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Pondering false advertising out on the lake

Yesterday after dinner, I decided to do something outdoorsy, so I drove to a local lake and decided to use my fly rod to catch some crappie. Targeting a specific species is funny business for me because it generally means that I will encounter other species I had no intention of messing with.

Not to brag, but I am a master of this. For instance, last week while hunting wild turkey, I had two bull moose browse by me at seven yards and then walk right into and through my decoy setup. I have no doubt in my mind that those moose knew that I was hunting wild turkey and therefore decided to mess with me.

This came as no surprise to me, however. I believe that most fish and game know I am an easy mark. In fact, I fully expect to have two gobblers sit in the tree above me the next time I decide to go moose hunting.

Last evening’s crappie expedition was just another version of that. When I got to a perfect crappie spot, I immediately started catching perch, sunfish and rock bass – because, of course, that’s what happens when I announce I’m going to catch some crappie.

I eventually did catch about 10 crappie, though. But only because I gave up on the idea of ever catching a crappie again.

Instead, I decided that since I was catching perch, sunfish and rock bass, it was time to forget about those stupid crappies and target the fish that wanted to play. This immediately caused the rock bass, sunfish and perch to make themselves scarce and the crappie, who were no longer my target species, to decide it was time to bite. This works every time – unless, of course, you tell yourself it works every time, in which case it never works. This is key, so remember that.

The point is I caught a mess of small crappie, which, though fun, did not exactly make for tonight’s dinner, because I threw them back.

To make a dinner of crappie, you need what anglers call slabs – which are the bigger fish.

I should mention for those who don’t know that crappie is a very good fish to eat.

Right now, those same people are probably thinking they don’t sound like a good fish to eat. The word crappie just sounds like someone didn’t try all that hard to make the word crappy a little more elegant. And that’s not exactly appealing.

I have a theory about this, however. That being, they were named crappie because they didn’t hire the same guy who worked for the Rocky Mountain Oyster marketing board. That guy was a marketing genius.

On the other hand, this could have been a deliberate attempt to throw people off the scent. Maybe some taxonomist who had a soft spot for crappie decided that the best way to protect these beautiful little panfish from the hungry masses would be to call them an unappetizing name. I imagine they considered even worse names like poopbass and turdfish first. In the end, however, they settled with crappie, which is just strange enough to make people like my Jenn wonder why we would even consider eating a fish so poorly named.

There is a lesson here. If, by chance, I ever find myself in some far-off impenetrable jungle surrounded by hungry cannibals, the first thing I’m going to keep calm and introduce myself.

“Hello,” I’ll say. “My friends call me Turdfish.”

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