The End of a Whopper
Note: Yes, this is a repeat, but I get such a kick out of it. I hope you do too. Continuing from last time when August, Charley and Soapy were being pulled upstream near Oroville in their boat by the "monster:"
While our heroes were trying desperately to land the monster fish, the crowd did not want to miss anything, so picnic supplies were sent for, and the activities took on a carnival air, the most exciting event to happen in many years.
When the sun went down and darkness came, lanterns were lit in many spots. Charlie had his lantern on the boat also, which enabled onlookers to keep track of the battle as the boat streaked up and down stream all night. When the sun arose the next morning, the fight was still going on. The monster had slowed down some, but was still putting up a good fight. By mid-morning, the crowd had grown to 3,000. Oroville did not do much business that day.
About noon, the boat came close enough to shore for Johnson to leap out. He ran to the blacksmith shop where he fashioned a metal ring with several stout steel hooks. He fastened a length of sturdy clothesline to this and ran back to the river and managed to get back into the boat.
He slipped the ring over the butt end of the rod and worked it past the tip. Then the ring was lowered down the line and into the mouth of the giant fish. Once the hooks were set, the battle between man and beast was ended. Soapy and Charlie grasped the oars and worked the boat into the bank. They jumped out, and with the help of many spectators, pulled and pulled.
The whopper finally appeared from the depths. The giant head first, then foot after foot. Finally, a gigantic sturgeon lay there, eight feet, seven and a half inches long and 287 pounds.
The fish was loaded onto an express wagon and pulled through town as a parade, with citizens jumping and yelling. It was then hoisted up on a hastily built scaffold in front of J.B. Halls Saloon where the adventure began 24 hours before. Due to the hot weather, it did not take long for a strange odor to cause the crowd to stand farther and farther from the "prize."
The problem of what to do next was solved by members of Oroville's Chinatown, which consisted of about 10,000 people. It was explained that sturgeon was a delicacy in their homeland (caviar). They paid the fishermen 25 cents a pound, and everyone was happy with the deal.
The town returned to normalcy, but the story has remained a legend in Feather River County. The spot where the battle took place is covered now by the backwaters of the Oroville Dam.
Till next time...