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Pounds and Inches

"Caught a nice one last year, up north at the resort. It was a real beauty and weighed five pounds, four ounces. A really nice fish."
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Lives there a fisherman who hasn't heard words to that effect, many, many times?
Or perhaps even uttered them himself?
But wait.
Let's analyze what's going on. To do so, contrast the following:

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"Had a follow by a forty–incher, and then right after that, caught one a little bigger, a forty–five inch class fish."
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Are these two quotations from the same fisherman? And if not, what can we tell about the two of them?

Enough games – here's what I'm getting at. There are two varieties of fishermen in this world. One talks in terms of "pounds," and the other talks in "inches." The first quote is obviously by a man of the former type, and the second by the latter.

And my friends, I say to you, there is a world of difference between the two. Let me show you.

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"Caught a nice one last year, up north at the resort. It was a real beauty and weighed five pounds, four ounces. A really nice fish."
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I can safely tell you the following about this man. First, he comes from Minnesota. The "up north" thing is a dead giveaway. However, he doesn't own a lake cabin, and thus fishes only sporadically at a resort. Remembering a five pound fish from last year is another indication.

Furthermore, the man is a walleye fisherman. A bassin' man wouldn't consider a fish of that size to be noteworthy, and wouldn't talk about it. The size also eliminates bigger fish (northerns & muskies) and smaller ones (sunnies & crappies). So the man caught a medium size walleye while on vacation at a resort, and is bragging about it.

What else do we know? He kept the fish. That's what we know. He kept it and filleted it and fried it and ate it. He talked about the fish in "pounds," and he kept it and ate it.

But the second man? He said,

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"Had a follow by a forty–incher, and then right after that, caught one, a little bigger, a forty–five inch class fish."
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Obviously a muskie fisherman – nobody else talks about fish "follows," and nobody else talks in terms of inches. So what was this fellow doing?

Well, he was casting for muskies, not trolling or bobber fishing. He was casting, and had a follow by a small muskie. And then within a couple of casts he caught one, but it was no big deal. That fish wasn't the biggest of his life. He thought so little of it that he didn't net it and measure it. In fact, he probably water released it, given that he had only an approximate length for it. So he's also clearly an experienced muskie angler, a man who's caught a lot bigger fish.

But more important, this man didn't catch and keep and eat that forty–five incher. In fact, the thought of keeping it never entered his mind, and if you asked him why, he would just look at you with amazement. I won't even begin to tell you what would happen if you tried to talk to him about eating muskies...

And there we have a true gentleman!

POUNDS and INCHES.

The next time you're around a fishing crowd, just listen to the way they talk about fish sizes. You'll see what I mean. As for you, start thinking inches, and forget pounds.

Both the fish and I will appreciate it.

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Date Created: June 5, 1996
Last Modified: April 10, 2004
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