Editor’s note: Tressie Wilkins of Little Rock is the 2022 winner of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette fish story contest. Her story was picked the best not only by the judges, but by readers as well in the reader’s choice category. Here is Wilkins’ story and others from the contest.
Big fish, broken arm
By Tressie Wilkins
Hello!!! My name is Tressie Wilkins. When I was about 10 years old, I had broken my arm by falling off of a 10- speed bike. My great-great-auntie would always take us fishing at the rock pile, down in Scott, Ark. Although my arm was broken and in a full cast, I did not let that stop me from fishing.
It was either that I fished or throw rocks in the water all day and scare all of the fish away to prevent everyone else from catching any fish. I could already hear my dad saying over and over, “Tressie stop throwing rocks into the water, you are scaring all of the fish away.” So I chose to fish with my broken arm.
One Saturday, we were all fishing on the bank on the rock pile. It was me, my mom and dad, my sister and my great-great-auntie. Out of all of us, this huge catfish got on my line, and it was dragging me into the river. Remember now, my left arm was broken and in a cast, and I was just a little 10-year-old girl with just one arm power.
When the fish started dragging me into the river, my mom screamed, “Get my baby!” I was not afraid because I wanted to catch that huge catfish. It was hilarious. My dad did not grab my fishing pole, he grabbed me. Man, I held on really tight to my fishing pole while my dad was pulling me back, and I dragged that mean old catfish on out of that river. I wanted to go home with the biggest catch of the day.
Of course we did not have a camera to take a picture, so for years I have been telling my huge catfish story without any proof. Everything that happened in that moment is still so very vivid in my mind. I believe that the catfish was about two feet long and about 20 pounds. The way that it was dragging little old me into the river, I believe that it could have easily been so much bigger. I was so disappointed because when my mom was done skinning and cleaning my catfish, and frying it in her big black cast iron skillet, it did not look like the same huge, mean old catfish that I had previously dragged out of the river.
Our neighbor was Nigerian, and he spoke with an accent. He was trying to ask me did I land the catfish on the bank. I could not 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 is passed on so I can’t ask him how big that he believes that that mean old catfish may have been.
My dad was so proud of me. My dad was grinning ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. My great-great-auntie was so disappointed because she was always the big fish catcher. I remember her hanging her head in disappointment. Catching that mean old, huge catfish will forever be one of the biggest highlights of my life because that is when my family was having fun together and my dad was still alive.
Thank you for taking so much time out to read my big, mean old, catfish story. I may not win, but I believe that my fourth-,grade teacher would be so very proud of my grammar and my punctuation. Thank you and be safe and blessed.
By George Rowland
On the trout stream, fly rod in hand.
Casting a Rooster Tail fly bait on the still water.
Whipping that fly rod line to the left, the right,
Overhead with precision, the reel spool in the hands.
Suddenly the rod bends with boiling of water from that tail.
Big trout strikes it, splashing, fighting. Retrieved to the bank now,
Resting in the basket.
What an experience, excitement, pleasure in nature’s outdoors
on a fishing weekend.
By Eloise Lembke
It was an October day and my husband I were sitting on “the dock of the bay” in Galveston, Texas. The flounder were running. We and about 10 other fishermen/women were trying to lure a flounder onto our hooks.
I had a hit on my line. It bent the pole. Flounder have a tendency to flounder around when being reeled in. My husband laid his pole down and came to my aide with a dip net. We both heard the scraping sound as his fishing pole flew off the dock. I successfully landed my fish, which wasn’t record setting in size.
There was a lot of chatter among fellow fishermen regarding the fate of the pole and the fish that had pulled it from the dock. After about 10 minutes of discussion another flounder was being landed. The successful angler, about three chairs from us, reeled in his line. It was attached to our pole the sneaky flounder had snatched from the dock. The culprit was caught, he was still hooked on the line. We got our pole back, and the successful angler who hooked it got the fish. Happy outcome for everyone except the flounder.
Where’s momma bear?
By Karen Baggett
I cast my first cast on a fly rod six years ago and loved it! My friend said not too bad for a girl! Within a year I bought me a fly rod and all the gear to fly fish with.
I fished every chance I got, and I wanted to explore other places. So when my co-worker said she wanted to go to Colorado because she’d never been, I said “Let’s go. I will take you as long as I get to fly fish somewhere!” So off we went to Colorado!
I could hardly wait to get there and catch my first trout in Colorado! My friend wanted to learn to fly fish, so I gave her a few lessons in casting a fly rod and soon found out she was not an angler and had no interest in learning after a few unsuccessful tries in casting a fly rod! We stayed in Fairplay, Colo. I went to town to the fly shop to get information on where to fish.
While I was waiting for it to open I walked into a flea market by the fly shop, and I overheard two gentleman talking about their trout they caught that morning. So I walked over to them and asked them where to fish. They told me that they were going the next morning early and would show me some places. So I talked my friend into getting up early and driving me 10 miles to where I fished and told her to come back in three hours, not thinking about where I was.
I was so excited to fish that I never thought things through before my friend left me for three hours! This place looked like the cover of a Orvis book! I got on my gear and across the field I went to the water, which was a lot farther than it looked, oh my! I finally got to the bank and got down in this beautiful windy stream of water and got my fly rod ready to cast when I see fresh big bear footprints. Along beside it were baby bear footprints! My heart was about to pound out of my chest as I suddenly realized this is not Arkansas! I grabbed my cell phone to call my friend to come back, and I had no service.
I turned the opposite direction and started walking fast and quiet as possible and praying for my life! As I was walking and praying I knew I was going to be there for nearly three hours before my friend came back, and I couldn’t possibly get away from a momma bear if she comes for me. So I continued to walk and pray until my nerves calmed a bit and I saw a spot that looked like a good place to fish. So I cast my line out and caught a 19-inch trout on the first cast! I fought that fish more than 10 minutes and finally netted it and got it on the bank to take a picture.
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.