Hard Work Paid Off
He dropped the heavy weight onto the deck of his small wooden boat and felt it sway. He never had, in his life, caught such a big piece of fish before.
He had struggled with it for some time and looked at it now, admiring his hard work. He wanted to look closer but was met with something that shocked him. It all made sense now.
The Thrill Of Fishing
Brandon, Mississippi’s Eugene Cronley was a fisherman who had been catfishing for years and had abundant experience. Fishing had been a hobby for him but became much more after he retired. He had one type of catch in mind now.
He had grown to love fishing pieces that he could sell to local fishmongers and restaurants. He also kept some fish for himself to cook. As much as he enjoyed this, he found there was something about catfishing that gave him more of a thrill.
What’s The Appeal?
Catfish are not often sought after for their taste. When caught small, their meat usually amounts to $3 per pound.
The fatty animal is not the best to eat because they tend to absorb toxins and chemicals from the water. But why else would fishermen go after them? Why had they become so sought after?
Because of the catfish’s massive size, they are heavy creatures that are considered one of the most difficult to catch. Their fierceness, especially when feeling threatened, made them dangerous animals which added to the difficulty.
The danger behind catching the biggest, heaviest, and meanest catfish is what fishermen are after. They dream of proving themselves and showing off their skill. But things can go awry when they try and show off their capabilities.
The spines and stingers on the top and underside of their bodies make catfish fishing more dangerous. These are often filled with poison.
Fishermen often encounter these, leading to irritating rashes, infections, and long-lasting skin damage. But it gets much worse.
A Massive Creature
It becomes a dangerous task to take to the watery depths of the lakes to try and overcome this massive creature. It is a fierce creature that isn’t easy to compete with.
The catfish is not the easiest to contend with, given its size and weight. These creatures often try to drag their opponent into the water, severely injuring them. There have been some cases where they have even killed fishermen.
Going catfish fishing alone increases the danger because fishermen would have no one around them to help if they are overcome by excess weight, pulling them down into the water.
Eugene Cronley had done that unknowingly, considering he enjoyed pursuing his hobby alone. It wouldn’t be long before he regretted his decision.
He knew the Mississippi waters like the back of his hand and was aware of the alligators and wild turtles. Despite this, he wasn’t frightened and had no problem fishing. But that day changed everything. (aessoil.com)
He would soon wish he never ventured out into the waters alone, knowing full well that he had made a mistake when encountering the gigantic beast.
A Peaceful Start
Everything had started well when, during the two hours before, he had peacefully roamed the Mississippi waters. Eugene’s capabilities were put to the test as he wrestled the beast.
He was happy to have caught a trout during that time, but that wasn’t what he’d been aiming for. But he maybe should have been searching for something else.
Hoisted It Over
He eventually had something picking his bait after a couple of hours and felt his boat move with its weight. That meant it was heavy and strong.
Eugene pulled at his fishing rod with all his might, trying to get whatever it was out of the water. He eventually hoisted it over, so it landed on his wooden deck. It had taken him nearly an hour, but it didn’t end there. He saw something else.
Something In Its Mouth
The catfish had something inside its mouth, aside from Eugene’s hook. He couldn’t tell clearly what it was. The fish was still alive and kept its mouth half-closed.
Eugene grabbed its head and carefully tried to open the catfish’s mouth fully, trying not to get bit. And what he saw left him bewildered to no end.
The catfish had an alligator foot inside its mouth, with the claws and everything! It looked like it had been ripped off recently; the wound was still fresh.
Maybe he had found it somewhere deep in the river. But Eugene thought of the chance that it might have even bitten off an alligator’s foot by itself. Could that even be possible?
Freak Of Nature
It didn’t seem very likely, but who knows? The catfish was bigger and stronger than anything Eugene had ever seen before. It had almost dragged him down into the water.
It looked more like a monster than like something you would expect to find in a river. And when he informed the local authorities about the freak of nature he had just caught, he was in for another surprise.
Its weight was 131 pounds, which is almost 60 kilograms; its size was 16.6 inches long and 41 inches of girth, or 1.4 and 1.04 meters. That made the world record for the biggest catfish ever seen!
That made Eugene feel elated. It was the greatest accomplishment as a fisherman that he could have ever dreamed of. However, it didn’t come easy.
“We had to untie the boat and float down the river,” Cronley told the media. “I couldn’t move him. I’d pull on him and take in a foot of line and he’d pull and take 10 ft. I just sat there like I was hung up.”
“It is truly a fish of a lifetime,” he said, adding, “He is a monster.” He truly has reasons to feel proud of his catch. But was the catfish big and strong enough to really rip off an alligator’s foot?
Eugene wasn’t done there. When he got back to the dock, the other fishermen took notice of his haul. They all congratulated him on finding and winning the fight against the beast. He put the catfish in a cooler box before loading it into his truck.
He drove home while listening to the radio. But he had no idea that he drew too much attention to himself, especially when an uninvited guest would arrive at his house just the next day.
An Unexpected Visit
Eugene Cronley was only just celebrating his accomplishment when he went home with his prize. He gutted the fish and put it in his fridge. He was looking forward to preparing it the next day for dinner.
He went to bed that night, dreaming of that delicious fish. But he had no idea that he would get an unexpected surprise at his front door.
Eugene woke up and got his day started with a cup of coffee. But not ten minutes after he sat down to drink it, he got a knock on his door. At 10 A.M, he wasn’t sure who could be there to see him.
He got up off of his chair in the kitchen and walked over to the door. But when he opened the door, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
A Man At The Door
After Eugene opened his front door, he saw a man standing in front of him. He was in uniform but clearly wasn’t a cop. “Can I help you?” Eugene asked with a confused look on his face.
“Good morning, sir. I’m here inquiring about a potential case of poaching that could have happened yesterday afternoon,” the man at the door stated. Eugene was even more confused now.
Mississippi Wildlife Federation
The man further explained, “I’m a representative of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. We try our best to conserve nature against any kind of threat, including poaching. You were out fishing yesterday, weren’t you?
Eugene nodded his head. Was this catfish some kind of rare species? Is that why it was so big? He had no idea what the man had in store for him.
Placing Him At The Scene
“There was a possible incident yesterday on the waters of the Mississippi. Other fishermen say that you were bragging about quite the catch. We just wanna make sure that you didn’t do anything illegal.” The man pressed Eugene further.
He started asking Eugene more invasive questions about what he was doing the day before. But why was he so interested?
Eugene felt his heart rate start to go up. This was no random line of questioning. Eugene felt like instead of him asking if he’d seen a crime, he was just trying to get him to admit to something he hadn’t done.
Eugene would never do anything bad on purpose. He started regretting ever setting eyes on the big catfish from the previous day.
A Case Of Poaching
The man finally introduced himself as Hank Arlington. He worked closely with the Mississippi Wildlife Federation and was passionate about animals. He never wanted anything bad to happen to the local wildlife.
When he heard that there was a possibility of poaching, he would be relentless in finding out the truth. Something that would spell trouble for Eugene.
Thoughts were now racing through Eugene’s mind. He stood there while Arlington explained what was going on. But he was already thinking about what he had done.
The man must have been talking about the catfish, right? There wasn’t any other animal that he could have thought about. But he had no idea what intentions the man had.
The Poaching In Question
“Sir, what were you doing yesterday when you went out to the lake? Did you catch anything?” Arlington asked. Eugene felt a lump in his throat. This was it. He had to think quickly to try and find a way out of this.
But he knew he had to be truthful. Eugene decided that it was best if he just told the man everything he needed to know. Maybe then he’d get less of a consequence.
Telling Him Everything
Eugene thought for a moment before spilling everything. He explained how he had loved going out on the Mississippi water as a fisherman. He would always try to find the best catch. But he also explained that he’d never try to poach any wildlife.
As far as he knew, catfish weren’t on any endangered or conservation list. He thought it was completely legal to catch them. That’s when Arlington raised his eyebrows.
“What catfish?” Arlington asked. Eugene explained that the day before, while he was fishing, he had managed to catch the mighty beast he was proud of before. He explained the process of catching it, its weight, everything.
But while Eugene was explaining the situation, he forgot one small detail. This detail would make or break things for him.
The Catfish Wasn’t The Problem
Arlington didn’t seem interested in the catfish. He explained that the potential poaching had nothing to do with catfish. It was to do with an alligator. Eugene should have put two and two together.
He had no idea that his catfish actually had everything to do with the poaching. And once Arlington knew, things would take a turn.
“We found an alligator in the lake. It looked like someone had taken its foot off. He’s okay and in our custody, but we want to make sure that it wasn’t harmed intentionally.”
Then it all made sense to Eugene. He forgot one small detail about the catfish. He was quick to explain that it was the culprit for the alligator’s missing foot.
No More Trouble
Arlington listened to his explanation, and with a satisfied nod, he thanked Eugene for being honest with him the whole way through. He stepped out of his doorway and walked down to his car.
Eugene breathed a sigh of relief. Now he could look forward to his catfish, knowing full well that he had done nothing wrong.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.