Robert U. Montgomery

Legendary Fish

Legendary Fish

A frayed piece of leader owns a place of honor at my desk. It was left to me by a “legendary fish.”

That’s my own term so I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard it before. For me, “legendary fish” is one rung up the ladder from “big,” “trophy,” and even “fish of a lifetime.”

Of course, pursuit of a trophy is one of our prime motivators. And losing a big one fuels the fire in our belly even more. If we can’t get the one that got away, we want one even larger.
We replay over and over in our heads how and why we lost those fish. We didn’t set the hook hard enough. Our drag was too loose. We didn’t hold the rod low enough. And so on and so on. Truth be known, many of our friends and family probably are long-past tired of hearing us recount our heart-wrenching tales of those big ones that got away.

But for me, a legendary fish is different. Believe it or not, I’m okay with having lost three of those. If I had caught them, would I have been happy? Certainly. Because they were immense fish, each would hold a place of high honor in my memory bank. And my family and friends would be long-past tired of hearing me recount how I caught them.

So why am I okay with failure? I’m not. I didn’t fail. Those fish beat me, pure and simple. With each one, I can think of nothing that I could have done differently to bring it to the boat. Call that rationalization if you want. I don’t see it that way.

Just having seen and done battle with each for a few seconds is enough for me. In fact, I believe that I am even more pleased with those memories than I would be with “hero” photos of me with those brutes.

You can read about my "legendary fish" in a chapter by the same name in
Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen.

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