Fishermen are liars!
After a superb day of fishing in the Canadian Wilderness, I prepare to utter my first exaggeration when Jonelis comes in with this monstrous THING. Look at it sir! This stretches all limits of credulity!
Naturally I object and make accusations of foul play. Just look at that fish!
Jonelis and his “Pike”
Catch and Release
I have no way to prove fraud. Knee Lake is 500 miles north of civilization – a protected Manitoba Trophy Lake. We must obey strict rules. Catch and release, of all things! Quickly lifting a Pike from the water for photographic purposes is as far as one can stretch it. Then the fish goes free!
Since Jonelis followed the law and released that THING unharmed, the only souls who actually saw it are himself, his toady Jim Kren, and their Cree guide. These witnesses all swear to it! There is the picture, sir—right on the back screen of his Nikon—the appalling photograph that I share with you here.
Examining the Evidence
Speculation among our group runs hot and fast, yielding various methods by which Jonelis might pull off such an elaborate hoax, given his limited mental faculties:
- First, there is the CONSPIRACY angle—Loop Lonagan calls it “Da Chicago Way”—influence, power plays, and deals under the table. Alexander Harbinger agrees and points to the “clout” the guide will enjoy in his circles. Yes, he may name any price for his services, sir! Nobody has seen a Northern Pike that big in a hundred years! But the photograph stands as mute evidence—a horrific image that cannot be ignored. No, we must refute it directly. I adroitly reach to press the DELETE key but Kren holds the camera too tight and close for even the most skilled tactical maneuver. The lot of us huddle around and commit to a meticulous study of the image on the screen.
- Bill Blaire, the giant, speaks first, saying in a slow, deep rumble, “He’s holdin’ da fish real close to da camera.” CLOSE TO THE LENS is the common practice among all men of our ilk. But no—I direct your attention to his hands. The digits do not appear oversized, as they would in such an amateur stunt and his arms stretch wide with everything in sharp focus. The answer must lie elsewhere.
- Donatas Ludditis suggests in Eastern European English that the Nikon possesses a BIG FISH BUTTON hidden deep in some arcane sub-menu. In an age of useless technological advances, this seems plausible enough. But I do not know of any advertisement that makes such a claim. A camera manufacturer is bound to trumpet a revolutionary feature such as that! Imagine trying to keep it secret once an enthusiastic and slavering marketing department finds out. No, this line of thought bears no fruit whatsoever.
- I conclude that the man brought along an INFLATABLE FISH in his luggage so he could finance the trip off the sweat of the workers. Joe Perogi goes so far as to slip off and search his gear. He returns dejected. To my quizzically raised brows he returns a brief shake of the head. Jonelis must have sunk the thing in the lake where it will forever rest in peace under a fifty-mile stretch of icy water. Yes, this seems the most likely answer. But how can I prove it?
I cannot. I am stuck in the mud.
That excellent essay by America’s greatest author comes to mind, ON THE DECAY OF THE ART OF LYING, and I wonder if this man has singlehandedly reversed that long-term trend. With abundant clarity of thinking, I reason that none of us will ever catch a fish close to the scale of that THING and our money will be measured out by the inch. When we pay off our wagers, this joy ride might end in outright hostility. Yes, there is little doubt—we must pay the man!
Now those three reprobates are signing the official Manitoba Master Angler papers. Each scrawls his distinct and individual X. According to Jim Kren, the boat’s official measuring stick is insufficiently long for an accurate report. That much is true. They write up that fish at 70 inches and brag that it’s probably more! Do you, sir, have an inkling what a Northern Pike such as that weighs? Of course not. Nobody does. No such fish exists–I think.
The end result? Jonelis goes into the record books for a third time. And I still say it’s a fish story. Probably.
For his part, in the midst of our group’s raucous opinions and heavy drinking, Jonelis appears stunned and numb. With glazed eyes, he stares at something seemingly far away. Practically in a trance, he responds to questions with inarticulate mumbling, and only then after long pauses–apparently for deep thought. We get nothing useful out of the man except for his unseemly state of bliss.
We all turn to Kren for the exact location of the crime so we might repeat it.
With utmost cruelty, Kren stands mum on that one essential fact. Then to my utter disgust, he relates a far-flung account of the three of them fighting the fish in shifts for hours and hours. In his version—which seems highly suspicious to a man of my sensitive nature—the monster jumps clear from the water and then sounds fifty feet deep several times—peeling off line as if a big Ambassadeur reel possesses no stopping power!
When I object, the man shows real audacity and claims that the fish was taken on a fly rod. One wonders why fishermen must embellish a yarn so far beyond reason.
Fish Stories Grow
Then Kren zooms the display close to the fish’s flanks and points out lacerations on its hide. In my outrage, I have overlooked this, but there they are! Tooth marks! Fresh blood, sir! A significantly more massive fish attacked this lunker during the fight! This is too much. I blanch at the magnitude of such propaganda!
Up until now, old man Ludditis has behaved reasonably well and even held his liquor. Now he whips out his huge Galaxy Note and searches till he produces a picture of a pike eating another pike at boatside. Then he finds a video. The infernal internet! One cannot avoid that wicked web of deceit—not even in such a desolate locale. I post those files below for your edification.
What conclusion can a thinking man draw from such events? Let me say that it is not an opportune time to tell my own lies, which seem to me rather meager by comparison.
I might also mention that I brought my swim trunks along but WILL NOT take a dip in Knee Lake! If invited, I will simply point to the fact that the water is too cold. ♠
Pike eats Pike
Photographs of Boat and Big Fish Copyright © John Jonelis 2014, taken at Northstar Resort on Knee Lake, Manitoba. Northstar makes no endorsement of this story.
Northstar Resort on Knee Lake can be reached at northstarresort.ca
Photograph of “Fish Eats Fish” from www.northernpikefishing.ca
Video of “fish eats fish” from www.youtube.com/watch?v=K45YcVyAATw
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