Have you heard the one about the man-eating catfish in Lake of the Ozarks?

How about the huge bull shark that was caught at Glen Elder Lake in north-central Kansas?

Or the 346-pound catfish caught in the Mississippi River?

Fake, fake, fake.

On April Fool’s Day, we salute those who make up whoppers of fish stories – and those who are gullible enough to believe them.

Facebook has become a breeding ground for fishing hoaxes that hook casual fishermen and those who have only a passing interest in the sport. But television and videos have done their part, too.

The one about the man-eating catfish? That came from an episode of the Animal Planet TV show, “River Monsters.” It featured host Jeremy Wade on the prowl for catfish big enough to eat a man. As ominous music played, he talked of drowning victims at Lake of the Ozarks that had never been recovered and jumped to the conclusion that they had been eaten by giant catfish.

He interviewed a diver who claimed to have seen catfish as big as 200 to 300 pounds below Bagnell Dam. It made for great theater. But come on, man-eating catfish at Lake of the Ozarks? I remember watching the show and laughing as Wade talked about the dangerous waters of Lake of the Ozarks as if were some jungle waterway.

That was about as believable as the Facebook post about the huge bull shark supposedly caught at Glen Elder Lake.  OK, a bull shark can survive in fresh water. But in a land-locked state like Kansas? Good one.

The post said the lake’s Fourth of July fireworks display and fish fry had been cancelled until authorities could determine if there were more sharks circling around.  Some lake-goers even fell for it, calling Kansas Wildlife and Parks offices to see if it was true.

Turns out, the picture was from Maryland, where a bull shark had been caught in Chesapeake Bay a year or so earlier.

Then there was the Facebook post showing a fisherman with a catfish reported to weigh 346 pounds that was caught out of the Mississippi River. Hundreds of Facebook users shared the “big news,” and marveled at the monstrous fish.

There was only one problem: It wasn’t true.

Oh, the fish in the picture wasn’t photoshopped. But it wasn’t caught in the Mississippi River. It was a  260-pound Wels catfish that was caught in Italy.

Other good ones:

  • A Facebook post showed a photoshopped picture of a crappie that supposedly weighed 12.4 pounds. (A good-sized crappie weighs 3 pounds; an exceptional one might tip the scales at 4 pounds.) The fish was allegedly caught on a duckling on an Arkansas farm pond.
  • Another Facebook post showed a man standing beside a bullfrog that was said to weigh 13 pounds. It took a gun to bring the giant croaker down.
  • An alligator was caught at Milford Lake in northeast Kansas, according to one Facebook post. The entry warned of the dangers of swimming in the lake. Note to lake-goers: It’s OK to dip your toes into the water.

And on and on it goes. I’ve read accounts from guys who started that fake news and how much fun they had fooling everyone.

I had two thoughts: What kind of dum-dum would find joy in causing panic at some of these lake communities? And what kind of person would be gullible enough to bite?

Still, these posts and stories are entertaining, if nothing else. Many of them are so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh.

Oh, by the way, did you hear about the 15-pound bass caught at Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend?  I’ll look into it and get back to you.


Photo: No this fish wasn’t caught on the Mississippi River. It was landed on a river in Italy.