"I don't think we'll need one."
The brown was tired, its dorsal fin and tail—as big as my hand—flipping above the smooth surface 20 feet away. Its body was sideways to the boat, and I eyeballed the fish as longer than the blade of the oar, which was 30 inches.
"He's ready," I said. "Water me for the kill." I nodded toward my mosquito medicine. As Sally raised the bottle of Pernod to my lips, the brown trout suddenly flopped its tail and head, trying, I think, to hit the leader with its tail. The drink spilled down the front of my shirt, so that I stank of licorice.
Jumbo's head swung toward the boat, and I started to inch him in. His tail splashed feebly. He is spent, I thought.
I heard a loon cry.
I did not have time to look. I did not need to. Peripherally, I saw something dark, something fast and so bizarre that I raised my arms around my head. There was a great splash from my fish—no, above my fish, on my fish. The eagle beat its wings again, sagging from the great weight. The line went taut as the eagle rose. It strained and snapped.
The eagle made a slow circle. It gained height. The fish was flipping in its talons. The loon had stopped now. The eagle passed over the trees on the shore, and the sky darkened around it.