Chapter 3: Big Old Joe


"I got a bite!" scream Stephen. He fixates his attention on the fish that bit his bait. As the fish nibbled on the bait, Stephen gave a well-practiced controlled jerk of the rod. He pulled hard enough to set the hook into the mouth of the fish and quickly but steadily reeled his prey in. "Look like we got dinner" Jackie said. "What you mean we. I do not see you reeling anything in," Stephen replied. As the fish came closer to the boat, Jackie carefully scooped the nine-pound silver blue catfish out of the water. He skillfully took the hook from the mouth of the struggling fish and held it up for Stephen to see. "I got him out of the water and it is my boat. Like I said, look like we got dinner." He laughed and tossed the fish into the opened fish bucket.


With renewed anticipation, Jackie retrieved his fishing line out of the water. He carefully re-baited the hook and hurled the bait out across the water. The meal bait sailed high up in the sky. "Fore! Oh, sorry that is the wrong sport." Jackie said with a laugh. The bait landed about five feet short of the submerged tree. "That is a good spot." It took awhile to retrieve the slack in his line. By the time Jackie got his rod high in the air, the bait had sunk down about twelve feet. It sunk right where Big Old Joe was waiting for his next meal. Jackie slowed the reel to a crawl and waited. Suddenly, he felt the tension of the rod and then it happened.


The line snapped tight and the reel began to whirl loudly as the line shot out across Galloway Branch. The line grew taut and the Browning fishing rod folded and bent as Jackie perfectly set the hook in the prey\'s mouth. Big Old Joe took off for his usual race toward the bottom of the water. Stephen laughs. "Look like you\'ve got the big one!" His excitement intensified as Jackie continued to fight with his prey. He struggled to control the rapidly spinning reel. Stephen loudly hollered, "You\'ve caught Big Old Joe." He quickly stepped to the aid of his brother. "You have caught Big Old Joe," he exclaimed again. "Bring him in!"


Jackie and Big Old Joe continued to fight against each other. Each was determine to win their battle. Jackie was determined to reel in his prey. However, Big Old Joe was determining to stay in the water. They continued to fight this tug of war for fifteen minutes and Jackie was getting nowhere. Nevertheless, he was determined to bring the fish into the boat. About five more minutes into the struggle, the fish seem to be tiring and Jackie could roll some of the tight line in on the reel. Quickly, he spun the reel and watched as the form of the fish came closer to the boat.


With his left hand, Stephen gripped the handle on the rail of the Allison while extending the fish net over the water with his right hand. They could clearly see the outline of the huge fish as he came closer to the side of the boat. Suddenly, Big Old Joe stopped and retreated to the bottom of Galloway Branch. "Damn, here we go again." Jackie said. Again, the reel whirled loudly as the fish continued to struggle for its life.


By this time, the noise and excitement had attracted the attention of the other anglers on Galloway Branch. Slowly, they drifted closer to watch this epic struggle of man against beast. Some cheered as Jackie struggled to retrieve this prized catch. Other shouted instructions on how to bring the fish in. "Let him run until he is too exhausted to fight," the anglers shouted. The battle continued as the sun traveled slowly across the cloudless sky. Forty minutes pass as the battled continued and Jackie still could not bring the fish any closer to the boat.


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