For these trout-toting Romeos, it could soon be love at first bite.
Dating apps have served a smorgasbord of swoon-inducing male suitors of late — with profile pics that highlight the latest turn-ons, from chicken parm-wielding charmers and “Machu men” mountaineers to West Elm Caleb’s shady promise of mid-century modern bliss .
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a new trend has been netting the ladies’ attention: the big fish flaunter.
These bass-anovas are inundating singles with profile pics of prized hauls from bluegills to bass — and many grouper groupies are swallowing the fin-omenon hook, line and sinker.
Now, women are debating whether the ubiquitous fish photos are the next big catch on dating apps — or a symptom of toxic masculinity.
“One day, I’m on an app [Bumble], out of 25 swipes, 10 of the peeps were holding fish,” Elizabeth Hlotyak, 47, a freelance photographer from White Plains, told The Post. She began to suspect this was a fishy new dating trend.
And new survey numbers appear to back up Hlotyak’s theory: The angling app Fishbrain analyzed the Tinder profiles of 100 young men in Virginia (ages 18 to 25) — and found that a whopping 42% opted to include one pic featuring themselves hoisting a recently caught fish (a prior survey found that 8% of New York dating profiles featured a fish, and 22% for Florida).
“It has definitely played a part in whether we choose to swipe right,” Camille, a member of the Tri Delta sorority at Virginia Tech, told The Post, declining to give her last name or age for privacy reasons. She’s of one many surveyed sorority gals who reported seeing “loads of guys showing off their fish every time” she logs onto Tinder and other dating platforms.
Melissa Hobley, CMO of the leading dating app OkCupid, told The Post she’s “definitely seen an uptick in professional fishermen being more popular on OkCupid.”
The trend coincides with a nationwide increase in anglers putting lines in the water — a practice dubbed “social fishtancing” following many people’s scrambles to find COVID-safe activities during the pandemic.
And this unorthodox date bait is apparently a point of attraction: The new Fishbrain survey found that more than one in seven (roughly 15%) of 235 Tri Delta sisters saw men who posed with recently caught fish on Tinder as more attractive than those who did not. Also, per a prior Facebook survey of 1,000 Florida sorority members, 46% of young American women in their late teens and early- to mid-twenties actually prefer the former.
What’s the allure of a guy toting a trophy catch? Camille explained: “It makes men seem more athletic and powerful.”
“Maybe it correlates to their ability as a breadwinner, but I think more likely that holding a massive fish has other connotations,” the college gal added, cheekily. “Holding a giant fish is for sure more attractive than posing with some small, dull, unimpressive catch.”
Attraction “can also depend on the type of fish, as some are definitely nicer to look at than others,” added Camille.
In order to deem which fish make men the most enticing, Fishbrain took the 2021 survey participants who preferred fish-flaunters and presented them with a lineup of anonymized dating profile images featuring different species. They then asked them to rate how much more attractive each fish made the potential match on a scale of one to 10.
The biggest catch, with a score of 6.1, was the hogfish — a colorful critter that evokes the lovechild of a snapper and a swine, growing up to 24 pounds. Despite its oddball countenance, women theoretically found this Atlantic ocean dweller appealing due to its “unusual pink and red color,” Camille said. “Also, it has a weird mouth,” she added.
Clocking in dead last at 2.3 was the striped bass — a staple of New York fishery — which weighs up to three times as much as a hogfish, but is comparatively monochromatic. It’s apparently not the size of the fish, but how you choose it.
Sam Kim, 23, an Illinois data scientist who posts fishy photos to Hinge, Tinder and Bumble, told The Post that snaps of bass and other “non-impressive fish” were ignored by potential matches. However, when the Northwestern University grad uploaded a profile pic featuring a “pretty” African pompano, he got multiple likes in one week.
Presentation and photography are also important, and several female social media users have even dedicated themselves to judging men’s fish shots like an ichthyological Westminster Kennel Club show.
“Is there anything inherently wrong with this fish? no,” wrote TikTok user @rachellloooo in a review of a fly fisherman posing with a trout. “But why must he hold as if it is a shlong?”
Determining Tinder matches by their catch-of-the-day might sound superficial. But relationship gurus believe that this behavior is rooted in the instinct to judge a potential partner’s ability to put food on the table — the logic being: the bigger the fish, the more adept its provider.
“In a time when so many men are out of touch with their masculinity, a photo of him with his big fish subconsciously signals to match that he can survive in the wild,” NYC matchmaker Amy Van Doran of the Modern Love Club told the The Post. †[It’s] a holdover from when we used to pick our mates based on survival, and who can help the child survive infantry.”
Van Doran added, “If the men really want to look sexy, they should get their photos in a cave with a loin cloth and a club.”
This perception of fish-flaunters as prehistoric stragglers has reached such a fever pitch that it was parodied in a New Yorker article: “I Am a Tinder Guy Holding a Fish and I Will Provide for You,” which includes the perennial line: “I will provide you with many orgasms and sea bass.”
However, not all woman are as smitten, with many believing that the trend is emblematic of toxic bass-culinity.
“They are a hallmark of a certain type of dude: bro-y, wants to seem outdoorsy and a ‘manly man,’” a 33-year-old attorney, who’s chosen to remain anonymous, told The Post. “I think there is probably some psychological explanation, like they are trying to show they can provide or something, but I don’t think they think it through that hard.”
The North Carolina resident continued, “I also grew up in the South and the people who went fishing frequently were generally gun-toting republican types that are not the people I want to spend my life with. So I may have bad connotations from my upbringing. Overall, I think it ties into toxic masculinity in a way that I find off-putting and unattractive.”
In fact, even some female anglers are baffled by them. “Nothing wrong with fishing, I love to go fishing. I just don’t get [fish in profile pics],” added Hlotyak, who pointed out that it’s a running joke amongst her friends. She recalled reaching out to one such angler on Bumble, only to cut bait after he started sending her random “videos of him pulling in marlin off the Gulf of Mexico.”
Fortunately, not all fishermen post bass snaps to stroke their egos.
“I use fish pics because I’m usually happiest in them,” said John Prioli, a North Carolina native and 15-year fishing veteran, told the Cut in a 2018 interview† “It’s the culmination of waking up early (or going out late), busting your ass to get out there, bringing the right gear, presenting the fish with the right bait or lure in the right place and time and finally just being able to hold the animal for a while and take a photo.”
Meanwhile, environmentalist AJ Scheff said he simply “wanted to make my hobby known in hopes to find someone who also enjoys it as much as me.”
“At the very least, that’s a cool photo that tees up an ice breaker on any dating app,” said OKCupid’s Melissa Hobley.