Davenport 'Fish Guy' Takes An Unexpected Plunge Into Social Media Fame After Going Viral For Carrying 40-Pound Fish

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
April 06, 2019 - 11:55 am

Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa


DAVENPORT, IA (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Social media has been fishy lately, but not due to a technical problem. A Davenport man has gone viral after carrying a 40-pound fish through the downtown area, sparking comical memes and a jump into the celebrity pool. 

According to the Quad City Times, it was just another day on March 30 when Peter Robinson, 33, was hanging with his friends down at the Mississippi river. He told the Times that he and his friends saw the fish in the water; he picked it up because it seemed to be dying. His plans were to go to a friend's house and cut it up with a fillet knife. It's not clear if he knew picking up a fish with bare hands is illegal, but he was later charged for "noodling," according to WQAD-CBS Channel 8. 

That didn't stop the internet from giving Robinson a taste of fame and recognition. Residents captured Robinson walking around with the big fish like he was carrying a bag of groceries — and that is what might have happened to it. After Robinson's friend did not have a fillet knife, he gave the fish to a stranger on the street, who took it to Johnnie’s Meat Market, Davenport, where it yielded 20 pounds of meat. 

He then checked social media and saw his image everywhere, and people had reached out to him about the scene.

“I was literally a homeless nobody,” Robinson told the Times. “I was surprised people knew my name outside my circle.”

Robinson, originally from Grand Mound, Iowa, has lived in Davenport for a long time, where he continues to couch surf – “ a couch here, a couch there, couches everywhere,” he joked.

Since then, he has become known as the "fish guy" and has been a symbol of comical relief, appreciation and helping out the community. He has appeared on multiple TV shows, podcasts and interviews, such as a podcast called Dwyer & Michaels

And of course, because it's the 21st century, Robinson is now a meme. He said he did not expect the attention or to go viral at all, but his feel-good story and humor spread quickly into memes. 

In his hometown, he is getting more than fame. Bill Sheeder, owner of Baked Beer & Bread Co.,  will present Robinson with a monetary gift.

“I saw the memes online and saw the pictures,” Sheeder told the Times. “The memes are just funny.” 

He reached out to Robinson, and helped him for a few days by having a Fish Fry for the Fish Guy during the week. He also gave him a certificate to dine at his restaurant, where other diners enjoyed visiting with Robinson.

“I at least wanted to buy him a fish dinner,” Sheeder said. “Everybody got a kick out him."