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Angling? Phooey!
Joe David Brown
August 22, 1960
When I was a boy fishing the streams of Alabama the most renowned fisherman in our parts was a runty little man named Justin Wiggins. The only fish Justin considered worth catching were catfish; not just any old catfish, but the evil-tempered and battle-scarred creatures, locally called channel cats, that had staked out squatters' rights to potholes in the bottoms of most local rivers. The biggest of these cats ranged in size from 25 to 50 pounds, and on some nights, especially when there was no moon and the river was running fast and muddy, Justin Wiggins would haul in three or four.
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August 22, 1960

Angling? Phooey!

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I pointed to the opening between the first two pilings of the ferry slip. "See if you can put your spoon under there."

Almost immediately after the boy's cast I saw that tight and swift little swirl of water a snook makes when he takes something and heads away.

"Watch yourself," I warned. But the boy already was receiving the message. His rod was clutched tightly in both hands and his reel was whining softly as the line spun off. "Reel in," I said. The boy was frozen, mouth agape in wonder and awe. "Hey," he said, in protest.

"Your reel—wind your reel," I said.

"Hey," he said again, in that awed tone of protest.

I reached to help him but it already was too late. "Hey!" he shouted one more time. But the snook had wrapped the line around the piling as neatly as a butcher ties up a chop. It gave one lunge and the line parted.

I heard the boy talking to his mother later. "It was this long," he kept saying excitedly, holding his arms at full length. I don't know whether he'll make a fisherman or not, but he helped prove a point for me. Even an idiot child can hook fish in Punta Rassa.

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