The one that got away

There's something almost archetypal about fish stories - man (or woman) and fish struggling to outwit the other.

But often we humans don't make the wisest choices, whether we're dealing with one fish or several species. (See story.)

Take, for example, an experience an engineer friend of mine had years ago when he was fishing in New Hampshire. He'd often sit in his boat for hours, he says, feeling smug in his superiority.

Until one day. He had already caught several fish, and there was still a bit of daylight left. He had to try again for a really big one.

Suddenly he felt a strong tug on his line. The fish splashed and wiggled and thrashed around. He knew this would be quite a prize.

By now the sky was inky black, so my friend ran his hand down the line to find the fish's head. But dealing with a problem blindly just creates bigger problems.

As soon as my friend touched the fish, he realized his mistake. He didn't have a fish on his line, he had an eel. And the eel did what its kind will often do.

My friend heard a strange thrapp thrapp thrapp, and then the animal on his hook was wrapped tightly around his forearm. He nearly fell out of the boat. There was nothing he could do but wait a few minutes, until his opponent relaxed its grip.

Then, with the eel off his arm but still on his line, my friend paddled the boat ashore. But the fishing lesson wasn't over.

He picked up his line again, thinking that the unmoving eel had given up. Thrapp thrapp thrapp. The eel wound around his arm again. But this time, my friend gave up. He tossed the creature back in the water.

Fish 2, human 0.

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