Fishermen are liars. I know; I live with two. They don’t really intend to be untruthful, but in their excitement, they sometimes exaggerate the size or number of fish caught or their own heroism in netting their catch. Guess that’s why the folks who make those insulated coolers put a measuring device on the lids. If there’s a need to embellish a fishing story, there are usually willing accomplices to corroborate questionable details. If a fisherman goes fishing alone, then he is free to lie with impunity. But sometimes a fishing story is so outlandish, so fantastic and so fervently backed up by all present — that it must be believed.
A few years ago, three brothers were enjoying a summer afternoon fishing in a lake in front of their house. Usually there was so much work to do that youthful diversions were crowded out. Their father, the ag teacher at our school, firmly believes in the purifying value of manual labor for young men. They had all learned to drive a pick-up around the farm as soon as they could see over the wheel and learned to drive a tractor shortly thereafter. That day’s outing was a treat to be savored, not only because of the rarity of it, but also because it was one of the few times all the boys got to be together, since the oldest was grown and living several hours away.
Logan, the youngest, about ten at the time, kept getting his line tangled up in the weeds and the other boys’ lines. Each time, the oldest brother, Tyler, dutifully untangled it and admonished the boy to be more careful. Each of the boys had caught several fish but had tossed them all back. By about four or five o’clock, the August sun was coaxing the mercury up towards 100.
They were about to reel in their lines when Logan got a bite. He worked with it for a while, but seemed to get hung up again. This time when he asked for help, his brothers told him not to be such a sissy and to keep working at it. Suddenly, the boy started yelling desperately for help. When the two older boys looked again, Logan’s fishing pole dipped over, nearly touching the water. Suddenly, a huge bass broke the surface, and they got a good look at it. It was enormous!
The other boys dropped their poles and ran to help. The middle son, Blake realized they hadn’t even brought a stringer and sprinted back to house to find one. Tyler dove into the murky water to help bring in the gigantic fish. He found the line was indeed tangled in the weeds and algae. It was stretched so taut it looked like it could break any second. Logan still clenched his fishing rod and held it steady. When the fish neared the bank and broke the surface again, the amazed boys made an incredible discovery — there were two fish on the line! The original fish was a decent-sized bass that could have easily been landed. The other was a huge monster bass that had attempted to swallow the hooked fish.
By that time, Blake had returned with a stringer. Tyler finally freed the line and Logan reeled it in. They whooped and hollered and celebrated their victorious group effort. Logan called his parents and gave them the short version of what had happened and asked if they should fillet the big fish. "Just how big is it?" his dad wanted to know. The boy proudly reported it was over 27-inches long. His dad excitedly told him not to dare lay a knife on it — that was a trophy to keep. He promised to take it to the taxidermist as soon as possible.
The mammoth fish, instantly dubbed Big Earl, was preserved for a few weeks in the family freezer until the opportunity arose to go into "town." The fish now graces Logan’s wall. The legend of Big Earl and the epic fishing adventure was retold for years by Logan, his brothers and their dad without any need for amplification. And they have the evidence to prove that fisherman’s story was no fabrication.