- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

I’ve caught blue crabs in the Wye River that weighed 2 pounds apiece,” an excited chicken necker once told me. I had mentioned that, whenever my family wanted to feast on crabs, a baited, 1,000-foot-long trot line was our preference for catching the blue-clawed delicacies.

“If they grow that big in the Wye,” I said, “I’d better stay away from there because I don’t believe my baskets are strong enough to hold those monsters.”

The blowhard never caught on that I was pulling his leg, although he should not have told tall tales to a fellow who catches Maryland crabs that might weigh 8 ounces.

Oh, the things anglers, hunters - even crabbers - say without knowing to whom they’re speaking. After all, a fellow whose job consists of a lot of fishing, hunting, crabbing and other outdoors activities should know a thing or two about the subjects he’ll eventually write about, right?

Several days ago, two fellows stood waist-deep in Charles County’s Wicomico River, catching a fair number of spawning white perch. Suddenly, one of them said, in order to produce a fish species known as a walleye, you first must cross-breed a yellow perch with a chain pickerel.

Come again? A yellow perch’s roe, fertilized by the milt of a male chain pickerel, produces a walleye, which would make it a hybrid of sorts? All of that was news to me, but this man was having so much fun impressing his partner that I waited until the “expert’s” pal waded off before I gently broke the news to the self-styled fisheries biologist that a walleye was a species all by itself.

Sounding a lot like my better half, he flatly told me I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Among the biggest tellers of tall tales are my fellow bass fishermen and deer hunters. (In my youth, I undoubtedly did a fair share of boasting when the subject of huge bucks and monstrous bass came up.)

I’d like to have a crisp $10 bill for all of the times I’ve heard about whopper deer and largemouth bass that existed more in the imagination of the storyteller than they did in reality.

It’s difficult to keep score of all the white-tailed bucks I’ve been told about whose antler spread exceeded the width of fully outstretched adult arms - which could approach 5 feet. Seriously, successful hunters know a 24-inch antler spread is something to behold. Anything wider than that commands multiple oohs and aahs.

Then there are the dozens of anglers throughout the years who have told me they regularly catch 10- and 11-pound largemouth bass. If that were true, local taxidermists would be overrun with requests to mount those behemoths. Yet any taxidermist worth his paints and badger hair brushes will agree that the typical mounted bass tends to be in the 5- to 6-pound range.

There are few 10-pounders caught, even in the hallowed freshwater bass lakes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California. Despite that, I occasionally hear from local fishermen who insist, “Yesterday, I had two 9-pound bass and one 10-pounder.” Where were they caught, I always ask. The invariable answer is, “A friend’s farm pond that only I can fish in” or “the Potomac River.”

Most likely, these catches never occurred. If they did, we would be swamped with digital photos and accounts from witnesses.

That brings to mind a fellow who last week told me the average size of the yellow perch he hooked in a Maryland river measured in excess of 17 inches. “What did you do with them?” I wondered aloud. He said he released them because he didn’t like to eat perch. “Did you know that you probably released several Maryland state records?” I asked. He answered, “Records? I don’t care about setting records.”

And that’s the biggest whopper of all.

I suppose the need to impress unknowing bystanders is part of the fishing and hunting game. And, as long as no one is harmed by it and no laws are broken, well, there’s no damage done.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Read Mueller’s Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide