Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Art of the Tale

Most winters in Alaska, there is a run of fish at the local pub. These fish are all huge, they eat only the flies that you have, they all fight like hell and never break your line, and they all give you the phone number of a hot chick if you release them.


It is our contention that more fish have been caught in pubs than actually exist in the local watersheds. Some of these fish, it is said, raise the water levels of the rivers they swim in due to their sheer size.

If you think that fishermen in general are capable of stretching the bounds of credibility, you need to see the rare bird of the fishing tale world, the Alaska Free-Range Bullshitter.

While not our term, we wish it were. "Free-Range Bullshitter" was coined by another guy, a transplant from Outside (aren't we all?) who spent a winter doing dumb stuff to himself and his neighbors, and generally learning that mental attitude and the ability to bullshit are essential tools for Alaskan winter survival.

The telling of stories is in and of itself an artform. With subtle twists, you can take actual fish and transplant them a few islands over, thereby ensuring your relative privacy when visiting your home water. Straw castles can be meticulously built over a period of months, giving small bits of misinformation and sleight of fish to keep your water secret, hidden from the prying eyes of a small community.

Why not just shaddup, you ask?

Because we live in a small town and know (and are known) by all the fishermen that matter. Each and every one of us knows what the other's cars, trucks, and boats look like, and we all keep tabs on each other whether we are fishing or not. We all know where folks fish...and we all run into each other in the long winters spent moping around town.

A fella has to be polite, and since most of us are fishfreaks, we talk about fishing. Enter the Free-Range Bullshitting.

No one ever calls anyone on the stretching of the truth. That would be seriously bad form. It can be and usually is mentioned later, but not during the actual stretching or contorting. Points are awarded for the stretcher's ability to look another in the eye and flat-out lie about where he was fishing and what he caught. Deductions are accrued for any mention of "secret creek" or "I told (whoever) that I wouldn't tell".

We here at Neil Creek, being the pirates that we are, appreciate the fish-story almost as much as the fish, and we take pride in our ability to Hoodwink and Bamboozle. Every now and then, just to keep folks on their toes, we throw in a gem of truth for a few close heads, knowing that those folks understand the concept of reciprocity when it comes to fishing alliances and associations.

So sit back, hoist a pound, and tell us again about the one that just about ate your anchor when you got it near the boat, then we'll tell you about the one that chewed that bear's leg off in the Meadow Run.

132 days 'til we can do it again.

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