“The Catfish Caper”
: “Preparing to catch the big one!”
As Chris ran down the old wobbly wooden dock to look for a container, he felt himself swaying as if he were on a boat. He stood still, closed his eyes and imagined that he was out in the middle of the lake standing on his very own boat!
“What on earth are you doing?” Robin asked as he tried to pass Chris on the dock.
“Shh…you’re going to rock the boat!”
“Oh, you’re crazy Chris -we’re not on a boat! You wish!”
“Yeah, I sure do wish we had a boat. We could be right out there in the middle- catching all those fish that keep jumping up.”
“I’m just glad we’re here. This place is the best,” Colin said as he walked across to the end of the old wooden dock. The afternoon sun was hot and the boys were ready for a challenge. A fishing experience that they would always remember- friends, good fishing and the challenge of catching the biggest catfish ever seen in their favorite vacation spot. The Poconos in Pennsylvania is where they would see mountains, explore caves, and fish in the fish filled lakes.
Chris wanted to explore the cliff over the lake before dawn. “Come -on, let’s go up to the cave before it gets too dark to see.” He carried his tackle box up with him. Inside the box was his secret fishing bait. No-way was he going to leave it lying around unattended. Robin threw down his pole and grabbed his fishing knife. “I’m ready for anything. Come on,” he said as he hurried up the hill. Colin followed behind as Chris stood at the top of the hill, motioning them to hurry. The view was amazing and as the three of them stood over the lake they pointed out the possible spots along the lake that they could catch “The big one.”
“Man….this is a great view” said Chris as he stood over the lake. “Yeah, I know Chris. I can’t wait to get down there and start fishing” said Colin. Being up here is great though, said Robin. “I want to come back tomorrow and search deeper inside the cave. I heard that there were all kinds of bats up here. Maybe I will be lucky enough to see some. Robin stood quietly for a few minutes, gazing over the lake. He had been planning this vacation all month and wanted to catch a big catfish to take home to his father. “This place is awesome, Chris. Thanks for bringing me along” said Robin.
“You are right about that, this place is awesome Robin” said Colin. “Yeah, I guess you guys are right. I would rather be here than any other place in the world,” agreed Chris. “We better get back down there and get our bait before it gets dark” Chris said as he moved his fishing gear out of the way and reached down to make sure his tackle box was tightly closed.
“It’s time to find big juicy night crawlers!I’ll grab the flashlight out of the car” Colin said as he hurried down the dock into the parking area. He ran over to the car and as he grabbed the flashlight, he spotted an empty container for the worms. Chris’ mom was watching from the picnic table where she sat in her favorite reading spot. She sat right below a bright street light that gave her light to read her favorite book as she supervised the boys. She watched as the boys explored the area. She noticed they were wondering farther into the forest. “Watch out for the deer in the woods and when you’re out on the dock, try to stay in the path of the moon light when it starts to get dark out, so I can keep an eye on you all.”
“Ok,” they all said as they ran into the wooded area. Carefully, the boys poked around in a pile of leaves; searching for worms.
As Robin tossed a bunch of wet leaves to the side he heard a faint squeaking sound. He felt something plump as he poked under the leaves. “What was that?” Robin asked Chris. “Sounded like a bird” Chris answered. As Robin leaned down, he began searching deeper in the leaves. Poking and tossing the leaves about, he felt something wiggle. “I feel something plump and soft. I think it’s a bird!” Robin carefully touched what appeared to be a soft plump ball of feathers. It’s so fluffy that I can’t even see its eyes. Robin lifted the tiny bird up and took a closer look. He could see its tiny eyes close from the bottom up and its little head began to quiver as Robin brought it closer to his face to get a better look at it. Its feathers were black, glossy and soft as silk. “Feels like velvet. It sure is so-cute. We should put it up high so nothing comes along and eats it” said Robin as he carefully placed the bird up onto a thick branch. There it settled with its tiny head looking up at him as to say-“thank you.” As Robin turned to walk away the bird stretched out its wings and bounced upward… flying away quickly. A small black feather flew up in the wind and gently fluttered downward landing on Robin’s nose. “Awesome!” said Robin, as he grabbed the feather and stuck it in his pocket.
“Wow…. Look up there! It’s so tall, I can hardly see the top,” said Chris as he peered up; following each branch as they towered so high it appeared to reach the sky. The tall pine trees were beautiful and they fascinated Chris as he thought about what creatures must be living it them!
Colin was busy digging for worms on the opposite side of the huge towering pine tree. He called out to Chris and Robin. “Come on you guys, let’s hurry. It’s going to getting too dark. I won’t be able to see the night crawlers that I found under this tree.”
“Ok,” Chris answered as he and Robin worked their way back around the tree. The three of them continued digging for worms. “Shine the light over here” Chris said to Colin. Poking its head out of the dirt was a huge night crawler. It was as big as a garden snake, at least six inches long! Slimy and difficult to grasp, its skin felt like fish scales as Chris quickly grabbed onto it- pulling it up out of its hole. “That’s one big worm!” exclaimed Robin as he watched it wiggle all around as Chris tried to get it to settle down long enough so he could put it into the container with the other worms. Closing the lid tightly, he said “That was one feisty worm!” “We have plenty of worms now. Let’s get on with our fishing,” said Robin as he quickly scooped up a few more worms from under the rotted old tree log. “Let’s get going and catch the big one” said Chris. Catfish fishing was their favorite part of vacationing at the lake house. Sundown was the best time of the day, and if it rained that day, even better! A rainy day meant the catfish would be looking for those big juicy worms that floated around in the muddy water.
“Let’s go over by the cave real quick and see if we can see any bats. Maybe we can check them out before it gets too dark” said Chris. The boys found the cave and went inside to search for some bats. They realized that deep inside the cave was too dark and cold. They sat in the entrance for awhile and just talked about what might be inside the cave.
“Maybe we can come back with your father sometime, Chris and see if we can explore deeper inside” said Robin. “Yeah, let’s go back and search for night-crawlers” said Chris. Colin wanted to stay, but knew it would be too dangerous in the dark of night to be inside a cave.
“I heard that there were lots more catfish in the lake this year,” said Chris as he hurried out of the cave, following the light that shown over the car in the parking area where his mom was waiting.
“Where did you hear that?” asked Colin. “My Dad said the fishermen have been throwing the fish back into the water.
“Why?” asked Robin.
“Because they’re all trying to catch the big one,” said Chris.
“What’s the big one?” asked Robin.
“It’s the three footer, the biggest catfish ever seen around here,” said Chris as he stretched his arms open wide to show exactly how big that three footer must be! They walked across the dock; this time slowly, making sure not to scare off any fish that may have been lurking underneath it. Each one hooked a big night crawler and cast their lines out into the dark murky water.
“Sure is getting dark,” Colin said as he glanced out over the moonlit lake.
“Yeah,” agreed Chris.
“I have a bite!” said Robin as he reeled in his line. A nice size catfish struggled on the end of his line. It pulled and jerked all about, opened its jaw wide and spit out the worm as to say thanks, but no thanks! “Did you see that?” Robin asked in unbelief.
“That was awesome!” said Chris, as he moved along the side of the wobbly dock looking for the perfect spot to cast his line.
“They’re biting like crazy!” said Colin.
“Yeah and so are these pesky mosquitoes,” Robin said as he began slapping his legs to stop them from biting. Colin searched his tackle box for the insect repellant. “Oh- no, I left the spray at home. Those pesky bugs keep biting!” The boys stood on the dock slapping at their legs as the mosquitoes were biting them. They were wondering how they would be able to continue fishing with all the mosquitoes biting. Then they noticed a swarm of what appeared to be birds flying toward them. “Look out! Here come some birds- right towards us!” yelled Colin as he moved to the side. Chris grabbed the flashlight, pointed it upward, then quickly-turned it off. He said “they’re not birds- they are bats and they are eating the mosquitoes! Stay perfectly still…” Chris whispered as they anxiously watched the bats zoom fast by their legs. Each bat gulped mouthfuls of mosquitoes.
Colin gasped as he felt the wing of one skim along his leg, giving him the goose bumps. Every hair on his body stood up as he watched the bats swarm past him. The bats returned to the trees just as quickly as they flew down. They were full and satisfied. Their stomachs now contained what had appeared to be hundreds of huge mosquitoes. All that was visible now- up high in the towering pines were tiny red dots. Their little creepy eyes were peering down on the boys. Watching, guarding and waiting! “That was unbelievable!” said Chris, as he looked up into the trees. Robin and Colin stood staring up at the glowing red eyes peering down. They were both speechless. Chris motioned them to pick up their poles and begin to fish once again. “Now we can keep on fishing. No more annoying mosquitoes biting us. Thanks to the bats!”
The moon was shining brighter than ever, lighting up the beautiful lake. Fish were jumping up in the air, as to say “Hey, how about me?” The bats were watching from above, waiting to swarm down and feast on more mosquitoes. Each boy picked up a fishing pole and cast their lines out into the water. They were waiting for the big catch of the night. Chris decided to use a different kind of bait. He opened his tackle box, pulled out an old black sock. In the sock- was the secret bait? “I’m going to try some of my Dad’s secret bait now.” “What’s in that stuff?” asked Colin, as he picked up a ball of the bait. “Some cornmeal, flour, and something else,” Chris told him as he quickly took the bait from Robin’s hand and sat down to fish. “What’s the something else?” asked Colin. “It’s a secret, that’s why we call it the secret bait” he said as he hooked it onto his pole, and then tossed it along the edge of the lake near the lily pads and cattails. Chris asked, “Do you think that could be a good spot?” “That looks like it’s a great spot, Chris,’ said Colin as he and Robin watched.
“Let’s see if that secret bait really works,” said Robin.
Excerpted from “The Catfish Caper” by Tina Serrano. Copyright © 2011 by Tina Serrano. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.
Read more: http://the-catfish-caper.webnode.com/