Montana Outdoors

April 6, 2007

A horse of a Different Color and a Fish of a Various Size.

Filed under: Fishing, Humor, Montana, Outdoors — montucky @ 10:07 pm

(I don’t know how a horse got involved in this, but it did make an interesting title, didn’t it?)

I was planning a fishing trip the other day and while filling out the Environmental Impact Statement now required for an outdoor activity causing any conceivable impact on the status of wildlife (and since it was my clear intent to impact the heck out of the status of several nice trout I thought I’d better fill one out), I was reminded that fish come in various sizes, as noted on page 476, paragraph 3, line 6 of said Statement.

Now while that seems clear enough and should be obvious to most people, especially outdoorsmen, what often gets ignored is the fact that any individual fish can also come in various sizes. Following are some examples of this phenomenon.

The fish you set out to catch is always larger than the one you actually end up catching. (Enter this on page 734 under “intended devastation of the fauna“), although at best you can only come up with a rough estimate of its size. It’s best to use the largest estimate you can come up with because that way it’s not as easily construed to be one of an “endangered” variety. (By the way, never mention Bull Trout in any of these statements! That will draw the attention of the EPA, Homeland Security, PETA, your local Synagogue’s Ladies Auxiliary and Basket Weaving Society and several other regulatory agencies you’ve probably never even heard of. If you are a writer, it will increase your readership, but probably not the kind of readership you want to increase!)

The second example is closely related to the first. It’s the fish you tell everyone that you’re going to catch as soon as the season opens, some of the ice has left your favorite stream and most of your fishing tackle has been defrosted. This case doesn’t require filling out THE STATEMENT, but the fish alluded to is always much larger than any you’ve ever caught or you’d ever dream of catching, and varies considerably from the one you eventually will catch.

The third example I want to get off my conscience, er, I mean mention, is that the fish in my creel sometimes vary from the size of the ones designated in the “slot limits”. (For those who aren’t familiar with slot limits, they are regulations which only allow certain sizes of fish to be possessed on a certain stream, usually expressed as “2 under X inches and 1 over Y inches with Z number total allowed if it’s Thursday, otherwise you should have thrown them all back“.) I can explain this variance by using the same reasoning used in the old story that states “politicians always lie, therefore if you are lying, you’re a politician”. From experience I know that to be a true statement, so my statement also has to be true, as follows: “this 18 inch Rainbow I have here can’t be 18 inches because the ‘slot limit’ says it can be no longer than 17 inches, and who are you going to believe, me or the Department of Fish & Wildlife?”.

Finally, concerning fish that have been caught in the past. I’ve noticed that the size of each fish nearly always varies as time passes, sometimes growing as much as a pound a year over the first twelve years or so, slowing down slightly after that, possibly indicating that the story teller has a very fertile memory or a memory full of fertile things, perhaps left by the horse mentioned in the title. (You didn’t think I’d be able to fit him in again, did you?)

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