Bear told Willie not to forget the anchor as they were getting ready for their weekly fishing trip. "We don't want them big old catfish pulling our boat around and getting us off our spot!"
The "anchor" was an 8-inch concrete block tied to a 40-foot piece of rope. After 30 years of making buildings sturdy and visually appealing, these block masons just couldn't get the business out of their blood, and they kept finding new uses for the main tools of their trade.
Chattahoochee Lake boasted the biggest catfish in the state. Talk of hauling in 20- and 30-pound catfish flew across the local pub. Bear and Willie considered themselves the most knowledgeable jug fishermen in these parts, and they had landed many a good one over the past 30 years.
Competition was about as tough on the water during the monthly catfish rodeos as it was in the workplace. Everybody was always looking for an edge. Bear and Willie thought their favorite fishing hole, a big flat area just 7 feet deep that dropped off into the main channel of the river, was a secret. Today, though, they would see their rival, Jake "Big Hand" Smith, sitting over their spot and hauling in the catfish.
This meant war. They had a big surprise for him in the upcoming tournament. "We'll fix him," Willie said.
The following Monday, Willie told the story to the plant manager at their block supplier.
The manager noted that "Big Hand" had recently bid with prices from the block plant in the next county on a high school job. He said, "I've got a couple of 12s and an anchor line that will slow him down at the blastoff."
The next weekend, no one saw Willie tie the two 12-inch blocks to the back of Jake's boat by attaching a small steel cable to the rings in the back of the boat before the tournament. Although Jake had a souped-up 25-hp engine on his boat, it wouldn't make any difference today. This would give Bear and Willie enough of a head start to beat him to the spot. As they drew for blastoff positions, Jake said, "It don't make no difference what number I get-I'm gonna beat y'all to the best spot anyway. I got the fastest boat on the river!"
After everyone drew their number and lined up, the starter fired his pistol, and everyone took off at their 10-second intervals. When Jake got to his and gave it the gas, the boat stood almost straight up. He sure looked funny grabbing the side of the boat to keep from falling out of it. It didn't take him long to realize he'd been had. He didn't have anything to cut the cables, so he had to raise the "extra anchors" up into the boat and take them with him everywhere he went that day. The added weight slowed him down, and by the time he finally got underway, all the good spots were taken.
The bragging rights at the weigh-in went to Bear and Willie, who caught four fish weighing almost 38 pounds each. The boys at work would be waiting to hear the scoop on Monday morning while they were getting ready to head to their latest job.
They were laying the foundation and walls for the new high school in town. Not only had they outfished Jake, but they also outbid Jake's company for the job.
They didn't get the last laugh this time, though. On the way home from the tournament, Jake had stopped by the yard where Bear and Willie worked and emptied his bottle of skunk oil scent into their pickup truck. They would remember the next few trips to the site for a long, long time.