"There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind." - Washington Irving
Monday, March 7, 2011
Beyond mere tradition, there has long been an artistry associated with the fish story, a mesmerizing tapestry that weaves the elements of wilderness, mystery and occasional machismo into an enthralling thrill-of-the-hunt narrative.
It's a talent bred by the likes of Melville and Hemingway, perpetuated and honed through generations of riverside campfire worshipers, and now distilled through iPhone, Blackberry and 3G technologies.
Take, for example, the text that made its way across my desk last week, reading in essence: I just caught a fish with two mouths. Call me for a picture.
As compelling as angler Mark Wilson's brief tale was, it's nothing without the visual accompaniment. Indeed, it's all but impossible to imagine. Two gills, yes. Two eyes, no problem. But a second mouth? Isn't that kind of like having two heads? Where would it fit? And how did it get there?
But Wilson provided proof of the two-mouthed trout that took his worm-tipped minnow at Lon Hag- ler Reservoir in Larimer County last Sunday, corroborated through a phone call that conveyed the appropriate shock and awe.
"My reaction was just like everyone I show it to: What the heck are they putting in the water?" Wilson, 45, said. "It really blew me away."
A vigilant outdoorsman, Wilson carried the roughly 12-inch specimen to the Division of Wildlife's Research Center in Fort Collins to unlock the mystery behind the anomaly. Although he doesn't recall the name of the researcher he spoke with, he distinctly remembers his surprise at being told the deformity was no big deal.
"What do you mean? It is a big deal," Wilson said. "When was the last time you caught one with two mouths, dude?"
After some discussion, it was concluded that the hatchery rainbow likely had been injured as a fingerling and adapted to the damaged jaw with the formation of a second mouth, teeth and all, behind the first. Wilson speculates the 1 1/2-pound fish had some feeding challenges, as it took nearly five minutes of nibbling before the bait made it into the upper mouth and he set the hook.
Wilson's tale is clearly not the type of story you hear every day, unless your name is Mark Wilson. The lifelong outdoorsman followed his nephew, CSU sophomore defensive tackle Curtis Wilson, to Fort Collins after being laid off from his job as a construction project manager in Alabama last year. He has a short list of unusual outdoor tales to his credit, including one of shooting a seven-point doe while hunting in Georgia.
"I'm into it more than a lot of other people, so maybe it's just a matter of statistics," he said. "If you catch 10,000 fish in your life, eventually you find one with two mouths. You kill 50 deer, maybe you'll kill a doe with antlers. It happens."
Yes, on occasion, it does happen. And when it does, The Denver Post would like to hear the tale and share it with readers.
Devoted Colorado outdoorsmen have no doubt lamented the now year-long loss of distinguished outdoors writer Charlie Meyers and his contribution to the community through inimitable narrative acumen. The Post also has felt the loss, and this week marks our attempt to return to the tradition — and occasional artistry — of the outdoors journalism genre, with a few modern twists.
Among them is an invitation to readers to connect with us to share their photos and unembellished tales of outdoor adventures. We'll be revealing others in coming weeks. Until then, keep fishing for those stories.
Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: Scott Willoughby is taking over as our new Outdoors editor. Willoughby has covered Outdoor Extremes for the past several years and has written extensively on fishing and other outdoors topics through the years. His columns will appear each Sunday and Wednesday.