|My maternal grandparents|
One day back in the 1950's, they decided to make their fishing trip a little more interesting by turning it into a friendly competition. The competition rules were: whoever "boated" the biggest fish that day, won. To "boat" the fish meant neither could help the other reel in, or bring on board, their catch. They had to do it all by themselves.
My grandfather stood about 6'1" tall, while my grandmother was a petite 5'4" tall. My grandfather's size gave him a bit of confidence with his ability to cast further, and reel fish in faster, than my grandmother.
The prize for this competition? Bragging rights.
Little did they know how far, or for how many years, the bragging rights from this friendly competition would continue.
The fishing competition commenced with each of them using a cane fishing pole to catch bait fish. A cane pole is a piece of bamboo which was fashioned into a fishing pole. Once they caught a small fish on the cane pole, they would transfer that fish to their "good" fishing poles, in hopes of catching bigger fish.
All was going well when my grandmother's cane pole began to dance around. Thrilled she had caught a bait fish, my grandmother quickly grabbed the cane pole and began to bring it in.
The harder she pulled on that cane pole, the harder the fish fought back. Within minutes, she realized she had something larger than just a bait fish and started hollering for my grandfather.
"Help! Help me!" she cried.
When my grandfather turned toward my grandmother, he was greeted with a view of just her elbows and fanny, and both wiggling around frantically. The rest of her body was bent over the side of boat fighting against whatever was on the other end of her fishing pole.
A second later, she stood upright, causing her cane pole to bend nearly in half. The weight and fight of the fish on the other end of the pole pulled my grandmother so she was bent over the side of the boat.
Back and forth she went as she fought to gain the upper-hand. Just as she would stand upright, the fish would fight back and cause her to be bent in half again.
Again she cried out "Help! Help me!".
Being that this was a friendly fishing competition between the two, and my grandmother was holding her own in this battle of fish vs. human, my grandfather took a moment and asked "Is this fish going to count?".
"Yes!", she exclaimed.
He chuckled as he replied "Well, then no ma'am I won't help. You have to boat that fish yourself, if you want it to count.".
Her reply was lost as she was, yet again, bent in half when the big fish fought against being a trophy. My grandmother may have been petite, but she came from a lineage of strong women and was every bit as feisty as the ancestors before her. She dug in her heels and pulled, and tugged, and pulled some more.
Back and forth she went with this fish for a good bit of time. Finally gaining the advantage, she pulled the fish in close to the boat and yelled for my grandfather to grab the fishing net to lift her prize into the boat.
Eagerly, my grandfather moved close to my grandmother as she brought the fish to the surface, ready to see what size fish had caused such an epic battle. Just as he leaned down, the fish surfaced, only it wasn't just any old fish.
|Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Public Commons|
It was a shark!
Ok, so it wasn't the 20 foot great white shark pictured above, but when you're the one hanging over the side of a boat with their hands in the path of a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, it probably looked like Jaws. It was, however, a good four to five foot very displeased shark, to be more exact.
My grandfather shrieked and jumped back. After making sure all of his digits were still intact, he declared my grandmother the winner of their contest and made the wise decision she did not need to boat her catch. Grabbing a tool from his tackle box, he carefully cut the fishing line and set the shark free.
You may wonder what happened to the cane pole that stood strong throughout this competition. It was permanently bent in an arc from that legendary battle of wills and would be brought out of the storage closet whenever anyone asked to hear the story of how my grandmother caught a shark.
My grandparents had planned on keeping that fishing pole indefinitely, unfortunately, their home was burglarized a number of years later and the burglars made off with all of their fishing equipment, including the bent cane pole.
So, if you ever come across someone with a bent cane pole from ca. 1950's, it could very well be from an epic battle where my grandmother caught a fish "this big"......... but it got away.
Written by Christie Bielss