Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
June 7, 2011

Andy Whitcomb

The Numbers Don’t Lie

A circular from Bass Pro Shops just arrived in the mail advertising, among many other items, a fish counter.

Fisheries biologists use these clickers to count large numbers of fish, such as with salmon runs. Ordinarily, I do not get into large numbers of fish. I do recall one afternoon along a wall below a low-water dam on the Des Moines River in Iowa when I caught 115 white bass. I am confident of this number even though this total was just kept in my head. However, all fish were released, so I did not have to worry about regulations.

It also has been a while since I have gone crappie fishing.  Crappie fillets are not large, remarkably tasty, and when you catch one, there are probably a lot more there. Oklahoma regulations allow you to keep 37 crappie, white or black combined. Why 37? Because 38 would be ridiculous.

If I had to count through a stringer or bucket of 37 crappie (or 74 if fishing with a friend), I am confident that the kids would have asked me a dozen questions during that time. Thus, I would have had to start over with my counting a dozen times. In just one fishing trip, that fish counter would have minimized enough frustration to make it a sound investment.

I now own two.  (I have two kids.) Most of the time, they just use them to help maintain sanity on our long road trips to Pennsylvania, keeping a tally of semi trucks or hawks. The other day, the counter helped extend a fishing outing.

My daughter loves to come on fishing trips, but does not always fish. She likes to comb the shore looking for frogs, flowers, snails and such. If she is having fun, the fishing trip continues; if not, the trip comes to a screeching halt. Literally.

Since she did not want to fish this particular afternoon, her assignment was to keep track of the bass we caught and released, thus keeping the pressure on to hurry up and catch another so she could click that thing.

It is just a good idea to keep your statistician happy.

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.

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