This week the IGFA posted a picture of a pending world record peacock bass that weighed 30 pounds 13 ounces. I have no reason to doubt the angler, the guide, the organization or the Boga Grip that they weighed it on, but I have to admit that on first glance my thought was that the fish didn’t look any bigger than the 21 pounder that I caught in 2012. In fact, it didn’t look any bigger than a number of teen class fish that I’ve seen in person or in pictures.
And therein lies a major problem with the state of big fish analysis today. We’ve been so jaded by liars, photography tricks and internet hoaxes that we’re predisposed to doubt any big fish presented to us. I know that I am. People post pictures of their alleged 10 pounders from Falcon, Okeechobee, El Salto and all points in between, and judging by how close to the camera they’re holding them, there’s no real way to judge, except to know that they’re not the weight they proclaim.
The rise of GoPro cameras and increased use of wide-angle lenses has emboldened prior liars and spread the phenomenon far and wide. Posed correctly, any 5 pounder can look like it weighs substantially more. As a popular meme states: “I’ve seen your so-called 7 pounders and I’m getting you a scale for Christmas.”
As a result of all of that chicanery, I am suspicious of any fish that doesn’t look so huge and bloated that there can be no doubt that it’s a true giant….which means that the serial exaggerators have made it bad for the good guys. I have to remind myself that even two fish of the same dimensions can pull the scale down to substantially different weights – fish on some waters just seem to legitimately “weigh heavy” and individual specimens within a fishery can be even “denser,” for lack of a better term.
I hope that the recently-caught peacock that IGFA posted does turn out to be a new record. It would inject some excitement into the chase for a species that I very much respect and treasure. At the same time, I hope that it doesn’t give the liars among us (and all of you know a few) even more license to increase their exaggerations even further, turning their true 8 pound bass from 10 pounders into 12s, and their teen-class peacocks from 20s to 25s.