Posted on Sat, Feb. 05, 2005
Getting high off fish goo a hoax
By Tony Bridges
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
OK, listen up catfish lickers.
You've been punked. There's no hallucinogen in the slime.
A Florida magazine editor said he made the story up five years ago for an annual April Fool's special - and somehow it just kept on going.
"It's scary how easy it is to start an urban legend," said Doug Olander, editor-in-chief of Sport Fishing magazine.
His April 2000 piece was plenty goofy enough to tip off readers.
He claimed the catfish goop was popular among college kids, who called themselves "slimers" and paid as much as $200 for a fresh catch.
The slime was supposed to produce a "whisker-lickin' good" trip that would give users the sensation of being under water.
He attributed the information to University of Florida scientist Dr. Benjamin Joon.
As in "Benny & Joon," the romantic comedy with Johnny Depp.
"We have no idea who in the world first thought of this - maybe some young angler who handled a 'sailcat,' then happened to put a finger in his mouth," the doctor supposedly said.
Apparently, not everyone got the joke.
The magazine got calls and letters from confused readers, including one who'd tried to reach Dr. Joon and couldn't.
But that wasn't the least of it.
The story spread and - five years later - is still circulating around the Gulf Coast. As the Tallahassee Democrat reported last week, everyone from weekend anglers to fish doctors seems to have heard it.
A couple were even curious enough to try the slime.
One of them was Jack Rudloe, director of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory.
No regrets over that, he said.
"Then again, I eat everything," he said - ticking off a list of meals that have included cobra, mule and worms.
He figures the fish-slime story is here for good.
"I suspect that even if you expose it for all that it is, it's not going to stop the myth," Rudloe said. "People want it to be true."
Olander has gotten a kick out of the whole thing.
"I'm flattered," he said. "May there be more."
Meanwhile, he's working on the next prank, due out the end of next month.
His plans are top secret.
But here's a hint: It'll have something to do with fish.
This April 2000 edition of
Sport Fishing magazine hatched the catfish-slime myth.