What's With the Fish in Guys' Online Dating Profiles?

CNET's Love Syncs tackles the trout, bass and salmon of the online dating world.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
3 min read

Please take this fish as a sign of my goodwill. 

Getty Images

Welcome to CNET's Love Syncs, where we answer your questions about online dating. I'm Erin Carson, senior writer, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of odd stuff on the internet, reluctant tour guide through the swamps of dating via app.

This week: There's something fishy with online dating. 

Q: What's the deal with fish in guys' profile pics?

A: You can't tell what color Brad's eyes are. They're hidden behind a pair of mirrored Oakleys. The eyes you can see, however, are those of a large bass -- glassy, forlorn, staring into the camera as the fish's lifeless body slumps in a pair of human hands. "How did I get here?" they seem to ask, immortalized in a Tinder profile alongside the eyes of so many of its aquatic brethren. 

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"WHAT EVEN IS TINDER?" the fish asks itself as the shutter clicks. 

So yeah, the fish profile pic is definitely a thing. Why? Perhaps the answer is given to the fish as it passes into the GREAT RIVER IN THE SKY.

Most likely, it has to do with the fact that people often use lifestyle photos of themselves in their profiles. And they should! It's a great way to let a prospective match know who you are and what you're into. 

Plus, fishing is a popular pastime. So much so about 55 million Americans engaged in some form of fishing in 2020, according to database company Statista. And if you don't believe them, take note of the Tumblr "Tinder Guys Holding Fish," where you can peruse countless examples of fish and the fisherman who hooked them.

If all this sounds unfamiliar to you, you might live in a place where fishing is less common. Different regions come with different trends. You'll see more profiles with guitars in Nashville, more software engineer job titles in the Bay Area, and SO MUCH DAMN SEERSUCKER if you're swiping around in Louisville, Kentucky, during the Kentucky Derby.

Is it an extremely breathable fabric? Sure. But at what cost?

Anyway. What makes the whole dudes-with-fish situation particularly amusing are the photos where the guys seem to be offering the fish to their prospective dates, as if assuring them of their ability to one day provide for a family. When society crumbles, this Manly Man can catch dinner with an expert flick of the wrist. In reality, it's unlikely the fish is being presented as a promise of future fortune. Reader, allow me to let you in on a secret: Folks hold the fish forward to the camera because it makes the fish look bigger.

So, how should you feel about the venerable fish pic? Well, if you're outdoorsy yourself, then you've got something in common -- scales! Take your clues where you can. If the tackle box life isn't for you, maybe stay on the lookout for the kinds of photos that better match your lifestyle. 

But hey, what's more romantic than a trout who's been dispatched to meet his maker?

CNET's Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you've got a question about finding love via app, send it to erin.carson@cnet.com for consideration.