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Spider's Night on the Boom
by: Gary E. Anderson
An excerpt from the book Spider's Night on the Boom
I've never been what you'd call a wild child. When I was in grade school, the most negative thing teachers used to write on my report cards was "can't keep hands off other students."
In high school, I deliberately skipped class once, but the next day, the teacher only said, "That's OK. You must've had a good reason," and when I tried skipping classes in college, no one even noticed.
My idea of a rousing Friday night was for Spider McGee, Digger Sanby and me to grab our poles and head for a night's fishing on the log boom. One night, the three of us were sitting side by side in the dark, drinking cocoa and talking about life, when I suddenly felt a tug on my line. I jerked back to set the hook, and my pole hit Spider squarely across the face.
As he reached up, his hat flew off—right into the river. It must have been one of his favorite hats, because a second later, Spider was in the water himself. I was now faced with a classic dilemma. My buddy was in the water—but I had a fish on the line.
Without hesitation, I shouted, "Hey, Digger! Help the guy, will ya? I got a fish on here!"
When we'd hauled Spider back onto the boom, his drenched red hair and beard made him look like a large waterlogged orangutan—and an angry orangutan. Seems he'd also dropped his pole in the water when he decided to go for a swim. I didn't see how he could blame me for his carelessness, but he didn't seem to be in the mood to discuss it.
By the time he'd finally stopped whimpering, I'd landed my fish. In true "make do" fashion, Spider tried to salvage the night by pulling a bunch of line out of his tackle box and tying the whole setup to his ankle. After he'd cast out his makeshift setup, everything was quiet for awhile, until I heard a distinct "OOOF!"
I looked to my left and saw Spider going into the river again. But this time, he was holding onto the boom, his legs pointed downstream. Wow! It looked like he'd hooked into the giant catfish we called "Old Granddad!" Strangely, he didn't seem too happy about it.
I ran over to help.
"Play him!" I yelled, "Move you leg up and down to take up the slack!"
"Are you crazy? Help me outta here!" Spider shouted.
After a few minutes, Digger and I found that by tilting Spider's huge torso at various angles, we could play Old Granddad fairly well. It was quite a fight, but pretty noisy, what with Spider filling the air with sputtering and cussing. And it got worse when I accidentally stepped on Spider's fingers and he let go of the boom—taking off downstream.
I had to think fast. I took my pole and cast in Spider's direction. As luck would have it, I snagged the big guy's pant leg on the first cast. Spider let out a yelp when I yanked back to set the hook, but the hook stuck.
Spider did a set of ungainly splits in the water, with me pulling on one leg and a 40-pound catfish pulling on the other. I was impressed with the big guy's agility, but it didn't seem like the right time to bring it up at the moment.
After about 30 minutes, we heard a giant pop, and Spider's legs suddenly sprang back into something resembling a normal position. But Digger and I both gasped, because Old Granddad had gotten away! Although we were totally disappointed, Spider didn't even seem to notice.
We finally managed to reel Spider back onto the boom—no mean feat, considering I was only using 10-pound test. His pant leg was shredded, and it seems that he'd lost a boot when Old Granddad made his escape. But our friend was safe, but the funny was, Spider never even bothered to thank me for saving his life.
Oh, well, some guys are like that, I guess—ungrateful.
© Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.