Telling Good Fish Stories

By Matt Jorn:

“What did you catch today?”

It’s a question asked at every marina, boat ramp and backyard dock in the world every day of the fishing calendar.

This is your chance to hold up your catch, your fillet bag or your digital camera. It is a chance to reveal (or conceal) details regarding where and how you snared your prey.

It is also the chance to spin a wonderful tale of the leviathan that you fought for hours, had right next to the boat, and locked eyes with only to have it spit the hook / break the leader / get caught on the props/ pull you overboard… we’ve all been there!

Even the master angler and author Ernest Hemingway’s beloved “The Old Man and the Sea” is a fish tale, featuring the angler we all wish we were losing the fish we all wish we could catch.

The craft of embellishing your catch is a time-honored tradition; however as the curator of the FishingNosara Costa Rica Fishing Report, I take umbrage with the 21st century version of the fish story.

For the last seven years, I have documented every one of the 2,000-plus trips run by the Nosara, Costa Rica based fishing team. Each report is meticulously checked for accuracy, including the angler’s names, trip date, fish caught, and (most importantly) photographs of the catches.

I also encourage my clients to offer their own stories from the fishing experience. In December 2017, we hosted Laura and Michael Price. Here’s what Laura wrote:

“My husband and I went out today on the Explorer. We had an AMAZING time!!! We ended the day with six mahi mahi caught with one mahi mahi, one tuna and one marlin getting away. Phenomenal crew! We loved every minute of it!”

Here is another example, this time from angler Kevin Bahr:

“We went with Capt. William and his mate Johnny. They were very professional and ready to ensure we had a successful outing on May 12. The weather was pretty sketchy, but we were able to locate the fish and ended up with a freezer full of ahi and mahi mahi. We cut our day short due to the weather, but our crew was willing to stay out longer if we wanted to. Despite the weather, it was a great day!”

Everyone knows that the Internet is a place where the line between fact and fiction is often blurry; from politics, to sports, to fishing—it is not always easy to separate the truth, from an opinion, from a sales pitch. For instance, a quick glance at a competing Central American fishing charter’s report looks like this:

  • Dec 27: 3 sailfish, 6 mahi-mahi, 1 marlin.
  • Dec 28: 7 sailfish, 2 marlin.
  • Dec 29: 5 mahi-mahi, 3 yellowfin tuna, 1 sailfish.

Who is this helping? Why no details, no photos? Is this for search engines, the illiterate, or the lazy?

I put it to all anglers in the 21st century posting online: Tell me a good fish story or log-off.

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