Fishing Arrogance


Our country’s arrogance extends to almost everything in our country. However, in most cases, it is very much misplaced or unwarranted. Of course, our country is a wonderful place to live when compared to many other countries, but some countries compare quite well with the USA in such matters.  Here are some cases of misplaced USA arrogance.

The United States does not have one of the three longest river systems on the planet. When we put the Missouri and Mississippi together, we do have the fourth longest, but the amount of water flowing down our largest river system is a small fraction of that flowing down the Amazon River of South America. We also do not have any of the seven deepest lakes in the world or any of the ten largest reservoirs by surface area.

The  tallest mountain in the United States is Mt. Denali/McKinley with an elevation of more than 20,000 feet.  However, it could be several hundred feet taller and still not be one of the 20 tallest mountains in South America or more than 6,000 feet taller and still not be one of the ten tallest mountains in Asia.

Some other things we do not have – the US does not have any of the eight largest buildings in the world based on square footage. It doesn’t have any of the ten longest railroad tunnels, most populated cities,  or highest bridges.

Since this is supposed to be primarily a fishing website, let’s look at how this arrogance permeates our country’s fishing.

The biggest affront to the perceived supiority of United States bass fishing is that we no longer own the world record for heaviest largemouth bass ever landed. Of course, we claim to share the world record, but the plain truth is that the jumbo largemouth bass taken by Manabu Kurita in Japan’s Lake Biwa in 2009, at 22.31 pounds is about one ounce heavier than the former world record holder from Lake Montgomery in Georgia which was taken in 1932 and weighed 22.25 pounds. Somewhow, the current record-keeping behavior now only recognizes a new world record largemouth if the new fish is at least two ounces heavier than the previous record – so the old world record from Georgia can still claim co-ownership of the world record. But make no mistake, the heaviest largemouth bass ever legally caught and officially weighed came out of Japan. It should not have been such a surprise that Japan claimed the world record largemouth since other jumbo bass weighing to more than 19 pounds have been caught in recent years and there is an unverified report of a 25 pound largemouth taken by a commerical fisherman from Lake Biwa in 2009

The United States has set more state records for flathead and blue catfish in the last two decades than in any other 20 year period in our history. However, the maximum size of our biggest catfish is dwarfed by the largest catfish in Asia, Europe and South America and essentially tied by the largest catfish in Africa..

During most of the last 72 years, the recognized world record pike was a 46 pound two ounce fish caught in New York’s Great Sacandaga Lake. Discounting the fact that back then, mis-identification of fish species was rather common and the fish could easily have been a musky, the numerous larger pike caught from many European countries and Russia were pretty much ignored. In recent years, some of these European pike have been accorded world record status – as well they should have – and many countries have produced heavier pike than have been caught in the USA. One way we could salvage our national angling pride could be to start calling muskies, norther pike since they are pretty much confined to North American and rival the heaviest European pike in weight.

Even the European counterpart to our walleye grows to a larger size. The record zander, taken in 1986, weighed 25 pounds two ounces – topping the dubious walleye world record of 25 pounds taken in Tennessee in 1960 and the 22 pound 11 ounce fish many consider the real world record taken from Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas in 1982.

Even our yellow perch are upstaged by the very visually similar European perch which can grow to at least eight pounds and has been introduced with great success to New Zealand and Australia.

For years, the recognized world record brown trout was a 39 pound eight ounce fish taken a long time ago from Sweden. The record’s authenticity was very much in doubt since many thought that the fish was actually an Atlantic salmon and the record should actually be a 35 pound 15 ounce brown from Argentina. When brown trout larger than the Argentina fish are finally caught from USA waters,  the Swedish world record was disallowed. The world brown trout record finally culminated in a 40 pound four ounce fish from a tributary of the White River in Arkansas. In the meantime, dozens of jumbo brown trout had been caught from alpine European lakes that would easily top anything taken from the United States. These seeforellen browns reached weights of at least 50 pounds. Even larger browns were taken from tributaries of Russia’s Caspian Sea with the largest of these coming from the Kura River where an unofficial record of 112 pounds was taken in a net. These browns only lived for about ten years, but were capable of reaching weights of well above 50 pounds. Presently, virtually none of these Caspian brown trout are living beyond six years and it appears that the largest speciments of the Caspian Sea and the alpine Seeforellen browns are no longer present. That fact when considered with the Seeforellen browns planted in Lake Michigan now reaching weights of well over 40 pounds may indicate that with brown trout, perhaps US arrogance may now, or in the near future, actually be warranted.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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