The other night, I did battle with a megalodon-sized catfish for near abouts an hour. I thought my arms would fall off. They ached so badly I am not sure I would have minded it if they did. After all that, the cat broke off right next to the boat. I never even got to see it.

Losing a big fish is one thing. Losing a big fish without ever seeing it is soul wrenching.

Of course, I accepted the matter with my characteristic grace and good humor. My son, Matt, agrees, except for the part where I shrieked so loudly a school of stunned bait fish floated to the surface. Then apparently there was a bit of cursing for which Matt, only a student cusser at best, was educated far beyond his years. The doctor says Matt’s hair will eventually return to its natural color, but, until then, he’ll just have to live with being a white-haired twenty something. Also, Matt says I hopped around in the boat a bit after the bust off. He is prone to exaggeration, but claiming he’s seen less gyrating in a break-dance competition is a bit farfetched even for him.

Some good does actually come from never seeing the fish you lost. It is based on established principles of physics set forth by a guy named Irwin Schrodinger, who oddly enough, never fished a day in his life.

Back in the Thirties, Schrodinger escaped to Europe from Nazi Germany with his wife and pregnant girlfriend. Once free from the yolk of Hitler’s tyranny, Schrodinger, one of the greatest theoretical physicists to grace our planet and not one to squander an opportunity, immediately got down to the business of impregnating his wife. How he found time for physics is anyone’s guess.

Apparently, find it he did, because, before you could say, “Come hither,” he came up with what he called a “thought experiment” that revolutionized physics and forever changed fishing as we know it. It is called Schrodinger’s Cat and it works like this: You theoretically put a cat in a box with some poison. The cat may or may not be killed by the poison; however, it is neither dead or alive until you open the box and lay eyes on the cat. In other words, reality doesn’t manifest itself until it is witnessed by an observer.

Of course, Schrodinger doesn’t say what happens if you don’t open the box for, say, two weeks. My guess is he would have been forced to come up with the Schrodinger’s Cat Funk theory where the reality of the cat’s status is made evident to the inhaler whether the cat is observed or not.

But I digress.

In terms of fishing, Schrodinger’s thought experiment means a fish on the line can be just about any size at all until such time as it is pulled from the water and observed. A fish you never observe, such as my catfish, can be theoretically any size. In fact, it can actually gain mass and length over time. I originally thought my catfish weighed around thirty pounds. The more I think about it, though, I come to realize it was probably more along the fifty-pound range. The other day, I was telling my friend and fellow fisherman, Charles, about it and danged if the same fish had not up and ballooned to the sixty-five-pound mark by the time I finished telling the story. At this rate, my guess is it will be a state record before long.

Charles confessed he battled any number of state record fish that escaped sight unseen. We agreed it was demoralizing and there should be a fishing record book category for unlanded\unseen specimens. We plan to petition whoever it is that keeps the fishing record stats for the entry of that category. We plan to call it “The One That Got Away” record.

The problem is people like my son, Matt. I mentioned my Schrodinger’s Catfish theory to him the other day. He made a face.

“It was a big fish, Dad,” he told me. “But no way was it a state record.”

I don’t hold it against him. Physics is not his strong suite.

I also don’t care who he tells. No one is going to take a white-haired twenty something seriously.