His 20-year reign as the worst fisherman in the state of Arizona came to an end last week when Tom Carpenter caught a 14-inch trout in the Little Colorado River near Eager.
“I don’t know who was more surprised,” Carpenter said from his Flagstaff home. “Me or the fish.”
With the assistance of ichtyologists from the unviersity and the deployment of their most up-to-date audiobionanotechnology, fishery officials obtained an interview with the fish.
The technology isn’t important, but after several hours of dropping a special microphone into the Little Colorado River and asking various fish if any of them and been the one caught by Carpenter the celebrity fish was located. The fish, who prefers anonymity, resides upstream of a beaver pond in the East Fork of the Little Colorado River, above Eager.
“Yes, you could say I was surprised,” the fish said. “I had seen the guy that morning trying to unsnag his fly line from that bush there for the umpteenth time.”
Several small scars mar the slim lips of the fish.
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“Oh, those? Most fishermen around here practice catch and release. You get used to it. Gives me a certain je ne sais quoi, don’t you think? Anyway, better the occasional number 14 tan caddis than a hot frying pan, I always say.”
The fish continued. “When he got his line free, Carpenter fell into the river, slipping and sliding right passed me toward the beaver dam. I stay clear of there. Old Man Beaver is a grump. Carpenter splashed by making noise like a herd of cattle, and barely managed to get his footing. Finally, he started casting near the dam. That’s when I saw Old Man Beaver moving slowly along the edge of the pond. He made eye contact with Carpenter as he swam upstream. Carpenter watched until him the beaver disappeared under water, and then went back to his spastic casting.
The trout chuckled the way trout do. “Sudddenly, Old Man Beaver swatted the surface behind Carpenter. Bang! Like somebody shooting a .22 magnum. Carpenter slipped and disappeared under the surface, his fly rod waving like a reed in the wind. I swam closer for a better look. I was feeling a little peckish and spotted a nymph floating by. Grabbed it without so much as a flick of my tail. Meanwhile, Carpenter struggled ashore with his waders filled with water. “That’s when I noticed the hook in my mouth.”
He raised his upper lip to make his point.
“I was scared at first. You never know if you’re headed for the cleaning station or a selfie. Poor klutz. I felt sorry for him, so, I gave him a good fight—helps me stay in shape—and didn’t squirm too much when he held me to get the hook out of my mouth.”
The fish concluded, “There was a moment, after he had removed the hook, when Carpenter and I looked at one another, and he said, ‘Hello, Mr. Fish. I am please to have made your acquaintance.’ We winked at one another, and then he let me go.”