I love my brother Randy. He didn’t think so when he was seven. I didn’t think so when he was seven. I was ten at the time.
The summer of that year we fished the bullhead creek our father fished as a boy. Dad explained the strange but tasty little catfish helped him grow big and strong, and eager to follow suit we attacked the creek with zest … and the latest in Zebco technology.
“I’m catching more fish and growing up bigger than you!” Randy declared. We chose our spots. War on.
Within five minutes I’d landed two bullheads. I taunted Randy as I slid them down the stringer.
Randy appeared frustrated as I reeled in my third uncontested fish. He adjusted his bobber to match my depth. He watched as I caught two more. His frustration grew.
“Dad, how come I’m not catching fishes?” Randy asked.
I answered: “The fish see you. Your ugly cowlick scares them. You look like a giant fishing lure. That’s why I have five and you have zero.” Randy’s lower lip quivered as he inched backwards into the weeds.
I brought in a sixth and Dad suggested we switch spots. Begrudgingly I traded places, relinquishing the honey hole to my arch rival. Randy stuck his tongue at me knowing his fortune would change. His luck stayed so bad he couldn’t have caught a cold.
I pulled five fish from his spot; his bobber never twitched. He sat there dumbfounded, eyes tearing.
I next convinced Randy his hat scared the fish. He promptly removed it, providing the mid-day sun a fresh target and Randy his first catch of the day … a royal sun burn.
To Randy’s glee, Dad had us switch poles. Three minutes later I landed my largest; a two-pounder. Randy demanded his pole. I complied happily.
I caught another and tossed it back as Randy watched in awe. “Too big, too tough to eat,” I concocted. “We don’t want tough fish.” He asked why I’d kept the two-pounder. I explained mom needed to know how big the things got. Randy was not amused. Neither was Dad.
A bit past five, Dad gave the word it was time to go. Randy sat dejected. Dad consoled him.
I’d caught sixteen bullheads; nine keepers. Unexplainably, Randy had not a bite. I taunted my vanquished foe. “If you’re nice to me I’ll let you eat some,” I offered.
Back at the house, Mom took pictures of the fishermen and fish. I grinned wide – the bullheads looked happier than Randy.
Dad cleaned one to demonstrate, then left instructing: “Son, you caught them, you clean them.”
Dad gone, I propositioned Randy: “How about a quarter to clean fish?” He eagerly agreed; big money at the time.
Finished, I extolled “good job,” slapped Randy squarely on his broiled neck and handed him a dime. “You only cleaned three fish – ten cents’ worth.” I trumpeted. “The quarter was for all nine.” He ran to tell Dad.
Dad came out and scolded: “Why must you always tease your brother? You’re bullheaded! Be careful, you could be in trouble some day, he may grow up bigger than you.”
“No way Dad,” I countered, “Never going to happen … the kid can’t fish.”
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman, missing his little brother. Email him at email@example.com.