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photo by Corey Huntphoto by Corey Hunt

"Social media is nothing but a pixelated myth."

My pastor hit the nail on the head not only with this sermon point but also when applied to fish pictures across the internet. I have fished enough to know there are some monster-sized trout all over the world, and it is a great achievement to catch one on a fly. However, being a native of the south, I also know that you cannot catch a 10lb native brook trout in a small mountain stream. By skimming social media, it seems the fish get bigger and mine keep getting smaller. If you feel this way, don't despair, just look closer. To keep people drooling over your pixelated myths, it's all about angle and perception.

Cameras can be your best friend or worst nightmare. There are great pictures taken with anything from iPhones to expensive professional equipment, but a good pixelated myth is more about angles than equipment. My dad taught me from a young age the importance of angles when holding fish. When I was about five, I started fishing lakes in the spring and summer with my dad. We used bait and caught some monster bluegill and an occasional crappie. One particular day, we were catching fish so small they might have been bait. Dad instructed me to hold the fish as far in front of my body as my little arms could reach. Had social media been around at that time, I'm quite confident the fish could have appeared to be a world record.

My father never let the truth get in the way of a good story, and has been pixelating myths long before I was born. Dad had a group of friends in college that were always trying to outdo one another. One particular competition was trying to outfish one of his fellow forestry majors. Dad was unsuccessful in landing a big fish on the day of the competition but did not let that deter him. Dad recruited the help of a friend who walked about 50 feet away from the fish with a camera, while Dad tied the line with the fish attached to an overhanging tree branch and left the fish dangling in the air. Dad backed up another 50 feet away from the fish and held his arm out with his fist gripping the air. The pixelated myth they created was a bass that was over 4 feet in length. I think they won the bet out of sheer creativity and lack of corroborating evidence. 

Perception is the second component of creating a pixelated myth. Any lawyer will tell you that a case is won or lost around this concept, and fishing pictures are no different. You, the jury, decide what is true and the better the pixelated myth, the more convincing the lies. Case and point, a recent fishing trip with my 3-year-old daughter. My daughter has the attention span of a gnat but also loves to be outdoors. Delayed harvest streams in the south have a consistent amount of action most of the day, which seemed like the perfect scenario for a 3-year-old timetable. I packed lots of snacks, and we headed to the stream. After a short hike, we found a hole of freshly stocked trout not far off the trail and a pile of rocks at the bottom of the hole, which seemed like a gift from the fishing gods. The 3-year-old was able to eat goldfish snacks and enjoy the splashing rocks in the water, while I went to the top of the hole to entice a trout to bite. When the snacks and rocks ran out, which was much sooner than I had anticipated, my daughter wanted to know if she could help me catch a fish. I felt my heart warm at that moment, and I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I set up my camera and tripod to try and document our experience. Luckily, I had the timer set to take a picture every 3 seconds, because she fished for a total of 10, before she thought the rod made a better shovel in the sandy bottom of the stream than a means to catch fish. Looking back through the reel of pictures was comical. You only need one good picture to set the pixelated tone for the trip, and we found one. Just one. 

Your mom was right; you can't believe everything you see. Pixelated myths are all around us, and have inundated our everyday lives. It can be hard to separate the truth from fiction, especially on social media. However, don't despair if you fail to reel in a hawg on your next fishing trip. Keep the pixelated myths coming, and remember it's all about angles and perception.