Before today, she could only imagine the excitement!

I have taken Ellen fishing many times over the past year, but today was special. She moved to my swamp nearly two years ago along the Guadalupe River on the Texas Gulf Coast. Never having the opportunity to go fishing anytime she wanted, Ellen and I now go nearly every week. Today is Mother’s Day and she wanted to go. The weather was perfect and she was in the mood.

We headed upstream and I picked what looked like a good spot. Ellen got her line in the water first and on the first cast she caught a nice blue cat. I gave her a smile and a high-five. She almost immediately caught the second fish.

I have fished this river most of my life and have caught more fish than I can count. I’ve told Ellen numerous stories about ‘pole benders’, and while the fish she have caught have been legal and fun for her to catch, the largest only weighed about five pounds. These are good eating size, but none have been what I consider large.

After Ellen had caught eight or so fish while I had caught only two, she hooked into yet another one. She yanked hard on her rod and started to reel it in, but when the line tightened up, her pole bent sharply and the line stopped. It wouldn’t budge.

“I’m hung up,” she said, disappointed.

We have a lot of logs and branches in our river, so getting hung up happens fairly often. If it’s a bad snag it usually means you have to cut your line and re-do your tackle.

Ellen pulled hard and held a strain on the line, but it was definitely stuck. She let some line spool off hoping the current would carry the line downstream and pull her off the log. A few moments later, she tried to reel the line in again— it was definitely stuck. But wait! The snag didn’t seem to be in the same spot as before! Then it started moving slowly upstream!

As she held the line taut, the log was moving against the current. How was this possible? With her rod doubled over we realized that was no log. She had hooked into a monster! I had the dip net ready, but the creature did not surface and continued away from us. Her pole bent even more, line pulled against the drag, and started spooling off the reel.

“It’s gigantic! It’s going to break my pole,” she yelled, her eyes popping wide open and her mouth gaping. “Help me!!”

“I can’t do anything better than what you’re doing,” I said.

She held on for dear life as whatever she had on the end of her line turned and headed downstream, strong and steady. It was just going. This fish was unstoppable.

Suddenly, the line went slack. Ellen reeled it in. The hook and sinker were still attached, but the fish got away. We would like to have seen what she tangled with, but that will be a mystery forever. There were really only two things it could have been. From my experience fishing this river, I am guessing it was a large yellow cat, or flathead catfish.

The other option is a gar. We had seen some large gar all morning, but to me, it didn’t quite act like one. I’m still guessing it was a 40- to 50-pound catfish.

Though Ellen did not land the fish, she did get to feel the power of what I call a ‘pole bender’. The excitement was like no other she had ever felt. One day, she will get the chance to once again feel the awesome power of a big monster. I can’t wait for the day I see that look on her face one more time. Experiences like this are worth their weight in gold.

Do you like my short stories? Try one of my long stories . . . my Four Seasons Series of books and more. Larry Landgraf’s books