Rarely do I judge a fish by a picture. I’ve seen some of truly enormous proportions look average sized after the shutter snaps, as well a few modest fish looking massive. So, I just had to delve.

In short, what I found out after nine hours of e-mails, private messaging on Facebook and phone calls was that it was all a prank pulled by Joshua Hand, a young man from Argo, Alabama. And by the way, that’s not even Hand in the photo. It’s actually a photo of fishing guide James Caldemeyer and a big bass about 10 pounds lighter than 24, out of Lake Fork, Texas that Hand pulled from the Internet. Hand went as far as to post it as his profile photo on Facebook.

What got the hoax moving was a short airing on the WBRC Fox 6’s Monday evening news out of Birmingham, Alabama. “During slow news days we ask our viewers to send us photos of their fishing and hunting trophies, and right away the photo and claim from Hand was e-mailed to us,” said Fox 6 employee Brian Pope. Pope admits he and other staff members that first saw the photo are not avid anglers; they knew it was a big fish, but then again so are others like big catfish and gar that often are e-mailed to them. They didn’t realize a 24-pound largemouth would be a world record. And so it was aired.

Since Wednesday morning, after Hand accepted my friend request on Facebook, I discovered the motivation behind his midleading photo via a posting on his wall: “That prank was for you Ryan Dunn…..R.I.P.” (In case you didn’t hear, Dunn, one of the stars of the MTV show “Jackass” and the Jackass movies, died in a fiery car crash early Monday morning.)

They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but I’m not sure this prank is Jackass-worthy.