I'm not sure where the rumor that anglers tend to verbally inflate the sizes of the fish they catch or lose started, but I know from first-hand experience that it's untrue. Well, most of the time at least. Deer hunters know that a buck's antlers always look much larger than they actually are before the deer is harvested. And should the hunter miss, those antlers will become even larger since the buck will be at least a few minutes older. So hunters should also be included in those unfounded rumors.
With summer vacations getting into full swing, there will be a substantial amount of fishing being done between now and autumn. There will fish caught and fish lost, both events spawning the types of stories that bounce around at coffee shops, taverns and sportsmen's clubs. I know because I usually hear my share. Although some listeners might scoff or snicker at the distance between the storyteller's hands when he/she demonstrates the fish's length, I only nod in agreement ... because I've gotten the same reaction, especially when telling about the "big one that got away." Heck, bring me your Bible and I'll swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
Take, for example, the largest northern pike I've ever seen attached to my fragile line.
It happened one July day in 1969. The late Don Clarke and I were spending a few days camping and canoe fishing on the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River near Harrisville in St. Lawrence County. We were about eight miles down river on a long placid stretch where we'd camped that day. That evening I caught a 12-pound pike from a setback off a big bend in the river. The next morning we decided to fish that same stretch before breaking camp and moving on down river.