People often anthropomorphize. Which means, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “attributing human personality to things not human.” But do fish have personalities? During a recent road trip, my kids posed the question: “If you could be any fish what would you be?”

angler is confronted by fish with personalities
Do fish have personalities? | Illustration: Lorenzo del Bianco

It was a long road trip. As I drove on, the road turned into a river of asphalt and I imagined my favorite fish species as characters I might meet at Walmart.

Do Fish Have Personalities?

Largemouth Bass

Loud, popular, independent, Type A. Appreciates a stable home life but enjoys road trips. Patronizes movies with car chases. Devoted to Taco Tuesday and delivery pizza.

crappie fish
Does this fish have a crappie personality? | Photo: Eric Engbretson/Wikimedia Commons


Quiet but extremely social. Starts the murmur in a crowd. Sensitive. Knows how to accessorize. Clips coupons. Chews gum. Takes tour buses.


Ill-tempered. Carries a knife. Sits in the back of the room and makes everyone nervous. If a pike starred in a movie, the holster-wearing fish would be a mysterious gun slinger with an eye patch who rolls into town late, kicks open the doors of the saloon, bangs his fist on bar and says, “Give me the bottle.”

Channel Catfish

Strong-willed, patient, not afraid to get dirty. Likes country music, NASCAR, and “townie” bars. Wears flannel shirts and denim jeans but is able to blend in anywhere. Enjoys eating strange food on a dare, but also has impressive skill as a sommelier.

bluegill fish
Persistent, particular, a stickler for detail. | Photo: Scott Harden/Wikimedia Commons


Persistent, particular. Great attention to detail. Drinks hot tea. Frequently observed waxing a Subaru in the driveway. Never stops talking, even if alone.

Smallmouth Bass

Competitive, ambitious, tenacious. Enters athletic events on a whim. Generally, has a wingman. Can be distrusting and surly. Skilled at changing tires. Prone to a gambling addiction. Constantly snacking on jerky.

Bullhead Catfish

Always hungry. Selfish, candid, abrasive. Hard to handle when left to own devices. Often in overalls. Attends biker rallies. Has a record of drunk and disorderly conduct. Orders any food on a stick.

Striped Bass

An adventuresome traveler. Drives a massive black SUV. Often says, “Hold my beer and watch this.” Picks up the check, no matter how large the dinner party.

rainbow trout
Enjoys reading gossip magazines? | Photo: Kelly L/Pexels

Rainbow Trout

Into flashy fashion. Easily influenced by the latest trend. Enjoys ski jumping, horseback riding and reading gossip magazines. Doesn’t remove the umbrella from frozen drinks.


Edgy, aloof, eccentric. Quick to clinch fists, but bark is worse than bite. Firmly narrow-minded. Holds a membership to an exclusive club frequenting Renaissance fairs and progressive-party dinners.


Secretive. Mysterious. Orders the steak so big if you finish eating it’s free. Insists the steak is cooked rare. After polishing off the slab of beef, continues to eat a dinner salad, loaded baked potato, a basket of rolls (including the basket) and then flips the table. Binge watches dark crime shows, cancels cable subscription, then renews again the following month.


Textual, messy, laid back, passive, clumsy. Surprisingly skilled with a Frisbee or burying “treys” on the basketball court. Often underestimated. Can be found wearing a BBQ stained T- shirt while tanning in lawn chair at a trailer park bragging about his overseas investments doing quite well.

White Bass

A complete punk. Travels with a posse. Hits first, asks later. Has a problem with authority. Always looking at his cell phone.

Green Sunfish

Takes a French fry off your plates, throws it in the air and catches it in his mouth. Makes armpit noises when conversation lags. Reads comic books. Usually wearing headphones around neck and sunglasses perched on top of his head.

Wears a bathrobe and slippers everywhere. | Photo: Denise H/Pexels

Flathead Catfish

Couch potato. Suffers from sleep apnea. Does not understand the concept of “leftovers.” Wears a bathrobe and slippers everywhere. Frequents bowling alleys, demolition derbies and all-night convenience stores where they sell burritos under a heat lamp.

“If you could be any fish what would you be?”

There are, of course, many characters I haven’t met. As I target different species and explore new places, I try to get into the fish’s mind. Each time I catch a fish, the flippy creature’s personality captures me too. And, if the fish outsmarts me, it’s easier to take if the pea-brained adversary is on my level.

“You are what you catch,” I think I heard my psychology professor say. I can’t be sure, I was sitting in the back of the room.

This article was first published in the Summer 2019 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

You are what you catch, or maybe what you catch is you? | Feature photo: Adobe Stock



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