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For Big Ed

Anyone who has donned full overall waders and stepped into the chilling waters of Oregon's Willamette River Valley knows the thrill of the catch. It was 1995 and I was leaving Chicago O'hare airport only to step on a red-eye from DFW to Oregon the next day after a tedious week of designing AcuPlant, a units of property computer system that would later be replaced by the new enterprise system: PeopleSoft. The knowledge of the figure eight of the fly rod flowing in less than twenty-four hours put my mind at ease.

Look out onto the horizon. Cast. Reel. Growing up the daughter of an angler, one picks up on more than catching fish, setting trot lines and learning to tie hooks. It's a piece of the soul that gets put on the hook, knowing that the dancing bobber is more than a sign something is on your line.


2016 on Lake Martin pier. School was out for Spring Break for my children. The sky was clear, the ducks were swimming and the sun was beginning to set. It was the perfect time for my daughter, her friends and I to fish before dark. I delighted in tying hooks on the girls' lines using a swivel to make changing hooks easier. Years ago, my brother stocked my Plano tackle box full of the necessities including nail clippers to cut the line, needle nose pliers to pinch the weights and of course Freeborn Enterprise jigs. Recalling the words of my late angler father, "use the local live bait to catch the big ones," I removed the jigs made from a buck's tail and put a bobber, a small weight, and a worm on my line. The worms were not bought from the wiggler worm lady in Wilton like Big Ed used to buy every Saturday morning on the way out to Bulldog Bend. Instead, these worms came from the shady gas station down on the main road, but I hoped they would do the trick. Cast. Reel. Cast. Wait... It was a familiar tug and a snap of the wrist setting the hook. I knew I had a big one. Reel. Reel. Reel. Reel. The jubilation of "I've got one" rang out of my mouth as the child who holds my personality and my daddy's eyes looked on with eagerness to take a selfie. It all came back to me and moved forward at the same time. Do we keep it? This would be nice and fresh for the fish fry on Saturday. Do we let it go? These were new words that I never considered on the bank of the Little Cahaba River. I inserted the stringer to keep it amid the girls' shrieks of protest only to feel the movement of the catfish as it gasped for life. I couldn't keep it.

It was the big one that got away.

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