Tall Tails and Big Fish

Submitted into Contest #66 in response to: Write about a contest with life or death stakes.... view prompt


Adventure Drama Inspirational

“Ron, hand me a drink.” I was strapped to a fighting chair on the bow of the boat and couldn’t get up. We were anchored close to a sixty foot deep hole, which is a short distant south of the Sebastian inlet and about a half mile off shore. That is the point where the current slows allowing everything from the inter-coastal waterway to settle to the bottom. One other feature about this area is why the locals call it the monster hole for reasons soon to become obvious.

“I didn’t know I’d be a servant.”

“Stop complaining. You wanted to come. Pick up that rod and close the tackle box. Move this stuff out of the way. If a shark strikes you won’t have time.” Ron got busy clearing the area around my chair. Another hour passed.

“When do you think a shark will strike?”

“Don’t know. Why don’t you go for a swim and ask the first shark you find?”

“Funny. It’s just getting a little boring. That’s all.”

“That is the reason it’s called fishing.” Ron handed me a coke and as soon as I opened it all Hell broke loose.

Tick, tick, tick. About thirty seconds later. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

“Better get ready. Dip up some water.” That 6/0 Penn started screaming. The pole bent down a good eighteen inches. Things get hectic when a big shark strikes. 80 lb test line is like sewing thread against a monster to which I was hooked. Orders must be followed without hesitation. I picked up a dipper of water out of the bucket and started pouring water over the reel. At the same time, I was shouting.

“Dump the anchor. Engine. I don’t have enough line. We got to run him down.” Ron flipped the anchor rope off the cleat. Hit the starter. That Johnson outboard engine fired immediately.

I was able to retrieve line, but that shark was almost as fast as my bass boat. After many long minutes, I had recovered enough line to start over.

“Kill the engine.” The shark had not slowed down yet. Now I could start putting some resistance against him. Several times later, I was almost out of line again when that fish started slowing. I started pumping; putting twelve inches of line back on the reel with every turn of the handle. Instinctively, I knew it was not going to be enough.

“He’ll start another run before I can recover enough line. Get ready to run him down again.”

"How many times will we need to do this."

"As many as it takes."

I kept pumping the rod and cranking on the reel. The shark didn’t rest very long. My reel started screaming again. That braided Dacron line was flaring out on both sides of the reel from the speed it was being pulled off the reel.

“Get me some water.” Without water being poured over the reel, it will overheat and lock down. I’d rather get wet than loose that expensive line. Braided Dacron line ain’t cheap. The four hundred fifty yards of line cost me as much as the reel. I also had a huge investment in just the rod, which I built myself from a boron blank. I was thankful a roller was at the end of the rod instead of the usual ceramic tip found on cheaper equipment.

“Ron, one more time, please.” He fired the engine again and the chase began a new.

“Throttle back, but leave it in gear.” This monster was tiring and so was I. Five hours is a long time to do constant battle. My arms no longer existed. They were numb. The muscles were cramping. I knew if I stopped using them, the shark would win the battle. Salvation came to me because I could release the rod and rest for a few seconds, but I knew better than relax for very long at a time. A leather harness around my waist with padded straps over both shoulders, plus a cup between my legs and two straps from each side of my waist connecting the reel to me allowed me to drop my arms briefly to my side. With that rig, the rod would stay at a forty five degree angle without me holding it.

I had help giving me what I needed. That monster was alone. I wore him down and made him give up. When I dragged him up beside my boat, I was shocked. The fish was almost as long as my sixteen foot bass boat. If he had decided to attack my boat, we could have ended up as his dinner. A .357 hollow point bullet was his reward. That tiger shark found I was a person who never gives up. He rode back to the dock on the port side of the boat. It was much to heavy and to long to bring aboard. 

“Keep a look out for the anchor.” I knew it was somewhere near. A gallon milk jug painted florescence orange was attached to the anchor rope.

“There it is. Off the port bow.” I eased the wheel over and stood up, so I could see. Ron hit it with the Q Beam light. Catching the jug on the starboard side, he hauled up the anchor. Returning to the dock was slow. I was dragging almost fifteen hundred pounds of shark on the port side. I was perfectly satisfied with a fast idle. Even at that speed, the rudder was to the far right to compensate for the drag on my port side. I welcomed the slow speed and time it took to return. Ron drove the boat back to the dock. My arms were so cramped up, all I wanted to do was rest. Past experience gave me the knowledge to take some Soma with me. That’s a powerful muscle relaxer and I needed one badly.

Ron and I spent the rest of the night carving up that shark. It weighted in at one thousand two hundred eighty five pounds and almost fourteen feet long. Every piece of that shark was sold. I think the fins went to Japan. Within minutes of arriving at the dock, a local man appeared begging me for the skin. One characteristic about shark skin is the fact when rubbed in one direction it is completely smooth, but rub it in the opposite direction and it feels like course sandpaper. He would make wallets from it after the curing process was completed. A wallet made from shark skin will go into a pocket with ease, but will turn the pocket inside out when removed because of that unique quality. No pickpocket will ever lift one from the owner. The meat was sold and was shipped to New York. It was probably destined to be fake scallops in some fancy restaurant. That was a nice payday.

The jaws ended up in a seafood restaurant just up the road. I made a deal with the owner; two meals per week for a year was my offer. The demonstration of holding the jaws over my head and passing them over my entire body was a good sales pitch. That monster was capable of swallowing a man whole. He agreed without any hesitation or negotiation. Nice seafood was served there.

It took me ten days to recover from that battle, but it was worth the pain and suffering I experienced. I still had bragging rights. No shark that ever tested me got away. The one I described was by far the largest and the most ferocious, but I never give up. Surrender is not in my creed..

October 31, 2020 22:43

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Robyn Fox
02:46 Nov 08, 2020

This was really engaging and exiting from the very first sentence all the way through. Your style was really direct and grabbing and I did not find myself getting lost in any of your lines, or having to re-read sections. Really good story :)


Stan Allen
12:00 Nov 08, 2020

Robyn, Thank you for such a wonderful comment. Being somewhat new at writing, I find these short stories helpful in developing my writing skills.


Robyn Fox
13:19 Nov 08, 2020

Your very welcome! Me too, short stories are a fun way to be creative. I'm just getting back into writing myself, really enjoying using the reedsy prompts for inspiration! And it's a great community on here too! Best of luck and I will be looking out for your next story 🍀 :)


Stan Allen
17:58 Nov 08, 2020

Would you be interested in reading a full length science fiction story? The only payment will be some feedback on the story. If interested reply at sallen@htmf.com


Robyn Fox
21:48 Nov 08, 2020

Definitely! I really enjoy science fiction and can do my best to give some constructive feedback for you. My email is poochparadebristol@gmail.com if you'd like to send the story over to me! I'll give it a read :)


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