The Art of Tall Tails (Tales)

By T. Allen Wyatt
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]re fishermen, by birthright, a group of liars, exaggerators, and story tellers of tall tales? In general yes, but there are several variations. One is to make the day sound better than it actually was. The garden-variety fisherman will carefully embellish half truths, exaggerating either the quality or the size of a fish they actually caught. Of course, fishermen are rarely caught in one of these Tall Tales, as most are as skilled as lawyers with the truth. Then there is the basic liar who pumps up the number of fish caught on an outing. Usually, the figure of “a hundred,” is thrown around. For example, there is the “hundred-fish-day.” This is used when referring to smaller trout, bluegill, or that far off destination that cannot easily be verified. When I fish in the same place, a four or five fish day is the norm. This is because the “wind wasn’t right,” or “it had been cold all week,” or…maybe the four fish that I had hooked finally got smart after being caught twenty five times each by Mr. Hundred-A-Day liar. Now, I know that when bluegill or crappies are on the bed, you CAN catch 50 fish. Catch some, but not all. Please don’t completely spoil their once a year orgy!  Keep a dozen, and then lie and say you caught 25, but gave some to the fella down the road. Just make sure to frame the quantity. You see, a 25-fish-day is still a respectable number by any standard, but a 25-fish-morning is better or how about a 25-fish-just-after-sunrise morning. Now you are getting into professional guide status.
A close friend of mine, whom I’ve known for over a decade, has a talk radio fishing show. By the nature of the show, we know that there will be Tall Tales tossed around, and we are listening to the show because we enjoy the quality of the embellishments.  He is so natural at it, that he can even lead the guest into great embellishment.  This usually starts with:
Where have you been fishing lately? This is a set up for a location stretcher, meaning he wants to hear some exotic location. “I went to Cockroach Bay on Wednesday.” Well, this is decent but not exotic, so the host pushes the point a little harder. “Did you go to your ultra low tide spot?” And I respond, “I went in the kayak that I had just finished rigging myself.” (Now that was good framing.)  So he steers back to fishing with, “Did you catch any of those big snook that I’ve been hearing about?” I respond, No, but I caught several nice trout. This is not as glamorous as snook, but he will fix this with some professional framing. “Any size to ‘em?” I say, “Several above the slot, so I released them all, no keepers.”  This is classic, released them all because they were too big, and note the use of ‘several.’  This is any number between 2 and 99 (but not ‘a hundred’.)  Of course, there should be photographic evidence, but fishing photos are another art form, and qualify for their own article.