My Practically-True Summertime Fish Story
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My brother and I have an unspoken agreement that we don’t talk about religion or politics. He leans one way, I lean the other, and it’s just much better if we limit our conversations to fishing.

So, in honor of my brother, here’s a summertime fish story that is true, for the most part, as well as I can remember it.

To begin with, I am not a lake fisherman. For some reason, I have no idea where the fish are on a lake. Besides, the water just sits there doing nothing, which is probably the reason why so many kids think fishing is boring.

No, I’m a river fisherman. Put me on a river, and I can tell you exactly where the fish are. Not only that, but the river is constantly flowing, constantly changing, so you really don’t have time to get bored.

Anyways, one summer a long time ago, my brother and I were fishing on a Colorado river, enjoying the day, probably arguing about gun control or The Dukes of Hazzard, when I threw my fishing line all the way across the river and got my lure stuck in a tree on the other side.

  
 
Since I had already lost two fishing lures that way and didn’t feel like losing yet another one, I decided to go downstream, wade across the shallows, and retrieve my lure.

At the exact moment that I was dead center in the river, the largest rainbow trout I’ve ever seen jumped from the water and snatched the hat right off the top of my head. Ate it whole, he did. And it was my favorite hat, too. My brother just stood on the riverbank, laughing at me.

“I told you these rainbows were big here,” he yelled at me. “Next one will probably swallow you whole.”

After that, I made it across the river as quickly as I could. I didn’t cotton to being bait.

I eventually found the lure, dislodged it from the branches, and was about to throw it into the water for my brother to reel in, when I had an almost brilliant idea. Since I needed to get back to the other side but had no intention of getting back into those monster trout-infested waters, I decided to hitch a ride on a huge log.

“Okay, here’s what we’ll do,” I called out to my brother. “I’ll attach the lure to the end of the log, get on top of the log, and ride it across to the other side. You just reel me in. So, what d’ya think?”

“I think you’re an idiot,” he said, “but let’s give it a go.”

I attached the lure to the end of the log, climbed on top, pushed myself away from the riverbank, and (you can see this coming, can’t you?) toppled into the water—boots, heavy coat, and all.

The flow of the river and the weight of my clothes dragged me down to the very bottom of the river, and there, right before my eyes, I saw five monster rainbow trout circling around me, trying to make up their minds whether to eat me now or save me for later. They were so big that I could have fit comfortably inside their bellies, with enough spare room for me to stand up and take an afternoon stroll. Luckily, my brother saved me before that inevitability became inevitable.

From the riverbank, my brother watched me go under the water, and without giving it a second thought, he reached his long arms beneath the water and pulled me up by the hair on my head—which explains why there’s not much left up there today, but I hold him no grudge.

At about the same time all of this was happening, my mother and aunts happened to walk upon the scene, and they couldn’t stop laughing until the next Tuesday. This day being Friday, they had a good long weekend of laughter.

I tried to explain what I had seen under the water—the five hungry monster fish looking to have me for supper—but they attributed it to brain freeze caused by cold river water, and they took no notice of anything I said after that. In fact, to this day they still don’t believe a word I say.

And that is my summertime fish story. Hope you’re having a great summer, and if not, go fishing. It might do you some good!

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