I’ve caught thousands of Greenback Cutthroat trout in my life, but it turns out that I haven’t.
My dad and I spend a solid portion of every year traipsing around the rockies and stalking the gorgeous red-bellied beasts. But, recently, I guess, we have discovered that whoever had originally decided we were catching Greenbacks was mistaken. It turns out that way back, when they started stocking these fish around the general area, they grabbed the wrong species, or DNA strain, or whatever, and we’ve all been catching Colorado River Cutthroats and thinking they were Greenbacks ever since. Apparently, there’s a drainage not too far from here where we can go to catch the real thing, and maybe I’ll do that if for no other reason than a change of scenery…
Anyway, I can’t say that I’m at all distraught, and in fact I’m actually kind of amused. It really doesn’t remove any of the joy I’ve experienced in fishing for these fish; it doesn’t matter what they’re called. I think Shakespeare may have said something about names at one point in history…
And this is just one small example of buffoonery by the community we call “scientists.” While there are, I’m sure, a few great, honest, humble professionals out there who we might categorize as “scientists,” all too often what I experience is a body of people drunk on what they perceive to be superior intelligence to the “rest of us,” and it’s nice for them to be reminded of how utterly human they really are. Little things like this are a microcosm of the larger details which can–and surely do–get missed in the grand scheme of things which are much more important than the name of a fish.
One hundred years ago, one guy stuck a fish in a trough and assured another guy that it was a Greenback. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of people–maybe even millions– have caught Greenback Cutthroats throughout our Rocky Mountain waterways. That’s a fact. Except it isn’t.
Think about that the next time you think you know something just because you read it on a placard or because your high school science teacher told you so.
Then, go fishing.