Introduction: Raise a 743-Pound Catfish

I want to tell you the story of the catfish that used to live in our pond out back.

Illustrations by Mozhi.

Step 1: Make a Farm Pond.

My uncle made our pond by burying a case of dynamite and setting it off with wires and a battery from a very long way away. The police were much more tolerant of blowing things up in those days.

Step 2: Stock Pond With Silurus Glanis.

Get yourself some silurus glanis. They'll eat each other until only one remains. It's pretty much like Highlander.

Step 3: Wait a Generation.

The one remaining catfish will eat everything that grows in the pond and everything you throw into the pond. For your purposes, you can assume that it also eats all the light that shines on the pond.

Step 4: Pond Is Now 61.8% Catfish.

You now have a monster catfish.

Step 5: Communicate.

I built myself a bench by the side of the pond, and I used to go down there in the afternoons and talk baseball with the catfish. He was a Cardinals fan. I guess Saint Louis reminded him of Smederevo.

Step 6: Empathize.

When I got a little older, the catfish decided I was ready to hear his three wishes. He wanted out of the pond, out of Minnesota and out of the Twentieth Century. I told him I would see what I could do.

Step 7: Build a Balloon.

Shoplifting, lawnmowing and newspaper delivery were never going to provide enough money to buy all the silk I was going to need. The catfish told me about a treasure buried near Raymond, Nebraska. (I suspect he extorted this information from of one of the other fish before he ate it.) I hitchhiked to Raymond. His directions led to a spot directly underneath a rusted-out 1923 Fageol Safety Bus. I had to spend all my shoplifting money to buy enough pulleys and cable to lift the damn thing. But the fish's information was good, and I hitched my way back to Minnesota with a backbreaking load of 500-Kurush coins. All the drivers were like, "Whatcha got in the duffle bag, har har har?"

Step 8: Build a Gondola.

See all these scars on my fingers? There was (naturally) a weeping willow overhanging the pond, and I stripped it bare to get enough wicker. It hurts just thinking about it. Not only that, but then I owed the willow tree three wishes. But that's another story.

Step 9: Build a Harness.

My uncle-on-the-other-side Kevin had years earlier (hell, maybe it was his dad who bought it) bought a freight car full of surplus mil-spec cotton webbing at an auction. He had always coveted the twelve-foot granite glacial erratic on the southwest corner of our farm (it's all sandstone for three hundred miles in every direction except for that one boulder.) I traded him the rock even-up for the webbing. He kept the freight car. If he ever figures out how to transport the erratic he's welcome to it.

Step 10: Liftoff!

You've heard of the Three-Body Problem? That's pretty much what we had going on with the balloon, the gondola and the catfish.

Step 11: Forty Days and Forty Nights.

Do you think I remembered to provide a safe way to get down? The catfish was starting to look like one of those kozakana gonomi they eat in Japan. I'm sure I wasn't any better. I had drunk my last can of Moxie two days earlier and I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold out.

Step 12: Strange Weather.

There was a shimmering. I checked with the fish, and he could see it too. Might have been a shared hallucination, or maybe we were flying through the aurora. Then it started to rain, and the balloon started to sink.

Step 13: Bratislava.

Oh thank god. It's a big city, but it was the quietest place I had ever been.

Step 14: Farewell.

I undid the last buckle on the harness and the fish slipped into the Danube. He was thinner than I had ever seen him, but also calmer. I was glad I had been able to grant at least some of his wishes.

Step 15: Oxcart.

A lovely young woman agreed to let me ride in her oxcart as far as Hamuliakovo. When we reached her home she removed the shawl from her hair and I decided to stay. The village baker agreed to let me carry wood for him, and after a few years he agreed to let me help bake. That's about when you came along. The old women in the village laughed at your mother and me for taking so long to have children. But let them laugh: Who are we to argue with fate?

Comments

author
siegeking (author)2015-07-31

AWESOME !!!!!!! I loved it, so very funny !!!!

author
LMNtal_Alchemist (author)2013-09-07

Awesome Story. Thank you so much for sharing.

author
clzfishing (author)2010-06-26

How do u get 1 inch and a half catfish to grow huge quickly because if I put him back in the water other fish will eat him.

author
fritz.bogott (author)clzfishing2010-06-26

Alas, I have only lies and tall tales to offer in answer to your question. Would you like one?

author
clzfishing (author)fritz.bogott2010-06-26

Sure I may as well get some sort of answer.

author
Hubiewan (author)2010-05-06

What kind of  substances, legal or not, that you might be using.  Might want to try some myself.   Great story, though.

author
fritz.bogott (author)Hubiewan2010-05-07

I'm drug-free, although I concede that compulsive storytelling resembles a form of mental illness.

If you liked this story, you might also enjoy the stories at http://fritzbogott.com.

author
TheMarchingNerd (author)2010-03-15

This is one of the best Instructables ever. This is beyond awesome.

author

You're very kind.  Many of my stories are up on my website http://fritzbogott.com, and I have printed up some of them as chapbooks (with illustrations by me not Mozhi, sadly).  I would love to send them to you if you'd like.

author
temp (author)2009-07-13

This should be like, framed or something. But, alas, the internet is rather hard to frame, and if it was printed not everyone would be able to see it. We've run into a dead end here.

author
fritz.bogott (author)temp2009-07-13

It's the furthest thing from a dead end.

It's CC-licensed--and Mozhi posted big scans of all the illustrations on flickr--so you are fully empowered to produce your own printed or digital versions and pass them around (or pretend they're religious tracts and leave them in Greyhound stations, etc.) We would celebrate and do handsprings! God knows we need a street team!

The closest we've come to a street team was at Maker Faire San Mateo 2008, where Fairegoers videotaped themselves reading from our novel Boggle and Sneak. The CC-licensed novel, the Maker Faire videos and the related instructable are all linked at boggleandsneak.com.

author
temp (author)fritz.bogott2010-01-02

I might have to do just that.

author
spenfisher12 (author)2009-09-20

cool

author

Thanks!

author
spenfisher12 (author)2009-09-20

...

author
spenfisher12 (author)2009-09-20

yeh i wish yuo can go to the hardwere store and buy dynamite but now nothing over 50 grains with out a licence

author
turner22 (author)2009-08-19

Dude, I honestly came to bash on this Instructable but it turned out to be way cool. way to go.

author
fritz.bogott (author)turner222009-08-20

Glad you enjoyed it!

author
cave man smash!! (author)2009-07-31

when i read the title i thought it would be about raising a pond fish, and i was slightly dissapointed when i found it was a story. the story itself, on the other hand was great. 6:10 for the ible 11:10 for the tale (ps i m not mathematically inept)

author

Yes, I'm ambivalent about the bait-n-switch. If there were a bin for "this isn't an instructable but instructables readers are the ideal audience for it," I would have filed it there. Meantime everybody is being very indulgent of my misconduct. Glad you enjoyed the story. I have a bunch of other recent ones up on http://novel-a-month.com and a makery/geekery novella up at http://novel-a-month.com/pismo (Wood gasification! Fibonacci numbers! Murder-sonnets!)

author
captswank (author)2009-07-14

thats awesome, almost didnt hit next step, glad i did, ty for the story

author
fritz.bogott (author)captswank2009-07-14

Glad you enjoyed it!

author
lemonie (author)2009-07-13

What is this ? And did MozhiDian give you permission? L

author
fritz.bogott (author)lemonie2009-07-13

This is an illustrated story that puts the Instructables format to mildly-ironic use. I hope you enjoy it! Mozhi is a talented illustrator with whom I frequently collaborate. He has really surpassed himself here!

author
lemonie (author)fritz.bogott2009-07-13

The Instructables format is something that you have made or done. I think we need another format for "how to deal with zombies" and other essays...?
Who is MozhiDian around here?

L

author
Biopyro (author)lemonie2009-07-14

I think we need another format for "how to deal with zombies" and other essays...? +1

author
lemonie (author)Biopyro2009-07-14

I've thought that an essay-type format would be useful for a while. For example - buying JB Weld, comparative prices on juices, computer bits etc. There's a lot of stuff people would like to put up that doesn't fit too well in any existing categories. OK this is a maker-site, so things that aren't "making" don't fit, but that doesn't stop people putting them in. L

author
fritz.bogott (author)lemonie2009-07-13

As far as I know, Mozhi doesn't have an Instructables account.

author
lemonie (author)fritz.bogott2009-07-13

OK, I'll read "He has really surpassed himself here!" as there I thought you meant he was here somewhere. Thanks for the clarification.

L

author
ironsmiter (author)2009-07-13

I don't care if it IS fiction! "If he ever figures out how to transport the erratic he's welcome to it." How dare the protagonist go and transport his fish, and then abandon the balloon, before even OFFERING to use it to try and move the rock for his uncle on the other side. Especially since that 12 foot bolder probably weighs pretty darn close to the 743 lb catfish. oops, my math was off. I was figuring a 12x8x8 granite boulder, and got 768. Forgot to then multiply by 175 for the granites density. I suppose there's probably a slight difference between 3/4 and 134.5 thousand lbs. I forgive him for not offering to do it with the balloon now :-)

author
fritz.bogott (author)ironsmiter2009-07-14

LOL!

author
CameronSS (author)2009-07-13

I'm not sure what exactly this is instructing, but it's pretty awesome anyway.

author
fritz.bogott (author)CameronSS2009-07-13

I confess that's a mystery to me too. I'm delighted you enjoyed it!

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Bio: Fritz Bogott live in woods, write with pen, cook with fire.
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