I tied on a Marabou Muddler, which I suspect is what the taciturn Mr. Moseley caught his Big Jumbo on. It is a wet fly with a round, bristly head and a gaudy white feather above a narrow tinfoiled body. Sally rowed me to one of the several places my cousin—who knows everything—refers to confidentially as "the best water in the lake," a spot marked with submerged logs, stumps and weeds. I was throwing an attractive line, the Pernod having relaxed my motion just so, when in the middle of a retrieve a fish hit. Before I could strike, the slack was gone, and I felt as if someone were trying to pull the rod from my hands. The fish exploded from the water, shaking violently. I bowed through instinct, and it fell back with a terrific splash.
"Big Jumbo!" I screamed. My voice, to my surprise, was quaking.
"Be careful of the log," Sally said.
It was too late to be careful of the log. The log had somehow appeared between the boat and the fish, and the wily Jumbo was making a left turn around it.
Sally pulled on the oars. The fish broke water for the second time, and I dipped the tip of my rod. There was just enough slack in the line that the leader did not break; I got a good look at the fish. My heavens, what a brown.
"Did you see that? Did you see that fish?" I shouted.
We circled the log, and I pulled in my slack. The fish dived now, but it was swimming away from the weeds, into the channel that ran through the pond. It was a heavy fish and my bamboo rod was bent at a crazy angle. I held it high, trying to keep the fish from the bottom.
It turned and made a slow pass toward the boat, veering under the stern. Its spotted tail slid into, then out of, view in the dark water. The line and leader rose into sight on the other side of the boat, and the fish jumped again, into the sunset. It made an enormous splash.
That was its last jump. It ran out 20 feet of line, then went deep, circling twice more behind the stern. On each pass, the fish came a bit higher, and I picked up a yard or two of line. After a half hour, it was back on the west side of the boat. The sun was down. We were perhaps 15 minutes from dark.
"We don't have a flashlight," Sally said.