I am making progress. Thank you for the feedback! Please enjoy Chapter 3. They are mostly short chapters, but this one is somewhat longer.
Chapter 3 – The Chase
He could hear the babbling of the creek as he crashed his way down the hillside, his heart beating with exhilaration. He could almost feel the staccato jerk on his pole from a nibble and then the pull of a strike. It was all there in his mind. He could taste the fish, grilled on the open fire and spiced just right. He ran faster, knowing he was getting closer.
As he neared, Josh slowed down – a good fisherman never runs up to their spot. Well, he wasn’t a good fisherman, that was Vern, but he was an enthusiastic one – that much was for sure. He stepped around a bush, nearly being plugged in the head by a pinecone tossed from a chirping squirrel in the trees overhead, and onto a boulder embedded in the hillside overlooking the stream. Wow! What a sight! The sunlight was shooting its arrows down onto the forest floor and some reaching the stream, glistening in time with the rhythm of the rushing torrent. Glimmer, glimmer, pause, glimmer, and then it started over. Some submerged rock orchestrating the miniature surges of water on its own stage.
It was a torrent. It’s too fast! Josh thought and immediately began to look for a pool or wide spot to cast his line. His eyes traveled upstream, slowly assessing any potential place for a landing spot. He thought he could just see a pool through the underbrush further upstream and so he delicately slid off the boulder and began his way down the hill, triangulating toward his destination. He had gone no further than twenty paces when he heard a grunt and a sudden crashing of brush, followed by several ‘snaps’ of small tree limbs. His heart immediately came into his throat and he unconsciously wielded his pole in front of him like it was a claymore. Standing frozen for several seconds he finally caught a glimpse of the source as it adroitly leapt the stream. It was a deer. A nice buck to be exact, still in its soft velvet. He smiled, satisfied with the trade-off of adrenaline to see a nice deer. Josh continued on, heedless of the squirrels overhead, chirping even more.
Finally, he tip-toed out and set the handle of his pole on the bed of moss and pine needles, grabbed the tip and then tugged on his vest for his favorite Mepp’s spinner. It was fishing time!
Five casts later and still no luck, Josh was thinking of changing out his lure when he eyed the far side one last time. There he thought he saw a place where the water had gone under the bank and washed away an alcove. It looked deep and he decided to try it one more time. He flipped his bale, fingered the line, and with a perfect flick of the wrist landed the lure right under the edge of the bank. He counted to two, then gave a slight tug to initiate the spinner and then…WHAM! A strike came without any warning or pretense!
“Yeah, baby c’mon!” Josh breathed out, barely able to keep from shouting. “I got you now…”
His reel immediately started back feeding line as the tension was obviously too low for this bad boy. He quickly reached over and gave it a quarter turn. Still it buzzed out with no evidence of slowing down. The monster fish was heading up stream. Josh gave the drag another half of a turn and it seemed to help, but still as he looked down his spool was getting smaller. He started walking rapidly along the shore following the mysterious fish. It was too swift and the small swirls and white-water were cloaking whatever this was underneath. He slowly started increasing the tension on the reel until there was a noticeable change and then he kept walking. Still the fish ran upstream.
Odd, Josh thought. Normally, they go downstream.
Abruptly, he came to a Yellow Pine that was at the water’s edge and leaned out over the water. He was stuck! After only a second’s hesitation Josh stepped off the bank and into the water.
“Ahhh!” He said, without meaning too. The water went up to his knees and pressed his backwards.
He fought his way up stream, slipping along the rocks and weaving his way left and right as his equilibrium dictated. The buzzing showed little sign of stopping anytime soon. He risked another small turn on the drag; he didn’t want his line to break. This seemed to do the trick. For the first time it stopped unwinding, showing a little slack. He quickly reeled it in, gaining four or five feet of line. He hurried along, looking for a place to get back up on the bank, now that he had the situation under temporary control. He didn’t see any; it was all pretty sharply cut away. He…
His foot reached for something stable and there was nothing there. The bed of the creek disappeared and he fell forward. As Josh fell he fought every instinct to let go of the rod and reach his hands out in front of him. Instead he simply buckled his knees and…went completely under the water fighting for his footing. As the current pressed him back, he finally found familiar ground and stabilizing himself, stood up in the water.
Josh looked briefly right in front where he had fallen and then toward the bank. He would have to climb the bank. He wasn’t about to experiment over and over, probing the edge of a deep pool. The reel started buzzing again. He made for the bank. As he reached it he realized it was going to be even more difficult that what he had first thought. It was nearly as high as his head, with the foot of the bank undercut, and tree roots weaved through the empty space. No matter what happened Josh made up his mind, he wasn’t giving up. It wasn’t altogether about the fish now, but the circumstances. He had been given a challenge and it wasn’t about to whip him. He took the rod and shoved the cork handle in-between his teeth, and reminiscent of a swashbuckling pirate boarding an enemy vessel, he clawed desperately at the bank. Chunks of dirt came cascading down onto his wet shirt, striking him in the face and neck, but by the fourth or fifth handful he felt something solid. A tree root. He put everything behind his left arm and yanked himself out of the water, his armpit striking the edge of the bank. With his feet pawing for the tree root, he reached his other arm up and over raking for a handhold. He finally found it and at the same time his left foot felt a horizontal root. One more time Josh heaved and found himself with his torso up on the bank, but even as he tried to celebrate, he felt the bank start to sag. He threw a leg over and quickly crawled up to safe ground.
Without waiting to breathe a sigh of relief, Josh, ripped the pole out of his teeth and aching jaws. It was covered with water, saliva, and dirt, but he paid it not the least attention as he stood to his feet and ran upstream, reeling as he did. The reel had never ceased to buzz the entire time. He didn’t dare risk a look, but he was sure that he was nearly out of line. This was his creek pole and he only had fifteen yards or so of line on the spool.
Josh weaved through the brush, all the while holding his pole out over the water. The brush cracked and whipped him in the face, leaves sticking to his wet body, as his boots alternately made squishing and sucking noises in a rapid rhythm. He had outpaced the trout now and was making progress on reeling in line. He chanced a look. His heart nearly skipped. He had come so close; it looked like he might have twenty wraps on the entire spool.
He plunged ahead, driving his momentary advantage to the limit. He saw a thick clump of brush ahead and tucked his head, closed his eyes, and lifting the rod high above his head and the grasping branches, bulling his way through. Snap! Crack! Ouch!…SPLASH!
Josh found himself up to his chest in water again, having just fallen through the bank that had been hidden on the other side of the scrub brush. Then it all happened at once. The buzzing of the bail stopped and his line went limp. He wanted to throw his rod out into the wide pool that he had just stumbled on and fell into in utter disgust. He was just about ready to use a sissy cuss word when he heard a familiar voice call out.
“Did you lose him?”
Josh jerked his head around and there, about thirty yards away on the perimeter of the pool stood Vern, quietly and slowly reeling his rod.
“Vern!” Josh exclaimed. “Yeah, after all that, nearly drowning and breaking my neck and then ‘poof’, he was gone.”
Vern finished reeling in and then set his rod down. “Here let me come over and help you back up.”
While Vern came around the perimeter, Josh started to bring in what was left of the broken line. Vern reached down for Josh’s hand.
“Here, just take the pole. I think I can climb up.” He handed the rod over and started climbing back out of the water again.
Vern smiled and shook his head as he finished reeling in the line. “Man you look like the ‘Swamp Thing’! Downright scary, man!” Just then Josh’s pole bent down violently and the drag started buzzing.
“Dude!” Josh hollered as he scrambled to his feet. “Give me the pole! He’s still there!”
Vern handed the pole over to the wet and muddy wild man that stood beside him. Josh immediately began to walk around the perimeter more toward where the large pool seemed to center. The line was still buzzing out, but the point where it touched the water wasn’t moving. Both of the boys noticed it at the same time and both turned to stare at one another with the same bewildered and somewhat frightened look on their face.
Vern was the first to break out of it. “Hey, Man, how deep is that pool anyway?”
“I don’t know, but I have fifteen yards of line and it is almost all gone.” Josh had a dumbfounded look on his face.
“No way, Man! Forty-five feet deep! It’s impossible!” Vern stared intently at the spot where the line went into the water, but it wasn’t moving more than a few inches. “He’s diving straight down, Man!”
“Well.” Josh finally snapped out of it. “It’s time to find out what this line can do. I am almost out.” He ever so slowly started to tighten the drag again.
“Not too tight, Man, it’ll break.”
Josh ignored Vern. Either way he was going to lose the fish, but there was a small chance. Josh waited until the spool slowed to a stop and looked down. “Vern, there ain’t five feet of line on my spool.”
“I am going to let him lay there. If he don’t move I won’t either.”
“Good idea.” Vern’s eyes were still riveted on the ripple on the pools surface.
They simply stood there for several minutes, neither speaking only waiting and watching.
“It’s weird man.”
“Very.” Josh didn’t dare move too much lest he induce another run and run out of luck.
“No, man, I mean really weird!” Vern insisted.
“I know, I know.”
“No, Man, you don’t understand.” Vern walked away from Josh and back over toward his pole and gear. Josh ignored him and continued to stare intently at the spot where his line dove into the abyss. Suddenly his pole twitched and the line, the part not stretched from use, fell onto the water in lazy curls and drifted with the imperceptible current. Josh started to reel in the slack.
“Vern, it coming back up. Either that or I lost it.” He continued to reel.
“Josh, Man, look at this.” Vern called from his spot.
“Not now, Vern, it’s coming up.”
“Man, you gotta look. Just a quick peek.”
“Alright.” Josh shot a glance at Vern and then back towards the depths, but instantly snapped his head back toward his fishing partner. What he saw left him completely stunned. It was impossible! Yet, he was seeing it with his own eyes.
“Crazy weird, Man!” Vern called out.
STAY TUNED!!! HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!