Out With the Old; I Hope

Everett Johnson
Hunters and fishermen display a noticeable penchant for naming the species and trophies they seek. Some are silly and others fairly serious. Deer and elk hunters engage in this almost universally and for the most part the monikers they bestow bespeak lifelong respect; sometimes awe and reverence. Those who live for deer hunting are heard to speak of Ol' Mossy in reference to a buck so wise and old and that has evaded hunters for so long as to sprout moss on his back and antlers. Of course anybody who has hunted anywhere near South Texas knows you might get away with disparaging comments about a buddy's wife or mother before you'd expect to get away with the same about Muy Grande. Elk hunters take things even further; monarch, royal, and regal are but a few of the endearing terms you'll hear passed among worshippers of the mighty wapiti.

Sometimes the names we give are not exactly correct from a taxonomy or anatomical viewpoint, however they are sufficiently descriptive to convey meaning and therefore earn a pass into the outdoorsman's lexicon. The term "bull red" definitely qualifies here. In this application "bull" is conferred to denote size and temperament. And unlike doe deer and cow elk, a female "bull" redfish is coveted every bit as highly as any male of the species. The term "bull" is used in other ways too; see also - bull tide and bull norther.

Spotted seatrout, or specks as we commonly refer to them, are the undisputed top prize among Texas inshore salts. Fish that fit the trophy requirements of most anglers probably come fewer than one in a million. If thirty inches or ten pounds are the barriers for qualification you might be talking one in ten million. Only a tiny fraction of fishermen who spend a lifetime in the chase ever get one. A speck that lives long enough to attain trophy proportions has eluded tons of hooks and predators to get there. Hence, the uncommon value placed on these great fish.

So now for the naming of them trout inspire us, so we naturally conjure a host of names to apply to them. Many a tale has been spun about Ol' Yellow Mouth, which is easy to understand. Lots of fishermen refer to them as "sows" which is also easy to understand in that the sow is the distaff member of the swine family and trophy trout often grow as fat as pigs. Other names I've heard are lunker, gorilla, and mule. The mule designation being more common in Louisiana than Texas and descriptively conferred the same as bull red and horse mullet.

Now all of this is good and acceptable to me so far, but there are some names and terminology used to describe big trout that just absolutely make the hair stand on the back of my neck. Lately, it has evidently become fashionable in some circles to refer to big trout, especially trophy trout, as "big girls" or worse "fat girls." The next time I read or hear somebody crowing about their upcoming trip to Baffin as, "going down to chase the fat girls," I think I'll just go ahead and puke. That's how bad it irritates me.

So if the coming of a New Year is the time for making changes, I am asking for one. I'm asking all the fishermen, the guides and the writers to become more creative and selective in their terminologies. I'm asking that we put the "big girls" and "fat girls" to bed. And before anybody starts jumping up and down yapping that I've yielded to political correctness, forget it it ain't gonna happen that easy. I just don't like those two names being applied to trophy trout. And while you're at it, you can throw "Susie" in there with them.