DIXON – If you’re an avid angler, any day you drop a line and get a bite is a good day.
Saturday, Marshall Pankhurst and his daughter, Katelynn, had a freakin’ phe-nom-e-nal day.
That’s the day the Amboy father and daughter spent a good bit of time battling a big fat flattie, finally hauling the 45-pound lunker onto the banks of Page Park.
A day later, and Pankhurst still could not conceal his delight – at the catch, and with the shared experience.
“I couldn’t have brought that baby in without my daughter. We fought and fought,” he said. “We had a great time bringing it in; it was wonderful.”
Katelynn, 20, is back home for summer break from Illinois State, so she and her dad decided to go fishing.
It was a little before 1 p.m., and 90-some degrees – “hotter than you-know-what” – so they found a nice shady spot under a tree and baited their hook with an itty bitty goldfish from Bunny’s Bait shop.
A short cast later – maybe 20 feet out or so – and the cat fight was on.
“When it hit, he took off, and it was awesome ... it was unreal ... The reel was just screaming,” the 58-year-old Pankhurst said Sunday, as he and Katelynn were in Loves Park, eyeing the impending storm, and trying to get a little more fishing in.
“Every time it got close, it would just take off again. We fought it for 20 minutes; my arms were getting tired.”
Katelynn took the pole for a bit, to give Dad’s arms a rest, and when he took over again and finally muscled it to shore, she went down to bring it on in – only to find the fat cat was too big for their net.
“I had a large net, and it still didn’t fit,” Pankhurst said. “I’m used to catching 10- to 15-pounders.”
Fortunately, a passerby was on hand to help. They wrestled the whiskery river denizen onto the grass, and Pankhurst hoisted him – or her, he’s not sure – on high for a couple of photos, and the weigh-in.
The big cat tipped the scale at “a hair” over 45 pounds – before he broke it, Pankhurst said.
“I’ve been fishing flathead for years, this is the best one. That one was a handful,” he said.
After Katelynn and the good Samaritan snapped a few pics, the Pankhursts slipped their monster catch back into the river.
“That was fun. It was the most fun we’ve had fishing in a long time,” Pankhurst said, with sheer, unabashed glee.
“It couldn’t have been any better.”
Like any hard-won victory, this one taught its warriors a major life lesson, which Pankhurst was happy to impart to Katelynn:
“Honey, for Christmas, I need a bigger net!”
And, apparently, a new scale.