I think fisherman use a different measurement system then everyone else in the world. You will see someone catch a fish, ask them how big it was only to get a answer that seems exaggerated. There’s one number in particular that reigns top of the list in North Carolina. When I first moved to Watauga County I started fishing close to town. I fished this one section pretty regularly and never caught anything over 12inches. I talked to a guy one day who said he caught a fish that was 26inches from the same area where I had fished many times before. I never doubted it and continued to fish the water vigorously for a month or so. Still, I never caught anything over 12inches. As I became more familiar with people and places, I started to ask around to find the best fishing spots. Again this 26inch figure came up. There was a creek north about 30miles where supposedly 26inch fish are caught all the time. I fished it and the water was only about 2ft deep in the deepest places. I couldn’t see how a fish over even 20inches could live there very long. I figured maybe in its hay day there were huge fish there.
I started to really fish the whole area around the county. Meeting fisherman and it seemed whenever someone wanted to tell me about a big fish they caught that day or ever, it was 26inches. I started to want to laugh whenever someone said that number it was so funny to me that these big fish were always 26inches. Not 30 not 25 but 26. It really made me question the actual size. Especially when I’ve seen many anglers catch a fish right in front of me and tell me it was at least a 15inch fish when maybe it was 10inches. The reason I bring this up is there are many thoughts about what makes a good fisherman. Some people believe it’s how many fish you catch; others believe it’s how many BIG fish you catch. Whatever you believe is your opinion. I personally believe a great fisherman is someone who can CATCH fish in any conditions. Some have told me the size exaggeration comes from the stereotype that all fishermen are storytellers and should exaggerate. I never liked that theory. I started to call out everyone who made these claims of 26inch fish asking for pictures or did you measure it with a tape? This offended too many people. No one wants to be called a liar especially not someone from the south. Regardless, most people could never give me good evidence of how they got this 26inch measurement. I figure people catch a big fish and the adrenaline is running, it’s probably the biggest fish they ever caught. They start thinking about other stories of people catching huge fish and describing it to them. Then they think this fish is probably at least that big. So it’s probably 26inches. Or others believe no one will believe 30inches and 26 sounds better then 22. My advice is marking your rod where certain measurements are. 15inches up from the butt make a mark. Then make another one 20inches and so on. Then you can just lay your rod next to the fish and know right away how big it is. Don’t be one of those guys telling the tale of the old 26incher. Nothing is worse then telling someone a story only to see the expression of disbelief come over their face.