By Ken Schultz
Someone told me a few years ago about a person who was writing a book about his attempt to catch fifty species of fish on a fly. He was hoping to get an article about this published in a major magazine and the feat was allegedly going to qualify for a Guinness World Record.
My first reaction, as it usually is with such stuff, was to dismiss this undertaking and wonder if this person doesn’t have some better contribution to make to mankind.
Then it occurred to me that I have probably caught fifty or more species of fish on a fly, though
not the same fly. Every major North American trout and salmon species puts me immediately to about ten for starters. Throw in the basses and pike and panfish and even a walleye (really) and I’m up to nearly twenty without even trying hard or getting to trash fish, non-gamefish, or saltwater species. All I have to do the next time I go to Brazil is throw a white streamer for a day and I’ll tally a dozen species.
There have to be scores of fanatical fly anglers who have caught over fifty different species of fish on a fly. What’s the big deal?
It also occurred to me that there must be many lures that have caught fifty different species. Assorted spinners, spoons, jigs, and minnow plugs are all likely candidates. Couldn’t these be Guinness records? What’s so special about doing this on fly tackle? (Please don’t make me vomit by suggesting that this is more sporting or more challenging.)
Then I wondered if this feat is not about catching fifty different fish species by fly fishing but catching fifty different species on the same fly. Now that would be an impressive feat. Shucks, catching fifty fish of the same species on one fly should be a world record. However, I don’t think even the most heavily fortified super fly could stand up to fifty fish.
And what does Guinness know about sportfishing anyway?
So I went to the Guinness World Records web site to find their criteria for setting records. The first thing that I saw was a blurb about the world record for longest ear hair.
The Guinness site said that Radhakant Bajpai of Naya Ganj, Uttar Pradesh, India, has hair sprouting from the center of his outer ears (middle of the pinna) that measures 5.19 inches at its longest point. The accompanying photo of him showed a good chunk of black hair in both ears. He could have tied a bunch of dark flies with all that ear hair.
There doesn’t seem to be a clearly defined set of rules for what does and does not qualify for Guinness World Record verification. Guinness then had a database of over 40,000 records and received 50,000 proposals a year. If you want to establish a record you have to go through their claims proposal process, where they say that the new categories they choose “tend to be exciting, easily quantifiable, and of the greatest interest to people worldwide.”
Like the longest ear hair.
Anyway, they ask if your proposed record is a first. Which I would bet a hundred trout flies this one is not.
They ask if your proposed feat is based on possessing a unique talent or a unique object, which generally means that other people cannot break the record, so that would not be an acceptable category. Elbow licking, for example, is not an acceptable category.
I decided that catching fifty different species on a fly must come under the “unusual skills” heading, like knotting cherry stems with your tongue, stacking bowling balls on top of each other, or the furthest cricket spit – that’s spitting a live cricket out of your mouth, in case you were puzzled.
Then I did a search under the word ‘fishing,’ to see if Guinness has other records based on fishing accomplishments. None came up. But I did see that they then listed the world’s largest fly fishing rod at 71 feet 4.5 inches long. The reel that accompanied this rod measured 4 feet in diameter and 10 inches in width.
Perhaps that was the tackle used by noted fly fisherman Paul Bunyan. I’ll bet he caught a lot of different fish species on a fly, too.
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