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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

fishing illustration

Ever Wondered What Goes Through the Mind of a Lunker When He Gets Caught?

Hunting makes sense in the general nature of the food chain. A predator walks through the woods. He finds his prey in its natural habitat. He shoots it using a crossbow that looks like a prop from Blade Runner. It’s been the way of the world since the seventh day of creation when, on his day off, God created tactical scopes. 

Fishing, on the other hand, is entirely bizarre. As an excuse to drink light beer on the water with your friends, it’s fantastic. And people have been using it to eat for nearly 42,000 years, dating back to Tianyuan Man whose bones show he regularly consumed both fresh and saltwater fish with uncomfortable amounts of MSG.  

But think for a minute what a strange experience it must be for the fish. One day you’re swimming along getting your daily recommended dose of fish exercise, and you come upon what looks like a delicious piece of processed cheese.  

“Processed cheese?” you think. “Don’t usually see THAT floating around this pristine mountain lake. Plankton maybe. Dead flies. But Velveeta? Oh, this must be my lucky d….”  

And as soon as you get that first sweet bite of sodium alginate … BAM! There’s a sharp pain in the side of your mouth, and you’re suddenly yanked upward into a world you didn’t even know existed.  

Next thing you know you’re surrounded by a bunch of guys wearing Maui Jims and Huk shirts, sticking some strange metal object down your throat. You look down, and there’s a horrifying white box filled with empty Old Milwaukee cans and five other fish, who have understandably died from drinking that much Old Milwaukee.  

Somewhere in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “This is how I go. Trying to eat cheese on my afternoon swim, and now I’m at best going to be a nicely prepared ceviche.”  

Everyone in the boat takes turns snapping pictures with you, and you realize you’re probably going to be the main image on at least six different Tinder profiles. You really want to warn these guys that leading with a fish pic is the quickest path to a left swipe, but as you start to speak, you hear one of them say something about a “limit” and just as soon as you were yanked out of your cold, wet home you’re tossed back in.  

Your first thought is, “I need to text my therapist about this.” But of course, your therapist doesn’t have any openings until next Tuesday, so instead you swim back to your fish apartment where your roommates are all smoking pot and playing Call of Duty and didn’t even notice you’d been gone.  

“GUYS!” you yell as you swim in the door. “I’ve had a DAY.” Then you launch into your tale of cheese-induced surrealness, but nobody seems to believe you.  

“Let me get this straight,” one says. “You bit down on a piece of cheese, then this MAGIC orange ball makes you shoot straight up, into some bright light, where a bunch of giants in Huk shirts took your picture for their Tinder profiles? Dude, nobody uses Tinder anymore.”  

Suddenly, you’re an outcast, and behind your back other fish are saying things like, “Bill’s been really weird since he went for that swim last week. You think he’s hitting the sea sponges again?”  

Then, one day as you’re spending your fifteenth night in a row self-medicating at the corner bar, you spot a grouper with a similar scar on his cheek. 

“This is gonna sound really random,” you work up the courage to say, “but did you ever try to eat a ball of cheese and come within two minutes of death at the hands of a bunch of guys in Huk shirts?”  

His eyes get even bigger than they usually do for a grouper, and he tells you not only has that happened to him, but he’s on his way to a support group for other fish who’ve had the same experience. You meet with them, and life slowly gets back to normal. You go to spawning season and meet a nice lady fish. You have 100,000 babies, and six survive. Your fish brain has forgotten what happened five minutes ago, much less your traumatic afternoon with the cheese. And then one day when you just need, like, 10 minutes away from your family you go for a little swim.  

And as you swim, you see a ball of fresh bread dough, and think to yourself, “Bread dough? Boy, you never get stuff that fresh in South Dakota. This must be my lucky d….” 

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