Who was the first fisherman and how did he fish? Was there any honesty in his yarns he spun? No doubt, these questions may never be answered. The first fish story was told very long ago, and in all probability early mankind were fishermen.
True, the whale is not a fish, but, on the other hand higher criticism assures us that the fish in question wasn’t a whale. Carl Linnaeus tells us it was the great white shark. No fish story has been so widely circulated and universally believed as this one. The people throughout of the ages have accepted it without question. Once in a while some misguided scientist with a stunted imagination pops up and attempts to show that the throat of a whale is too small to swallow a man, that a shark is too vicious to swallow him whole, and that in either case he’d be smothered in a few seconds. Such persons are swept to the side by the faith of the millions who’ve heard it from their grandfathers and have prided themselves on their power to reduce Oriental imagery to plain terms of everyday life. Jonah’s experience with the whale is often cited as an illustration to point out a moral to the story. No true fisherman is going to dispute this! So, it can probably be said that Jonah is really the father of the modern fish story bar none.
But passing hastily from the realms of Oriental poetry and the higher criticism, we may note that Shakespeare loved referring to the fisherman and his catch. Accounts of Antony and Cleopatra show the basis of a fish story that’s been told over and over again. It’s said that Antony claimed to be a skillful fisherman and that Cleopatra hired a diver to dive down and fasten a dried red herring upon his hook and jerk the line. This was carried out to the letter, and when Antony landed the extraordinary fish, Cleopatra laughed. But Antony rallied, and remarked that it was not much of a catch perhaps but still it the distinction of being the oldest fish ever taken on hook and line.
And so fishing has gone on year by year and nearly every fish story is grey and wrinkled with age and can be traced back antiquity for sure…