BY SLIM RANDLES
It's just not the same, said Steve. "I don't care how you want to call it, it just isn't the same thing any more."
"But it does make sense," said Doc. "I personally think catch-and-release fishing is a good thing. Hey, how many fish can a guy eat, anyway? This way, we have all the fun of catching them, and then we turn them loose and catch 'em again later, if they're stupid enough to fall for the same bait."
We sucked down some more coffee and got refilled. Doc put his hand over his cup when Loretta came by. He's trying to cut back on the caffeine. He's not a kid any more, of course.
"Catch-and-release fishing," said Dud, in his most pontifical voice, "is here to stay. It is the future. It guarantees us that we will always have a good supply of fish. I don't mind crimping the barbs on my hooks at all."
He made an arm gesture not unlike those made by Hitler when stirring up the masses.
"From this day forth," Dud said, "the world will see that catch-and-release will bring forth hundreds of fish, thousands of fish, untold millions upon millions of fish where before there was simply (his voice quieted right here) a few. A vagrant few. A piddly selection of piscatorial beasts gracing our streams and ponds."
Dud was in rare form for just three cups of coffee here at the Mule Barn.
"Yea, verily," he said, waving his spoon, "just take Lewis Creek, that last bastion of the monster of the deep ... The Lunker. With catch-and-release, he can get married and have pups and replenish his part of the earth. We'll be overrun with lunkers."
"But it's still not the same," said Steve, in his cowboy manner. "I went out and hooked a big one and took its picture and turned it loose, but it wasn't the same as being able to weigh it and measure it."
"How big was it?" asked Doc.
"Hard to say, Doc," Steve said, "but the picture weighed six and a half pounds."
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