Walleye record hoax or Real
The promised world record for walleye, captured by Mabry Harper in 1960 and allegedly 25 pounds, is a hoax. The promised measurements, 41″ in length and 29″ in girth, would make the fish 43.1 pounds! Evaluation of photographic evidence indicates the fish was considerably shorter and weighed less than 18 pounds
During my 16 year career as a fisheries biologist and overseer of the Minnesota record-fish plan, I managed hundreds if large walleyes and became quite adept at visually judging weight. Initially that I saw an image of Mabry Harper holding up his “world record” walleye I recall thinking: “That fish can not weigh 25 pound.” I still do not purchase the record, and neither should anyone else. Here’s why.
The Fishy Facts
Harper asserted the fish he got in Old Hickory Lake, Tenn., on Aug. 2, 1960, was 41 inches long and had a girth of 29 inches. The official weigh in was ran by Bob Miles, attendant at the 2nd Creek Boat Dock, who place the fish’s weight at 25 lbs. 4 oz. There were no other witnesses to the weigh in and Tennessee wildlife officials could not confirm the amounts because by the time they got a look at it, the fish was prepared for dunking in tartar sauce. They did, however, scrutinize the scale, found it to be four oz hefty and fixed the official weight to 25 pounds even.
But Harper’s story still does not wash. Fisheries biologists utilise a typical formula for computing a walleye weight using its length and girth measurements:
- Span (inches) x Girth [(inches).sup.2] / 800 = Weight (pounds)
- The formula is unusually precise, however when you plug in Harper’s amounts the equation goes haywire:
- 41 x [29.sup.2] / 800 = 43.10 pounds
- A 43.1-pound walleye? That outlandish figure set in motion my hunt for the truth utilizing the sole bit of present evidence–Harper’s picture.
Fingers Do the Talking
first, to ascertain the fish’s real span, I enlarged the picture and quantified the picture , using millimetres for truth. Subsequently I found something that might be utilized to confirm scale–the four fingers of Harper’s right hand, which are plainly observable on the exact same plane as the fish. Then I set up the following formula:
Photograph hand-width/Picture fish span = Real bandwidth/Real fish span
To figure out the real fish span, it is crucial to be aware of the width of Harper’s hand, which–short of exhumation–isn’t accessible. while I hold my hand in precisely the same place as Harper’s (with three fingers together and the index finger spread about 1/4 inch) it measures 3 3/4 inches across the first finger joints. But I have big hands: I wear extra large gloves and can palm a basketball. So to get a more realistic average I attempted something similar on 15 male friends. Most quantified from 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 inches, the biggest being just shy of four inches–the estimated width of Harper’s hand–and 4 inches–in case he possessed the hands of a defensive lineman:
- 17.3 mm/149 millimeter = 3.5 inches/x x = 30.14 inches
- 17.3 mm/149 = 4.0 inches/x x = 34.45 inches
Even if Harper had very big hands, his walleye might have quantified 34.45 inches long. Harper’s hand would have had to be a Goliath-like 4.7 inches broad in order for the fish to quantify the claimed 41 inches long. Again, I found just one person whose hand even approached four inches; he weighs about 220 pounds and has “meat hooks” for control. In the picture, Harper seems to really have a slender physique and his hands seem pretty ordinary, so I am assured that any “fat hands” chance could be ruled out.
Benefit of the Doubt
that makes just two variables which could make Harper’s fish longer than it seems in the picture: 1) the amount of sag within the body of the fish; or 2) the chance the fish wasn’t held parallel to the camera lens. To discover how body sag may have changed the span, I put a cord along the curvature of the fish in the picture . It quantified 152 mm, or 3 millimeters longer in relation to the straight line length measurement.
Utilizing the preceding formulas, that bumps up the derived fish spans by nearly three quarters of an inch, to 30.75 (assuming a 3 1/2-inch-broad hand) and 35.14 inches (4-inch hand). That takes good care of the perpendicular sag, but let us say the abdomen was sagging horizontally (or toward the camera) as well. To compensate for that chance, we will add another 3 millimeters, increasing the computed lengths to 31.36 and 35.84 inches, respectively.
When it comes to camera angle, the fish seems to be nearly parallel to the camera. But for the sake of argument, let us say the fish’s tail was skewed 10 degrees away from the camera (Fig. 2). Subsequently, some basic trigonometry shows that a 31.36-inch walleye would actually measure 31.84 inches; a 35.84-incher, 36.69 inches.
That does it for the span–the longest Harper’s fish could have quantified, making generous allowances for tail compression, camera angle, body sag and an abnormally broad hand, is 36.39 inches. When it comes to girth, we’ve got no method of ascertaining that, but Harper’s fish seems to have been in regular state. If anything, it seems a bit on the scrawny side–it was a summer fish got nicely following the spawn.
But let us suppose the usual girth after which let us use the following normal biological formula for ascertaining walleye weight when a girth measurement isn’t accessible:
- Span [(inches).sup.3]/2700 = Weight (pounds)
- Using this formula, the weight for the 31.84-inch fish would be:
- [31.84.sup.3]/2700 = 11.96 pounds
- For the 36.39-inch fish it’d be:
- [36.39.sup.3]/2700 = 17.85 pounds
My reckoning is the fact that the real weight of Harper’s fish falls somewhere between both of these approximations, closer to the latter. But that is practically immaterial. The actual decision is this: There Is no way Harper’s fish might have weighed 25 pounds.
Should you doubt the cogency of establishing a fish’s length by making use of a photography, remain with me. I enlarged two pictures of walleyes which were held by anglers in substantially the same way as Harper held his. One picture was of myself with a 32 1/2-inch walleye, the other of a shop worker holding up a replica of Harper’s world record that is on display at Holiday Sports in Fridley, Minn. In both cases the holder’s real hand width was understood exactly, and stopping up those amounts into the formula created span measurements that came within an inch of the real fish span. The formula works.
But actually, all you living to do is look in the replica (reverse, top right). It is clearly bigger than Harper’s fish; yet, its measurements are significantly less in relation to the ones Harper promised for his fish. The replica is 3 inches shorter (38 versus 41 inches) and 1 1/2 inches less in girth (27.5 vs 29 inches). In case the replica was made to match the promised measurements, it’d have resembled a prize king salmon.
Therefore, if Harper does not hold the walleye record, who does? That distinction ought to go to Al Nelson, whose 22 lb. 11 oz. fish was captured in Greer’s Ferry Lake, Ark., on March 14, 1982. But that is for the International Game Fish Association to determine. Photographic signs lately led to invalidation of the old 69 lb. 15 oz. muskie record type the St. Lawrence River, and the signs here is no less persuasive. The walleye record is a hoax.
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