The following tall tale was written by Carson Satterfield, daughter of a Backwater Angler customer. Carson wrote this story for an assignment in 5th grade at Sparks Elementary School last Spring. The assignment was to create a tall tale, using all of the traditional elements of the tall tale. Carson decided to address topics with which she is familiar, fishing and the Gunpowder River. The story is fictional and any similarities to real persons or events are coincidental. Carson is in no way personally affiliated with Backwater Angler and has received no compensation from the fly shop for her story (though her dad is arguing for a discount). Enjoy!
Have you ever heard the tale of the greatest fisher ever? Theo Hopper was born in Belvedere, Illinois, near a pea sized river. He was born the size of a pocketbook, with deep blue eyes and a head balder than America’s eagle. That boy grew like a weed, but he remained tiny. Nothing could stop Theo from shooting down to the river and wrestling with the fish. He swam like a fish, and he loved that river like a writer loves words. Everyday he would go down and fish, and he could fish like an otter. Yessiree, he could fetch a giant sailfish in two seconds flat. And every fish he caught weighed at least as much as a house. By the time Theo was 28, he could cast a line faster than light could travel. But there was one problem, he had caught all the fish in the river! Well, as soon as he told his momma, she got as excited as a child with ice cream, and solved the problem as fast as lightning. “I heard ‘bout a place way out east,” she told him, “Where they got a great bay, the size of Jupiter. Why don’t you go seek your fortune?” The more Theo thought it over, the more he liked the idea. So he packed up his fishing gear, and a few home cooked pies, and bid goodbye to his tear-ridden mother. She was as sad as a weeping willow, but wished him good luck. “Write me when you get there!” She cried, waving a hanky. “I will!” He assured her, as he started down the path. And with a quick wave of his tiny hand, he was gone. By the time Theo reached Maryland, the land of the great bay, he was 29. He had shaved his head, for easy movement in the water, and he had grown a goatee for looks. Along the way, in Kentucky, (he got off course for a while) he had picked up a fisherman’s cat, from along the wharf. No one claimed the cat when Theo asked around, so he decided to keep him. He had named the animal Leonardo. Leonardo was a yellow stripe tabby with beautiful brown eyes. He wore a yellow tuxedo; his stripes with a white shirt and gloves. He was the most handsome creature Theo had ever seen, except for himself. Maryland was a prospering place, with a miniature city that was ac*****ulating people like land ac*****ulates grass. Theo got a cabin way out in the country, down in a town called Monkton. There was a railroad, a river and a few shops that Theo often visited. After a few days of settling in, he walked to the General Store and bought himself a map to reach the Great Bay. The first time Theo went fishing in that bay, he caught a humongous sailfish, the size of a small town. Oh, did he have a time getting that thing home, dragging it for hours, pushing and pulling, lifted and setting back down. After 48 hours of letting it drag on the ground, Theo and the fish reached their home in Monkton. When he looked behind him, and saw the trench he had made, Theo was concerned. And then he got an idea. He sprinted to get his hose, and waited for two months while the hollow filled up. When it was done, Theo was thrilled with his river. It was filled with fish from top to bottom and was overflowing with live bait. But when Theo went to catch some fish, his river wasn’t near deep enough to row out and cast a line. So he thought it over. And soon he had the best idea in the world. He flew to his work bench, and constructed a lengthy rod, with an extensive line that had a miniature hook on the end. After 2 hours, Theo had finished his rod, and was darn proud of it. He was about to slide down to the river to test it, when he realized that he was short on bait. He couldn’t use worms! The next day, Theo headed to the bustling town, hoping to get an idea from the big city folk. Well, he walked into about fifty eight fishing stores, and only one shop gave him his plan. A young man was behind the counter, busily and noisily whistling and tying a line. “You got anything that can help me with my problem?” Theo called loudly. “That depends,” the man snottily declared, “what’s ya’re problem?” “While, I got a river,” Theo began. But the man did not let him continue. “Ya can’t fish in a river. Too shallow. Bad fish.” “Well I invented this new rod, and I need some bait for it, as seeing worms won’t do.” Theo told him. “Why don’t ya just look in the river?” The man responded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the dang ole world. “Why don’t I.” Theo stated, and strolled out of shop. Back at home, Theo thoroughly checked the river for creatures. He was checking under rocks, straining at their weight, when he came across a itsy bitsy critter no bigger than his pinky nail. “Why, I’ll be darned! If it ain’t a little river nymph! Perfect!” And he scooped up the nymph and put it in his pocket. That day, Theo tried his new rod. He had crafted a false nymph, and tied it to his hook. His idea was that he would throw his arm way back, up, so the line almost touched the water, and then do it three more times till he landed it on the water. But it took him a while fore he could fish, cause his line kept hooking everything behind him. He ended up catching a tree, rock, fence, and cat (Leonardo). And just when he was about to give up, his line landed safely on the water. Well, no more than 2 seconds later a fish dang popped up and bit that nymph. Whooping and yelling, Theo gave it a tug and landed a gigantic tuna, about the size of the river itself. Just then, Leonardo caught a huge bass, larger than a boulder. Prouder than anything, the two boys sauntered up the bank to fry and eat their catches. A few years after Theo had invented the Gunpowder river, and the fly fishing method and rod, he retired and started a little fly fishing shop. And for all we know, he’s still there, fishing for fun and selling his products, and keeping his Mother company with weekly letters.
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