Who is Tina?

It was a typical day at the fish hatchery. Fish roe and milt were stripped from live fish using compressed air. Before fertilization, the eggs are first disinfected because of concerns for disease. They are then moved into special tanks where they hatch into baby rainbow trout. Something happened on this day that no one ever noticed. One of those fish eggs mutated.

Did it have something to do with the treatment process for disease? Was something else introduced by accident? Did some kind of green ooze leak into the tank? Are we witnessing the first ever mutant ninja rainbow trout? Whatever it was that happened – on this day, Tina was born.

This is not Tina, but possibly an answer to another question:

Some people believe Tina is the the result of some transgenic trout experiment gone wrong.

Some people believe Tina is the result of a transgenic trout experiment gone wrong. (Researchers have developed transgenic rainbow trout with enhanced muscle growth that results in fish with what have been described as six-pack abs and muscular shoulders.)

My friend Mitch and I were sitting on some late ice early this spring sight fishing for these big Lake Superior rainbow trout when we first met her. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Very slowly she just coasted through the water underneath us. An enormous mutant. She must have been 12″ tall or more and well over 30″ long. Her belly was so wide and saggy it ballooned out wider than her back so when you looked straight down at her she just looked goofy. There was clearly something different about this fish besides her unnatural proportions. She did not look or behave like a normal hatchery trout. It was clear that she had a higher brain function than any other fish. This was Tina.

There are rumors that Tina was born with two heads and after one head fell off, she was left with twice the brain power and twice the normal body size of any other trout.

There are rumors that Tina was born with two heads and after one head fell off, she was left with twice the brain power and twice the normal body size of any other trout.

Again and again, she would circle through and slowly coast circles around our presentations without even moving a fin or tail. Already, each of us had iced a couple of nice rainbow trout, but Tina was too smart to fall for our tricks. Each time she came by nice and slow, she would look straight up at our presentation out of the corner of her eye – almost head cocked like a curious bird – studying them very closely. I wonder now if she was looking straight up through the gaping hole in the ice and studying me, looking me right in the eye.

We tried every dirty trick we new at the time to try to coax Tina to bite, but each time she would just study everything very slowly and deliberately. We ended the day with more questions than answers. And I have since made it my goal for this season to find Tina.

I know I have been close. Below you will find pictures of Helga and Henry – both large fish who were in cahoots with Tina and caught in recent week. They were interrogated at length as to Tina’s whereabouts. All that we could get out of them was that they knew Tina and she was still out there somewhere close by. Henry and Helga did not get the chance to go back and warn Tina. I’m not taking any chances. I will find her. If not this year then next when she continues to grow even more massive and further mutate.

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