It was the third day after their arrival when Ben suited up for fishing and started out in front of the Scamp. He waded to the other side of the river and took his hunter’s pose, stooping over so he could study the flies on the water. After several minutes, he selected a fly that matched what was on the river. He was using his new Prince reel, and had high hopes that it would bring him luck. He was working with a dry fly, so his casting motion was intended to air the fly out so it would land and float naturally. He slowly moved downstream and each time he landed the fly, he’d jerk it toward him to imitate a swimming movement. After some time with no success, he reeled in his line and changed the fly. He started again, his movements in the water slow and graceful.
Then he saw a nose, and his heartbeat began to speed up. His fly was near the fish, so he gave his rod a subtle tug as he saw another nose rise to the river’s surface. They wanted his fly, he just had to be patient. He drew the line out of the water, and easing his rod upward, his arm heaved it in the air for a few casts before landing the fly a few feet upstream from where the fish had been feeding. He let the fly slowly drift downstream.
There it was. A big nose appeared and the mouth opened wide to take the fly. He waited for the right moment, and jerked the rod to secure the hook. His reel made a screaming sound, and the fish was off, swimming frantically downstream. Ben waded through the water following his catch. It was a fighter. He felt some slack in the line, and began reeling it in as fast as he could. The fish felt the tension and used its strength to fight its way further down the river. Ben let some line out and moved further downstream. This is no Moby Dick, but he certainly is a fighter, Ben thought.
The other fishermen fought to get their lines out of the water and make their way to the shore, leaving Ben the river to himself for the fight. All eyes were on Ben.
Mickey had been fishing nearby and was reeling in his line, so like the other fishermen, he could get out of Ben’s way. He started wading to the shore.
Ben’s hands were cold from gripping his rod, and the reel was screaming again as the line ran further out.
And then it happened.
Ben’s precious Prince reel snapped, and popped off the rod, hanging by his line. Everything was happening too fast. He couldn’t hold the rod and reattach the reel while the fish was fighting him. He saw Mickey, the only fisherman still in the water. “Mickey, get over here and take the reel!”
Mickey forgot everything around him, and waded as fast as he could to reach Ben. As he did, Ben yelled at him to take the reel and listen to his instructions.
“Now, reel in the line!” It had gone slack for a moment, the fish was getting tired. The two friends stood side by side, Ben holding the rod, and Mickey the reel. Again, the fish took off with new strength. “Let him take it out, come on!” They waded as best they could in the deep water to keep up with the fish.
Over an hour went by with the two of them working together to tire the fish. Mickey would let some line out, and then reel it in on command from his superior.
The crowd on the river’s bank had grown. Any patrons that had been inside Sticks and Templetons had run from their food to see the sight. People driving by had stopped and gotten out of their cars to join the audience.
The show went on for over an hour, and no one was disappointed. Never had they seen a human reel help bring in a trophy fish, or any fish for that matter.
Ben was sure that the fish was wearing out, when it suddenly turned and swam upstream toward them. “Reel in the line!” Ben was beside himself. There was at least five feet of slack line floating on the river.
Mickey’s hands were cold and numb, but his adrenaline took over so he didn’t notice. He reeled as fast as he could and then, just as he had it taut, the fish changed directions again. “Let some line go but not too much, he’s almost had it.” Ben began wading again and Mickey followed.
The line went slack, and the angel reeled as fast as he could. As the end of the line approached them, they could begin to see the outline of one of the most beautiful fish Ben had ever laid eyes on. He unhooked the net from his belt and held it out for the fish. It was a rainbow that weighed between nine and twelve pounds, but future stories would have it weighing much more. Ben and Mickey stood in the river, raising the fish in the air for their trophy pictures. Mickey held the Prince reel up so it would be clear that he had been the human reel that successfully brought in the fish.
There was a large crowd by now, and they cheered and whistled as they looked down on the strange duo in the water.
Ben knew the fish had been out of the water long enough, so he gently placed him back in the river and began cradling him so he’d recover with enough energy to swim. Mickey watched with awe as the fish slowly swam away, and his outline disappeared.
Ben slapped him on the back. “You’ll be known to me always as ‘the Prince.’ Thanks for your help.” He reached for the reel and securely attached it to his rod before they made their way to the river’s edge.
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