Editor’s note: Tressie Wilkins of Little Rock is the winner of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette fish story competition. Her best story was chosen not only by judges, but also by readers in the readers’ choice category. Here is the story of Wilkins and others from the competition.
Big fish, broken arm
By Tracy Wilkins
Welcome!!! My name is Tracy Wilkins. When I was about 10 years old, I had broken my arm by falling off a 10-speed bike. My great aunt always took us fishing in the rock pile, below Scott, Ark. Even though my arm was broken and in the entire cast, I didn’t let that stop me from hunting.
I either fish or throw stones in the water all day and scare all the fish away to prevent anyone else from catching any fish. I could already hear my dad saying over and over again, “Tracy stop throwing stones in the water, you’re scaring all the fish away.” So I chose to hunt with my broken arm.
One Saturday, we were all fishing on the bank on the pile of rocks. It was me, my mom and dad, my older sister and aunt. Of all of us, this huge catfish reached my streak, and was dragging me into the river. Remember now, my left arm is broken and in a splint, and I was just a little 10-year-old girl with only one arm strength.
When the fish began to drag me into the river, my mother shouted, “Have my baby!” I wasn’t afraid because I wanted to catch this huge catfish. It was hilarious. My dad didn’t grab the fishing pole, he grabbed me. Oh man, I held on tight to my fishing pole while my dad was pulling me back, and I pulled that old catfish out of that river. I wanted to go home with the biggest catch of the day.
Of course we didn’t have a camera to take a picture, so for years I’ve been telling my huge catfish story without any evidence. Everything that happened in that moment is still very fresh in my mind. I think the catfish was about 2 feet long and about 20 pounds. The way the old man was dragging me to the river, I think it could have been much bigger. I was very disappointed because when my mom finished skinning and cleaning my catfish, and frying it in a big black cast iron skillet, it didn’t look like the huge old catfish I had pulled from the river before.
Our neighbor was Nigerian, and he spoke with an accent. He was trying to ask me did the catfish land on the bank. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so my sister, who is exactly a year older than me, laughed and said, “He said did you land it.” I said, “Yes” even though my dad had to grab me and pull me back. My dad passed away, so I can’t ask him how much he thought that meant the ancient catfish might be.
My father was very proud of me. My dad was smiling by ear like a Cheshire cat. My great aunt was very disappointed that she was always the big fisherman. I remember her hanging her head in disappointment. Fishing for this huge old catfish will forever be one of the most significant events of my life because that was when my family was having fun together and my father was still alive.
Thank you for taking so much time to read my big, old, story about catfish. I might not win, but I think my fourth grade teacher would be very proud of my grammar and punctuation. Thank you and be safe and blessed.
Fishing on the weekend
Written by George Roland
On the trout stream, a fly rod is in hand.
Pour rooster tail bait over stagnant water.
This fly rod line hit left and right
Above it neatly, bobbin bobbin in hands.
Suddenly the penis bends as the water boils from that tail.
The big trout hits him, splashes and fights. Returned to the bank now,
Resting in the basket.
What an experience, excitement, fun in outdoor nature
On a fishing weekend.
by Eloise Lembke
It was an October day and I was sitting on Bay Pier in Galveston, Texas. The flounder was running. We and about 10 fishermen/women were trying to lure a flatfish onto our hook.
I got hit on my streak. Pole bent. The flounder tends to shrink when it is rolled up. My husband put his pole down and came to my assistant with a diving net. We both heard the scraping sound as his fishing pole flew off the pier. I successfully took down my own fish, which were not standard in size.
There was much chatter among their fellow fishermen about the fate of the shaft and the fish that had pulled it out of the dock. After about 10 minutes of discussion, another flounder was lowered. The successful hunter, about three chairs from us, staggered into his row. It was attached to our shaft that snatched its sneaky flounder from the dock. The culprit was caught, and he was still hooked on the line. We got our pole back, and the successful fisherman who hooked it got the fish. Happy outcome for everyone except the flounder.
Where’s Mom Bear?
Written by Karen Paget
I threw my first team on a fly rod six years ago and loved it! My friend said not so bad for a girl! Within a year, you bought me a fly rod and all my fishing gear.
I took every opportunity that came to me, and wanted to explore other places. So when my co-worker said she wanted to go to Colorado because she had never been, I said “Let’s go. I’ll take you as long as I can fly fish somewhere!” So we went to Colorado!
I could hardly wait to get there and catch my first Colorado trout! My friend wanted to learn to fish, so I gave her some fly rod casting lessons and soon found out that she wasn’t a fisherman and wasn’t interested in learning after several failed attempts at fly rod casting! We stayed in Fairplay, Colorado, and went into town to the fly shop for information on where to catch.
While I was waiting for it to open, I walked into a flea market next to the flies shop, and heard a gentleman talking about the trout they had caught that morning. So I went to them and asked them where they fish. They told me they were going early in the morning, and you would see me some places. So my friend talked about getting up early and driving 10 miles to the fishing spot and telling her to come back in three hours, without thinking about where I was.
I was so excited about hunting that I didn’t think things through before my boyfriend left me for three hours! This place is like the cover of an Orvis book! I put on my gear and went across the field to the water, which was much farther than it looks, oh my goodness! I finally got to the bank and came down in this beautiful stormy stream of water and put back my fly rod when I saw big new bear footprints. And next to him were the footprints of a baby bear! My heart was about to break out of my chest because I suddenly realized that this ain’t Arkansas! I grabbed my cell phone to call my friend to come back, and I had no service.
I turned in the opposite direction and started walking as fast and calmly as possible and praying for my life! As I walked and prayed, I knew that I would be there for about three hours before my friend returned, and could not get away from my mother if she came for me. So I kept walking and praying until I calmed down a bit and saw a spot that looked like a good hunting spot. So I cast my line and grabbed a 19″ trout on the first die! I fought that fish for over 10 minutes, finally got it and got it on the bank for a photo.
I never caught another fish while I was there, but I lived to tell the story!
Read every story
Go to www.nwaonline.com/fishcontest to read all the stories submitted for the 2022 Fish Story Contest.