A v shaped wake followed me out into the deep end of the lake. I knew it was Moby Pick. I sized up the situation and my chances. I figured it was a good idea to hook him with the lure. That way he couldn’t get away. Plus, it would be a great story to tell granddad if I came home and said I hooked a fish so big that it stole my pole. He’d love a story like that one, especially if it was true. I stopped rowing and hauled in the oars and dropped anchor. I figured that might tire Moby Pick out a bit sooner. The anchor never hit bottom. I was in deep water. Moby Pick would have a lot of room to gain speed and momentum for his dreaded leaps.
I sat in the front of the boat. I remembered that from Moby Dick. That’s where all the harpoonists are stationed. From that point, if the fish starts to pull, the boat has less of a chance to swamp. I cast the spoon lure out off the port bow about ten yards. I let it sink a bit and then proceeded to slowly wind it in and back to the boat. I held the pole as hard as my ten year old arms could manage. I was wondering if at days end that I’d even have arms or even a throat. I wouldn’t have long to wait. A row of bubbles surfaced and told me that something was going to where I figured the lure should be. The line suddenly went tight. It actually buzzed. Spray bounced off it and onto my face. The fight was on.
I hollered and held on tight. The bow of the boat turned to starboard or, was it to port. I don’t remember. All I knew was that I’d never seen a fish move a boat before and I’ve never had since. Moby Pick actually moved the boat about ten feet to the west south west and then he dove. The end of granddads pole went into the water right up to the handle. My arms were in the water up to my elbows when the tension just stopped. The line went limp.
At first, I thought that the tug of war between us had just broken the line. Then, another thought came my way. There was a much more sinister reality coming to my mind. What if Moby Pick wasn’t hooked at all? What if he was just tugging on the lure without being hooked? He’d lure my hands into the water and then wait a second or two and then, Pow! I pulled my two hands out of the lake just in time to see Moby Pick come out of the depths jaws open wide. My hands hit the surface and continued to rise and part away from each other. The fish breeched right between them. He couldn’t decide which hand to bite so, he missed them both. For my part, the momentum of moving my hands apart and to safety kept me from catching this fish from hell. We were both within grasp of each other but, we missed our chance. The first round was a draw. Moby went into the dark depths. I grabbed my pole.
I sat back on the oarsman seat to catch my breath. The net sortie could come from any direction. I just kept revolving my head like a lighthouse beacon. I figured the next wave would come from port or starboard. I was wrong. Without any warning and from the stern, I heard his evil hiss and that gaping mouth open wide as he literally flew over the helmsman seat and back into the water off the port oarlock. What was he up to just then I wondered. He didn’t have a chance of getting me by the throat just then. Then it hit me. That wasn’t an attack at all. That was just a look around. He was down below thinking and sorting out what he saw.
It was just a minute or less when I could hear those bubbles again and that hiss. He was coming towards the stern again. But, this time he came straight up from mid stern and didn’t jump that hard. I thought maybe he was getting tired but no, he was getting smarter. The weaker jump put him right on the deck of the rowboat just in front of my feet, my bare feet. He flopped closer to me and chomped on my left big toe. Then he took a hunk out of the pinky toe on my right foot. As I was holding my feet he flopped back into the water. This was one smart fish is all I can say. I had to think harder or it was curtains for me. That first time was just my toes. The next time would be my juggler vein. If that happened I’d be invited to a fish dinner on the wrong side of the frying pan. I had to think of something. But, what? Then it hit me.