post takes on a life of its own.
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I’ve found stripers and other big fish are particularly easy for anglers to tout way beyond their real size. There are several reasons. For one, few anglers are really used to seeing a truly huge striper, and it’s easy for them or viewers to overestimate a decent-size fish. It’s easy to get fooled until you get out the tape and scale – and absent those tools, this is where the dirty “guesstimates” come in.
A “guesstimate” can sometimes happen because the angler doesn’t want to actually scale the fish and learn the truth. Estimating makes for a better story. A quick release after a good picture leaves an open option to opine and allow partners to pipe in, too. “Wasn’t that fish about 45 pounds? Heck, yeah – maybe more!” So now a nice 32-pound striper is pushed off as a massive 45-pounder. I’ve had many calls from guys claiming that they or someone they knew had caught a record striper at Millerton. It always turns out to be a fish in the low 30s. They look huge, but the truth comes out that they never weighed it until later.
There are all kinds of tricks anglers play on the internet, such as not posting catches till weeks later, using old pictures from a different locale, editing to make fish look monstrous, and in the worst extremes stooping to Photoshop.
So many guys are doing it that the art of checking out a fish picture against its claims has become an art. This has led to accusations that are sometimes true, but also often unfounded. Suspicion is tough to counteract once you think someone is lying. Fishing-related internet trolls have popped up all over. They take it upon themselves to challenge any post and usually are interested more in their hunches than they are in the truth. If we had more integrity in the postings to begin with, maybe this would slow down. Instead, the good anglers get nitpicked to death.
This toxic environment of suspicion has made it tough to post honest catches without drawing some real skepticism. It’s a bane to our sport. Do your best, anyway, and tell the truth. It’s always the best defense.
Never give up!