The old man had poled the flat bottomed boat up the narrow backwater slough, past the beaver dam, around the corner of the junction where another stream of water came in, keeping the water lily pads fresh and vibrant, bringing in an endless stream of bait fish for the large amount of fish that lived back in this remote area of River. He had first discovered this little hidden pocket of fish, back about 10 years ago, and returned to it every year since, because on that first scout up this channel, he had hooked the “big one”, fought him hard, watched him jump high in the air above the water and spit out the lure. Since that time, the old man had hooked him again, on three different occasions, but every time the big fish managed to slip the hook. There was a special spot, where the big bass lived, in a tangle of drift wood and sunken trees, and he had been there for many years, growing larger each year. This year, the water level in the river was lower than usual, and the passage up the slough was more difficult than ever.
As the old man reached the special spot, he let the boat still, and sat there and looked at this place that he had dreamed about all year, waiting to come back. He sat there for a time of reflection, remembering the fights and victories for the fish, and the pleasure it had given him. Yes, this was a fish with heart, a river fish which grew up swimming against the river current, who evaded the predator Northern Pikes, that roamed the area looking for young bass, finally growing to the size that nothing messed with him….except the old man. The old man laid his fishing pole back down in the boat, tipped his hat in the direction of the sunken log, and picked up the oar, to ease back into the current and drift back in the way he had come. Sometimes it is enough to just know the fish is there, and to know that probably you could someday catch him, but choose to leave him, undefeated and free…the special fish that lives by the sunken log, in the Upper Mississippi River.