Categorized | Article, River Stories

A Tale That Tall

A Tale That Tall

Author: Bill Prince ….

My ten year old grandson Hunter and I were rewrapping our drag chains, used to slow our canoes for fishing purposes, with duct tape and I had mine nice & shiny with the high grade 3M brand tape when I remembered an event that I thought would be of interest to Hunter, so I thought I would share it with you as I shared it with him.

While carefully wrapping my chain, I begin by setting the stage, I was on the Upper Ocmulgee, far down the Upper Ocmulgee, if that makes sense, let’s say above Macon but below Jackson, somewhere in there. I was catching mostly largemouth throwing a magnum broke back Rebel, doing pretty good I thought, then my drag chain hung up.

“My word”, I thought, as I reflected on the fact that I had just re-taped that chain yesterday and it should have slid through the rocks and snags like a dose of milk of magnesia through my mother-in law when she had all that stomach trouble. I remember once my father-in-law was having a little constipation and he slipped himself for a dose of that milk of magnesia. When he told her he had snitched a swig of her private stock, her question was, “Did it act?” It’s not just kids, sometimes old people say the darnedest things.

Anyhow, now getting to what I was telling Hunter, that drag chain seemed hung fast to something akin to the largest thing in the world, the bottom of the river, when the cord fastened to it began to move across the current and slightly upstream. I had the cord in my hand because I had been trying to yank the chain loose when it moved, so all I did then was make sure there was no slack in the cord and held on tight.

Whatever had a hold on that chain down in depths began to tow my canoe, upstream, and the boat was putting off a wake. That caused me to think of the television program on the Animal Channel, River Monsters. I had the thought too that I had just been wading slightly upstream from where the chain had hung up, a scary thought. The cord began to cut into the palm of my hand and I thought there was no danger of slack coming in it so I turned it loose.

Just my luck, right about the time I turned it loose, the cord went slack so I figured I would never know what was going on down there. I suspected that maybe I had hung up on an abandoned trot line or a submerged tree limb so that when my canoe pulled it tight it stretched it out and the elasticity in whatever the chain had hung had put a reverse pressure on the cord and pulled the boat upstream as we had entered some slack water. I thought that would explain the situation when to my surprise the drag chain cord went taut again, but this time headed downstream and whoa Nellie! We had a tow going toward Macon.

I figured then my first rationale for this strange event was probably not correct. There was something alive on the end on my drag chain cord. Lord have mercy!
I picked up my wooden paddle and took a turn of the cord around the handle so it wouldn’t cut my hand then I remembered “Swamp People” and how those guys were able to wrestle up an alligator on piece of trot line. I decided if they could do it I would try. I pulled on that paddle with both hands and managed to slow my flight downriver and after what seemed like five minutes but I guess was really ten seconds or so, I began to gain some line.

It wasn’t too long when I saw the culprit. A huge, I mean monstrous, flathead catfish had swallowed my drag chain. I guess that big cat had a feeling in his stomach like a piece of lead caused by eighteen inches of log chain wrapped in maybe five half lapped turns of duct tape.

About the time I was able to pull that big cat up alongside, probably just because the catfish was tired and had a stomach ache to boot, that fish let out a monstrous submarine belch, the kind that comes on you when you eat two or three slices of pizza too many, or have the bad judgment to eat a pickled boiled egg and chase it with a highly carbonated soda like Pepsi Cola.

Now the bubbles came up sort of like Lloyd Bridges used send up while scuba diving on the television program, Sea Hunt. As the bubbles cleared, I saw that flathead catfish rear back and spit that taped up chain out to the end of the cord with such force it yanked my canoe sideways.

Now I am not proud of the fact that Hunter swallowed that tale; hook, line and sinker because I figured any grandson of mine would be too smart to fall for a tale that tall, but later on when we were eating supper and I was delivering to him a lesson on never telling a lie, always telling the truth, he asked me if I had ever lied and of course I said, “No, never!”. Then I remembered and added to my response, “Except when I told you that a catfish swallowed my drag chain”. Hunter said, “Poppy, you mean you made that up?” He swallowed it for a little while, did you?

Bill Prince, May 12, 2011 © All Rights Reserved

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