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A personal story about catching a big fish!

 

Carl Lesher with his big fish

At the Your Good Life Online Book Club we discussed Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” I’d read the book umpteen years ago. During the discussion, I was thinking about some similarities in the book’s story of the fish that was caught and the big fish that my husband reeled in many years ago.

My husband’s name was Carl Frank Lesher but he was introduced to me as “Lesh” and he will always be Lesh to me. He and I were vacationing in Hawaii in October of 1995. We were on a Cruise of the islands and at one port, a Deep Sea Fishing expedition was offered. Lesh signed up, while I (a non-fisher) chose instead a trip on a glass bottomed boat which provided a fascinating view of the marine life in the area.

When Lesh got back that day he was beaming as he showed me a picture of the 185½ pound Blue Marlin he had caught that day!! A man of few words, he told me of the long struggle reeling of it in – keeping the line taut, pulling back on the rod to slowly reel it in repeatedly. Each time he brought the fish a bit closer. Sad to say, I do not remember how long it took. I do know that the time could be better measured in hours rather than minutes. The Captain helped by extending the length of the excursion to allow Lesh time to bring the fish in. This was not an easy task. The fish weighed far more than its adversary. Several on the trip, he said, offered to take over for him but he refused. He said it wouldn’t be truly his catch unless be brought it in himself.

I can imagine his quiet, steely countenance as he and that fish struggled. His hands were extremely painful and his arms ached from the ordeal, but he never gave up. That fish was his. It is this action and attitude held by Hemingway’s Santiago, the fisherman, that made me think of Lesh and HIS big fish. It’s a quality that is called perseverance. If Lesh failed at something, it was never for a lack of trying. Be it fish or woman, he almost always got what he wanted. (Having a certain degree of the same quality, I put it another way as to the woman. I say that he relentlessly pursued me ‘till I caught him.)

The Captain took a photo of Lesh standing beside his catch being weighed. A sign on the fish reads:

Weight: 185½ lbs.
Fish: Blue Marlin
Angler: Carl Lesher
Date: 10-23-95
Boat: Impulse
Captain: Christiansen

Lesh was happy to have the photo and didn’t need a mounted trophy to herald his victory. He gave the fish to Captain Christiansen to thank him for his helpfulness in giving him the additional time. The Captain must have earned a tidy profit by selling the fish to a vendor.

That night as we dined, Lesh was one happy fellow. At a nearby table, we could hear the conversation. One woman said: “You should have seen it! There was an old man who caught a great, big fish. He worked so hard to reel it in, we were afraid he’d have a heart attack!” Momentarily, Lesh’s face fell. He did not think of himself as old. He had his 60th birthday just a week before. Soon, however, his smile returned. It was, after all, one of the very best days in his entire life.

 

Contributed by: Jo Lesher

Afterword:
More than 10 years later, our 2nd son, John, submitted the photo to a TV station’s sport’s section which showed fish catches. I was watching the evening news when the segment was aired showing the photo of Lesh’s big fish. I excitedly phoned John to tell him that his Dad was on TV. John was stunned. He thought I had “lost it.” It was after his Dad’s death at age 71. John was much relieved when he received a VCR of the show and a T-shirt bearing the show’s title.

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