Did you hear the one about the 45-pound catfish caught on 4-pound-test line and a crappie jig?
That's the fish story Bob Teahan, of Fairview Heights, is telling everyone. The good thing is it's no joke, and he has the photo of his son-in-law, Bruce Lukasek, of South St. Louis, holding the big cat up by the lips to prove it.
"It was a monster fish, an ugly monster," said Bob, 78, of Lukasek's catch on April 9. "When we got him up to the side of the boat, it scared the heck out of us."
They were fishing on a friend's private property south of Belleville. You didn't expect him to tell you exactly where, did you? That's not how big fish stories work.
Here's Bob's tale.
"We were fishing for crappie off an 8-by-10-foot pontoon boat, trolling. My son-in-law was using a 4 1/2-foot pole I just gave him. We thought we snagged the line on some brush or something. Then it started moving.
"I ran the foot pedal (on the trolling motor). We followed it around for almost an hour. I told him, 'just be patient.'"
They waited the big flathead out.
"It's a miracle we could ever get it in. ... He was too big for the net, so I got him by the lip and we pulled him in."
"Sure, we showed everybody."
But Teahan, a lifelong fisherman, didn't have the heart to eat such a specimen.
"We put it back in the lake. I fish places where they have a big cat that's like a pet. People feed them. So we let him go."
Much to the property owner's dismay.
"My friend said. 'You gotta go back and catch it again. He eats all the other fish.'"
Teahan has tried to catch it since.
"Now we'll use proper poles and catfish bait. We have some lines out."
It's only a matter of time, Teahan said.
"We'll get him."
Teahan has served 40 years as chairman of the Fairview Heights zoning board of appeals, assisting as a volunteer during the city's growth into a shopping destination. For his service, he received a Kimmel Community Service Award on April 30 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
You may also recognize Teahan's name from Roger Schlueter's Answer Man column. He played right end on Belleville Area College's first football team in 1957.
If you have a good fish story where you caught a big fish somewhere, let us know. Contact Pat Kuhl at 239-2537 or firstname.lastname@example.org