So I decided to pass a few hours fishing at a place I've been meaning to try out. A lonely little canal that flowed under a road overpass. It was Christmas eve and I had a little time to kill, so I gathered up my fishing gear and a small freezer bag of shrimp and set out to see what I could catch and release.
Once I arrived at the canal, I eagerly baited my hook with a generous portion of shrimp and cast it out over the water. Immediately I got a bite and the fish and I tested one another's strength. Finally, I landed the catfish on the bank. He was quite handsome at a little over a foot long. I quickly removed the hook and threw him back into the water.
I re-baited my hook as I had done before and cast it back out into the canal. Less than a minute later, I landed another catfish on the bank. I was beginning to feel like an expert angler when I noticed this poor fish like the other one had a small white scar about two inches long near his tail. I tossed him back into the canal and off he swam.
Re-baiting my hook with another shrimp, I cast out my line and like before, I got another bite. I had caught three fish in less than a half an hour. I could have been proud of that, except one thing. The suspicion that I had caught the same catfish all three times. Checking out his tail scar, I realized I did. I caught this little guy each time I cast out my line.
To prove my suspicion I tossed him up on the bank while I re-baited my hook and once again, cast out the line into the murky waters of the canal.
Thirty minutes passed without a single nibble on the hook. I looked over my shoulder to the catfish on the bank; his eyes seemed to follow me and his gills flaring out as he gasped for air it seemed. I found myself talking to the catfish as if he could understand me when I told him how dangerous his game was. "You could have been fillet and eaten!"
Lucky for him I hadn't had the time to fillet or eat him. After all, it was Christmas eve and I was just killing a few hours before packing everyone up in the car to go visit with grandma.
So as I was packing up my tackle I looked at him, as pathetic as he was, just laying there on the bank. As I began to walk for the car, I turned, set everything down sans the small bag of shrimp and knelt down beside him. I then did something I never thought I'd do. I gave him a Christmas gift. I packed his mouth full of shrimp until the shrimp began to emerge out his gills. I picked him up and carried him back to the canal and wished him a Merry Christmas as I gently returned him back into his home.
Sometimes we do things we regret and sometimes we do things we will never forget. Every now and then I think of that catfish and smile. I guess for us both we have no regrets just memories of a warm Christmas eve.