We had been fishing all day in the heat and humidity. I had spent the day casting about for a variety of things, including a few trees, weeds and muck, and a lot of Elodea. I had just found the perfect place in the shady spot, with cattails off to one side and a nice open spot of water in front of me. A few fish were still jumping even in the heat of the afternoon. The cicadas were buzzing in the tall walnut and oak trees behind me. I cast my line, sighed and stretched out in my lawn chair, tossing my head back and looking straight up at the tree-dappled light before closing my eyes in a delicious peace.
Suddenly my rod jerked. I sat up straight. “Where’s my bobber?!”
My pole was bending and my line was taught in the water. I started winding, and winding, and winding. The line was slipping.
“Have I caught something?”
“I don’t know.” My husband answered, “Keep reeling.”
“I am. Whatever it is, it’s strong.”
I kept winding.
“It’s probably a log. No, wait, did you see that?” I asked incredulously after getting a brief glimpse of a white fishy mouth. “It’s big.”
“Yeah, and I left the net in the car. Keep reeling.”
My husband peered over my shoulder into the water beyond. I kept winding; the line kept slipping.
“What is it? What is it? Did you catch dinner?” My daughter jumped up and down.
“I don’t know, but it’s huge.” (Hmm—big to huge in less than a minute.)
We got another glimpse. “Could be a bass. I’ll go get the net. Keep him in the water; I’m afraid your line will break.”
I kept winding, and our catch ended up in the shallows in front of me and our daughter. It was a catfish, a very unhappy catfish to be tethered on a leash and unable to swim away.
“What is it? Do you still have it?” My husband asked, returning with the net.
“It’s a catfish.”
We netted it, and my husband got the camera because (of course) the most important thing about catching a very large fish is the photographic record you leave behind. When I lifted my line to hold up my bounty, the hook slipped from its mouth, and the catfish fell back into the net.
The pictures would all be of a fish in a net.
“Do you want to keep him?” my husband asked.
“Yes!” my daughter cried, “Let’s keep him as a pet.”
“Where would we keep a fish this tremendous?” I asked, and then I turned to my husband, “No. I really don’t want to figure out how to clean him. Let him swim away home.
So we lowered the net back into the lake. It took a few minutes for him to recover, but he did and soon he was off, tail swishing madly—like a cat that had escaped the indignity of a leash. A very large cat of course. Simply humongous. As a matter of fact that catfish was so big that we couldn’t even email the digital photos we took—that fish took up so many pixels.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.