When I was a boy, I loved to fish for catfish.
Back then we didn’t have all these fancy rod and reels people has got today. When we would go fishing we’d fill our pockets with bolts and nuts for weights and had a metal tackle box full of rusty hooks and several rolls of that old black nylon fishing line. Then we’d head on down to the Pee Dee River to cut down several bamboo reeds for fishing poles and dig a bucket of Georgia wigglers for bait. We didn’t even have a fish stringer. When we caught a bunch of fish, we’d cut off a tree limb that had a fork on it and just string them old catfish on down the limb. Then we’d head out for the house to clean the fish and get them prepared for the frying pan.
I remember one time back in fifty eight there’d been a gully washing rain up the river one night. The next morning my friend Bubba and I decided we’d go wet a hook cause you know catfish bite mighty good after a big rain. We got our fishing stuff together and made a bee line to the river.
Well, when we got to the river there were logs floating down the river bigger than a man’s leg and the river was a rising. Something just told me, this fishing trip would be something to remember. Ya’ll ever have this type of a feeling? We set right to work cutting down bamboo poles and digging them Georgia wigglers.
After we done dug us some worms we started up the side of the river. Back then there were paths leading up and down beside the river. I reckon the Indians or buffalo done made them paths. When we got to our first fishing hole there was our neighbor, Catfish John, already set up a fishing. Why there won’t nobody liked to catfish better than us, except Ol’ John.
I says to him, “John you caught anything yet?” He says, “Well I’s done caught enough to make the pan stink, but I’s ain’t caught Ol’ Whiskers yet.”
Let me tell you a little about Ol’ Whiskers. Why, this monster catfish was a legend round our parts. Old folks say that the reason the river was so deep there cause Ol’s Whiskers done wallowed it right out. Says he’s got two sparkling eyes as big as the sun and horns coming out the side of his head as big as trees. Why, some folks say he looks like the Devil himself. A lot of people hung Ol’ Whiskers but nobody, nobody ever put him on the bank.
We got through talking with John and headed on up the river to another fishing hole. When we got there we fixed up our poles, and I put a big gob of wigglers on my hook. I then tossed the bait in the water underneath a willow tree. Won’t long I done got myself a bite. I pulled back on that bamboo pole and pulled in the longest eel I reckon I’d ever seen. Why, that eel was at least five feet long. If you ever caught an eel you know them is the slickest and slimmest thing the Good Lord ever made. I didn’t want that mess all over me so I just pitched pole and all under that willow tree and went back to fishing with another pole. That eel couldn’t be still and he done wrapped himself around that willow tree and was a dangling in the water.
We were catching some nice catfish when all of a sudden they just quite biting. Now that’s when we heard Ol’s John down the river hollering toward us.
He says, “Boys, boys, look out in the river, there’s something big headed ya’ll way.”
We looked and coming right toward us was this big wake of water. We’d never seen such a sight so we jumped behind some trees.
Now what happened next was a sight to behold, but ya’ll have to wait til next week for the rest of the story!