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Playing the odds as a world-class angler

Long ago, I met a relatively famous outdoor writer from the U.S. who provided me with words of exceptional wisdom. He said, “Never proclaim yourself ‘the world’s best’ at anything.”

He learned this the hard way too. For, at one time, he boldly proclaimed himself, in print, radio and television, as the “Best wild turkey hunter in the world.” And he had the vanity plates that said “Trkymaster” to prove it.

This was good for his career for a while, but it was even better for rooting out like-minded people. For, within months of doing that, he had had to defend his claim to the title with dozens of other hunters who asserted a similar status. And that was just in his small section of the Ozarks– where, apparently, all the world’s best wild turkey hunters live.

Eventually, he realized the error of his ways and rebranded himself as, “The third best turkey hunter in the world.”

It was a stroke of genius and he has remained unchallenged ever since.

For, in the immortal words of Larry, “No one ever wants to be third best.”

That’s why I am taking this moment to proclaim myself “The third best creek chub angler in the world.”

A lot of non-outdoorsy types might be wondering why it is so important to have a prestigious title like this. Well, if one of the 6,000 or so fishing shows, is looking to do an in-depth segment on catching creek chub, I will, with any luck at all, be the third one they ask. Being third on the list means they will have no or very little in the way of expectations.

Which means there will be no pressure for me to produce. That kind of stress is reserved for the world’s first- and second-best creek chub anglers. So, frankly it’s a win-win at this end.

Also, it is a long shot but, if either the world’s first- or second-best creek chub anglers retire or succumb to the glamorous lifestyle their titles afford, I will move up in ranking. In the business, that is called playing the long game.

That’s because I believe in paying your dues and honing your craft. No one, except perhaps the first- and second-best creek chub anglers in the world, catches more creek chub than me when trout fishing.

Are there benefits to this, you ask? Well, aside from the possibility of writing a best-selling book on the topic that gets optioned into a blockbuster movie or HBO series, probably not. And, again, I won’t lie to you – that’s a bit of wishful thinking.

Even so, there are subtle perks to the title. For instance, I can walk into a room full of anglers and know that each of them – with the exception of the first- and second-best creek chub anglers in the world – will look on me with a mixture of envy and respect.

And, eventually, I suspect, there will be groupies and a fan club too – and no doubt a stalker or two.

Also, having this title will allow me to write riveting articles such as this and bestow upon me the gravitas to advise trout anglers everywhere as to what they are doing wrong each time they land a pesky 20-inch brook trout from a creek full of chub.

Unless the first- or second-best creek chub anglers in the world beat me to it.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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