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The Young Fisherman

By Edwin Tomes

The young boy’s side of the tale.

It was a hot summer’s day when Jason decided to go fishing. His dad was at work and his mom had passed way a few years ago, leaving him very much alone most of the time. The one thing that his dad had done, was to take time out to go fishing with him when he could on the weekends. With school out for the summer and not much else to do he began to spend almost each and every day fishing along the banks of a river running not far from his house. The river was one of many along the coast that ran to the sea. His dad had told him the river ran 20 miles before it emptied into the sea.

For weeks he had spent his time exploring the river, trying to find new and better fishing spots. He knew places that no other fishermen knew and was well known for his fishing habits. His dad had told him to be respectful of other people and of the land, so he always asked permission before going to places. It really didn’t matter though, most people living along the river were kind.

Mr. Edwards had a place that was far back in the woods, and didn’t talk to any one. Every one thought he was a mean old man who lived by himself. Jason guessed he didn’t like people, but he owned a lot of land along the river, and didn’t let any one fish it. Dad had done some work for Mr. Edwards and while dropping off a few things at Mr.Edward’s place, Jason had ridden along with him.

As his dad and Mr. Edwards talked about business, Jason stood by his dad’s side getting very bored with all their talking, and began to look around. Off to the right he could see the river through the trees. It looked like it was very deep and clear. “Too bad he didn’t have his fishing rods along.” he thought. That gave him the idea. He looked up at his dad and Mr. Edwards, and said, “Dad.”

They were too involved into with their conversation. When that didn’t work he began to pull on his father’s hand. Finally after what seemed like forever, his dad turned to him and said, “What!”

Jason said, “Just look over there, tons of fish there, can we go fishing here tomorrow?”

“I can’t Jason, I have work to do tomorrow.” his dad said. Lately, it seemed as if his dad always had to work, so he hung is head low and was very sad.

“We will do it another day.” his father said, this still didn’t make him feel any better, and his father knew it. His dad looked at Mr. Edwards, and asked, “My boy here loves to fish, yet half the time I don’t know where he goes, would it be ok if he could come here to do a little fishing.” Mr. Edwards sure looked grumpy and bent down to look at him. All the time that they had been there, the mean old man had never even glanced in his direction.

“You promise not to leave any garbage around, because if you, do I will have you here to pick it all up and the rest of my yard too.” Jason nodded, feeling scared.

Mr. Edwards looked at him hard, then said, “Ok then, but if I find one candy wrapper, or pop can he cleans up my yard and never comes here again.”

Yes that Mr. Edwards was sure a mean old man that day, but in the days following, Jason would bring up the day’s catch, and clean them for Mr. Edwards. Sometimes they would sit on his porch and drink pop and talk. It was nice to sit there and rest a bit with Mr. Edwards before riding his bike all the way back home. Jason had gotten to know the area really good, and one day had discovered a dock sticking out into the river. There was no path to it and it had not been used in a long time. There were a few bad places along it, where the boards had rotted through, but he could easily get around them. The fishing was good here, and it became his new secret spot.

One day he arrived at his secret spot, baited his hook with a big juicy worm, threw it in and waited for his first bite. The bobber bounced a little bit, then went down, but before he could set the hook it was up and sitting very still. He lifted it up and the hook was empty. He baited another one and dropped it in. Again it bounced and went down and he set the hook. The line shot under the dock and stopped. Something big was on, then when he was just going to pull hard on the rod to bring the fish out, the line went slack. When he pulled it in there was nothing on it.

“Dang,” he shouted, and began using some of the words his dad would say when he’d seen him mad. Words that Jason was not to say when his dad was around. Jason baited up again, yet it was a while before the bobber moved. This time it bobbed just a little, then sat still, then it shot down, yet when he pulled it up there was no bait.

“Another one to you Mr. Fish, I’ll get you this time.” Jason said as he baited up his hook again. The bobber did the same thing, and again when he pulled the line up there was nothing there. 5 times this happened, and 5 more times he still had nothing to show for it. He heard a splash deep under the dock, yet when he set his pole aside and looked underneath, there was nothing there, but the water was disturbed like something had just dived beneath the surface. Jason went back to fishing again, yet when he reached for his can of worms it was empty. Empty, and he had no fish to show for it.

He looked beside him, finding that he didn’t have any bait of any sort, yet he still wanted to fish. Next to him was a bag that had a pop and a candy bar in it. He sat there with his rod in the water. There was just a bare hook, yet the bobber would still shoot under the water then pop up. It stopped after a while. There was a splash at the far end to the dock, so since he was out of bait he ran over to that side and looked down. There was nothing there, then there was a big splash on the other side, he ran over there, and again there was still nothing.

Deep under the dock he heard someone laugh, but when he looked there was no one there.

“Hello,” he asked. “Is any one there?”

No one answered, nor could anyone be seen. He lay there for a long time looking around, but nothing showed. Frustrated he went back to his lunch and pop. The bobber just sat still in the water. He took a bite of his candy bar, then thought a moment and looked at the candy in his hand.

“I wonder if fish like candy bars?” he thought. “Might as well give it a try.”

The bobber sat heavy in the water almost just under. Nothing happened at first. Suddenly it shot under the dock, wrapping itself around one of the dock’s legs.

“Shoot I’m snagged up.” He yelled. Jason knew that if he pulled too much the hook would embed itself into the dock, so he let the line go slack. Chewing on the rest of the candy, getting ready to pop the last piece of candy into his mouth, the bobber came floating out from under the dock, stopped, then bobbed once. Jason knew what he would find. He baited up with his last piece of candy and threw it out. As soon as it hit the water the line shot under the dock and wrapped around the dock again, then, as before a little while later the cork would float out from the dock, and bob once or twice.

With no bait and no more candy. He picked up his rod and looked at the water below him, “Boy, that is one smart fish.” he thought. As he walked off the dock he said, “You win today Mr. Fish, but I will be back tomorrow.”

The next day he brought a few worms with him, but this time with 5 different kinds of candy bars along as well. When he put the worm on first, it did the same as yesterday, it would move a little, go under the water, then bob a few times. After fishing with worms for 10 minutes it was time to try a candy bar. Breaking off a piece he put it on the hook and dropped it in.

Just like yesterday, the line shot under the dock before he could do anything and wrapped around the dock. Again after a minute, the cork would float out from under the dock, bobbing a few times. He threw the line farther out into the river, but nothing happened until it was within 7 feet of the dock. With some of the candy bars, the bite would happen faster. One, he only had one bite on, then wouldn’t touch any more of that kind of candy when he threw it out. It was a real picky fish.

On the third candy bar, the line wrapped around the dock and broke. It looked like he had lost his lucky fishing bobber. As he began to tie on another hook and a less lucky bobber he heard something hit on the dock behind him, then a splash. His lucky bobber and hook was no more than 10 feet behind him. He walked over to it and picked it up. The fish had given it back? Brushing the line away he laid on his stomach to look under the dock.

There was a girl there! Only her head was above the surface of the water. She had long reddish hair, very deep blue eyes and looked about 8 years old, the same age as him. At first he didn’t know what to say, he just looked at her, then said the only thing that he could say at the time, “Are you the one who has been eating my candy bars?”

She just looked at him and smiling slowly. “Well if you wanted one, all you had to do was ask. Do you want one now? I will share what I have with you.”

Jason waited for her to answer, but when she didn’t, he got up and got the last 2 remaining candy bars. Remembering what Mr. Edwards had said, he unwrapped them putting the wrappers in the paper bag. She was still there 6 feet under the dock when he came back. Holding the candy bar in his right hand, he reached under the dock offering it to her. She looked at him, then at the candy bar, then to him again. Slowly she moved towards him.

In the blink of a eye the candy bar was gone from his hand, and water was dripping from his face. He had never seen her grab it, but with the speed she had moved, she threw water in his face. By the time he wiped his face on his shirt, the water had settled and the girl was gone.

A minute passed, then two and the girl didn’t come up for air. He looked everywhere under the dock, but still no girl.

“Maybe she swam away from the dock.” he thought and looked up and down the river. Still he could not find her, but no one had surfaced either. He had begun to worry when he heard a small splash under the dock. When he ran back and looked, he could barely make out her face far under the dock looking at him from behind one of the support piers of the dock. She seemed to be waiting for something, and after a while he figured out what it was, she wanted more candy!

But he didn’t have any more. “I'm sorry, that was all that I had.” He told her and showed her his empty hands. They looked at each other for a while, and when he didn’t offer her any candy, slowly she submerged, barely making a ripple. Jason waited a full 2 minutes before he understood that she wasn’t going to surface again. It was starting to get late and he had better be off for home before it got too dark, having no flashlight with him.

As he rode by Mr. Edward’s place, Mr. Edward was sitting on the front porch. When he saw Jason he yelled, “How was the fishing today?”

Jason stopped his bike in front of Mr. Edward’s house and said, “Not very good, I’m sorry I didn’t catch your supper, but maybe I will tomorrow.”

He didn’t want to tell Mr. Edwards about the girl under the dock, it was his own little secret, and besides, Mr. Edwards wouldn’t have believed in a girl living under his fishing dock, so what was the point.

“I’ll be back tomorrow, see ya,” he told Mr. Edwards, and started for home. Mr. Edwards watched Jason as he rode away and smiled. This was the first time Jason had ever come back without a single fish or a fish story to tell. He knew that he wouldn’t be getting any more fish from Jason in a while.