The submarine chaser was out of sight. No other craft appeared upon the open sea beyond the Sue Bridger’s present anchorage. The boys threw out a little chum, and then dropped their hooks.
“First nibble!” whispered Torry. “Now watch me play him.”
But the first few “nibbles” proved to be merely “hook-cleaners.” The fish got the bait, and the boys had the exercise of swishing their lines in and out of the water.
Channel bass run to large sizes. Torry told about seeing one hung up on the dock at Seacove weighing sixty-four and a quarter pounds.
“That’s all right,” grumbled Frenchy, who had just lost a nibbler, “but a two-pound one will satisfy me. What would we do with a sixty-four-pound bass?”
“Keep it alive and teach it to draw a little red wagon,” chuckled Ikey. “Oi, oi! That would be fine!”
“It would be as big as Dugan’s goat. Don’t know why it shouldn’t be tackled up and made use of,” Whistler agreed, dryly.
“Only they lack feet—Gee-whillikins! what’s this?” burst forth Torry.
He certainly had a bite at last. His reel hummed and the fish started for the coast of Spain; or, at least, in that general direction.
He had to play the fish well to save his line, for the latter was neither a very heavy one, nor new. The bass ran stubbornly out to sea.
“That’s a whale, Torry,” Whistler declared, breaking off in a military tune to make the observation. “You should have harpooned it.”
“I’m going to get him aboard here if I swamp the boat!” declared Torry with vigor.
The boys were so interested in his playing the fish for the next ten minutes that they did not cast a glance shoreward. Finally the bass was tired out, and Torry drew him in close to the boat. Whistler leaned over the side and, with a maul, tapped the bass on the head.
But when he got his hand in the gills of the fish they clamped down upon his fingers, and, in the struggle, he was almost hauled out of the boat.
“Hey! Help!” he bawled. “What are you fellows? Just passengers?”
Frenchy gave him a hand on one side and Ikey on the other; between them the trio hauled a ten-pound bass over the gunwale. Torry was dancing around in glee and shouting at the top of his voice.
“Hush!” commanded Whistler. “You’ll scare even the sharks and dogfish away.”
“Or you’ll dance through the rotten old bottom boards of the boat and we’ll have to walk ashore,” added Frenchy.
But it was a great catch, and the others could feel nothing but envy of Torry’s success. He had set a pace that none of them could equal; for after that there did not seem to be another bass of even two pounds’ weight in the whole ocean.
“Hey, fellows!” ejaculated Ikey suddenly. “Who’s this coming?”
“Somebody walking on the water, is it?” chuckled Frenchy.
“Aw, you needn’t be correcting my English,” responded Ikey. “There are no medals on you for being a purist.”