Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Truth and Tape Measures


Looking back over some of my previous posts, I am struck by just how improbable many of my stories must seem. I live in a quiet corner of upstate New York, only thirty odd minutes from the capitol city of Albany. I'm about two or three hours north of New York City. Many fly flingers in this area spend thousands of dollars and their entire lives chasing a twenty-inch trout, and I'm sure that many readers come to one of two conclusions when reading my posts.

1) This guy is full of some serious shiznizzle (props to Snoop Dog for giving us such a wonderful euphemism). There aren't that many twenty-inch trout in the Albany area.

2) This guy thinks he's telling the truth, but clearly he does not carry a tape measure. If he does carry a tape, then perhaps he's confused standard and metric measurements, and is actually recoding the size of his catch in centimeters. I bet he's French Canadian.

I've tallied the fish Ben, Adam and I have taken this year, which measured (notice my choice of verb here) over twenty inches. At twelve, the total is actually rather remarkable. What may be even more remarkable is that as a group, we measure every trout we catch, which we think may top 18 inches. I mention all of this not for the sake of blowing smoke and singing my own praises, but rather to discuss the apparent paradox of being honest and a fisherman. Why do some fishermen (again diction here is important) feel the need to exaggerate the size of their catch? I see two possibilities.

1) Fishermen who lie have tiny genitals and they're compensating. Streamlined and torpedo-like as fish are, they're really just waterborne phalluses, and fishermen always seem to be chasing a bigger piscatorial penis. Caught a twelve incher, and you want a fourteen. Fourteen and you want sixteen. Sixteen and you want twenty. Look at the cover of nearly any fly fishing periodical, and you'll see a euphoric fisherman, grasping his catch with both hands, and holding it aloft in such a way as to say, "Look everybody, I got a big one!" Maybe these fellas have seen too many Extenze commercials (It's hard to believe that a simple capsule could make a man larger). Who knows? Conversely, those gentlemen who carry tape measures might do so as a means of crystallizing proof that they're ... umm ... blessed.

2) Competition. The river is a great equalizer. She doesn't care if you're short or tall, skinny or fat, young or old. The river pays no mind to the kind of car you drive or the size of the house in which you live. How intimidating must it be to face one's shortcomings head-on? One cannot compensate for a poor backcast with fleet feet, a beautiful smile or a biting wit. Six-pack abs, enormous breasts or rock-hard glutes do little to improve the form of your double-haul or the effectiveness of your flies (although the caster's appearance can make flyflinging more of a spectator sport ... go about 3:15 into this video to see what I mean). In the final analysis, the measure of an angler is strictly his or her skill, and the most tangible fruit of one's skill is a large, wary fish. I think we're dealing with some primal need to be the alpha-dog. It's almost Freudian, which of course brings us back to number one.

Of course, it might just be that I'm full of it. Yep. That's it. I'm completely full of it. Just don't bother to ask where I fish. I'd hate to have to lie.








1 comment:

Colorado Angler said...

HA! Great post!

They didn't get that large by making poor decisions - and since I know I'm not smarter than a 5th grader, I take it out on the fish, instead. It strokes my ego to know I can still outsmart em (sometimes). So my reasons are purely selfish and have absolutely nothing to do with lack of equipment in other areas.....

I'll shut up now.