Did you hear about the one that got away? Perhaps the big fish tale is among the oldest ever told. But there’s plenty of fish tales swimming in the sea, rippling the waters of ponds and creeks around the world.
Writers hauled in the catch this week, hooking tales to keep your interest. You don’t have to fish for the best flash fiction to read — this collection is fully stocked.
The following are based on the April 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fish tale.
PART I (10-minute read)
Impossible Homework Assignment by Molly Stevens
“Mom, the worst thing happened today!” said Charli, flinging her backpack onto the counter.
“Oh, what?” asked her long-suffering mother, immune to teen melodrama with daily exposure.
“Mrs. Mills is making us write an essay about fishing. The thought of slimy worms and stinky fish make me sick, and I don’t want to write about it.”
“Perhaps she wants you to stretch your writing muscles,” her mother said.
“She’ll be sorry when she sees puke stains on my paper.”
“I’m sure you can do it.”
“No, I can’t! What’s for dinner? I’m starving.”
“Fish sticks and French fries.”
Hooked by D. Avery
“Earnest, I’ll teach you all you need to know about fishing.”
Unable and unwilling to bait his own hooks, Marge had Earnest use a lure. Earnest practiced casting, the lure flying about in all directions.
“Earnest, I’m gonna try my luck further down.”
Marge did not get far. The treble hook of Earnest’s lure pierced Marge’s pants and was firmly set in her ample cheek.
After the ER, eating take-out fish dinner, Marge admitted fishing could be a pain in the ass. The next time she went, Earnest stayed home. He had all he needed to know about fishing.
The Fishing Trip by Lisa A. Listwa
“Been forever since I fished these waters. Or any. Won’t be much good.”
Joe watched as his grandfather stood in the shallows, silent and motionless. He hadn’t been himself since Gran died.
“Ya know, Gramps,” said Joe quietly, “you always said it didn’t matter if we caught anything, just that we get our toes wet and try. Gran would want you to get your toes wet.”
Gramps looked down at the water splashing over the toes of his boots.
“Well, I’m halfway there already…”
Gramps straightened his hat, stepped out of his boots, and splashed into the cool water.
Passing On The Spear by Luccia Gray
Manolin pounded his fists on the weathered door. “Santiago, I’ve brought you coffee!”
The old man had spent the last weeks chasing a giant marlin and fighting off sharks with a simple knife on his way back home. The boy admired him as the best fisherman.
“Get dressed, Santiago! We need to go out to sea again. There are plenty more marlins to catch!”
Santiago looked up, his eyes shining and beads of sweat dripping down his brow. “You go. Here, I give you my spear.”
“But you must teach me!”
“Not anymore. Now I must join the lions.”
Fishing Reflections by Christina Costner
It was the one thing he had in common with his father, their love of fishing. The amicable silence they shared once their rods were cast, waiting for a bite or better still, catch. The only noise came from the stream trickle as water bubbled over mossy rubble and rocks.
A year after his burial, he packed his most prized tackled, loaded his truck and set off for their spot. He was comforted by the familiar stream bubble and poured whiskey from his flask. Casting his rod he whispered goodbye to his boy, remembering the amicable silence once shared.
The Pacific by Kay Kingsley
If I close my eyes, I’m a kid again, standing in the bait shop with my dad and sister, filled with excitement, in awe of the shining lures that look like toys on the walls.
They beg a closer look, even tricking little humans to their innocence, but behind the glitter hides a hook of death.
I hold the Styrofoam bowl of night crawlers in the dirt, thousands of legs attempting a fruitless dance of escape.
We head to the coast.
On the pier, we underhand cast lines into the morning fog of the Pacific and wait for a bite.
Big Catch by Heather Gonzalez
My uncle always took the older kids on the boat to go deep sea fishing at the annual family reunion, and I was finally going.
My older brother was the first to feel a tug on his line and caught a baby shark. Everyone patted him on the back with pride. I finally felt a tug on the line of my Barbie fishing pole. I dramatically reeled in my big catch so everyone would notice.
“What did I catch?” I yelled.
I looked down at the end of my fishing line to see a seashell stuck to my hook.
Fishing by Ladyleemanila
There were two fishermen from South China Sea
They were fishing, and sea was choppy
They have not caught any fish
And they are getting anguish
The wives were there waiting and getting angry
There was a fisherman whose name is Kurdapyo
A henpecked husband of Rosario
They have six kids at home
Their names in palindrome
If they don’t eat, you will soon hear their bellow
His friend’s name is Antonio Santos
Whose wife Rosita is also crossed
He thought it would be fun
To go out with such a pun
Engine spews out black cloud of exhaust
Farmers at Sea-A Fishy Tale by Bill Engleson
“You’ve talked about this before?”
“From time to time. I was a baby. I have no clear recollection.”
“Your parents were fishers?”
“Yes. Landlubbers who set to sea for the adventure. Then I came along.”
“That must have added to the thrill of the undertaking.”
“So, they told me. It must have been very hard for them.”
“Living on a fish-boat with a baby?”
“I think it leaked some.”
“Well, maybe not a whole lot. Enough for me to kiss the earth and thank my lucky stars I survived.”
“You’re exaggerating, right?”
“Only enough to make it interesting.”
Fishing by Michael Grogan
The angel looked down on the row of men, each with a pole, each with a line extending into the water.
One man pulled in his line and on the end was a wriggling beast the man removed and dropped into a bucket at his feet.
Inquiring he was told they were fishing. It was an earthly pastime, and people found it relaxing.
The angel thought it looked easy and taking the pole from a sleeping man cast the line in. From the water came a rush of swine fish reminding him of his ability to cast out swine.
Fishing by Irene Waters
The road stretched out long and straight through the desert. Signs of civilisation appeared. Bait 1 km. Fishing tackle Menindee General Store. “It’s hard to believe…” I stopped for now in front of me I saw a huge lake. An oasis that replaced the red sand.
“Yep, it’s hard to believe.” The water shimmered in the sunlight. We stopped and bought gear and headed to the water’s edge. We fished all afternoon without a bite, but our friendship was becoming as solid as cement.
On returning to our friend’s place, he said, “Well they caught you hook, line and sinker.”
Reeling in the Fishermen by Norah Colvin
She sat by the window watching as the invisible painter colored the morning sky. These moments lost in waking dreams, with the youngest of her brood suckling quietly, were precious. Slamming car doors and laughter interrupted the silence but not her thoughts. An occasional word invaded her consciousness…haul, fishing, catch. Wait—her man, a fisherman, was home. The night was not conducive to fishing. She leaned forward. Two dark figures unloaded a ute. They had neither lines nor nets, and it sure wasn’t fish in those boxes. “Fisherman, eh?” she thought as she dialed the local police. “You’re hooked.”
The Fisherman Becomes The Fish by Teresa Grabs
For close to thirty years Jeff fished on the Grand Banks. Dismissing tales of the magic haddock, he would reel in anything that had the misfortune of swimming near his boat.
“Last summer, we pulled in a baby orca,” he bragged to the new baiter.
“The orca isn’t a fish,” the baiter noted. “It’s a mammal.”
“If it comes from the sea, it’s a fish! Get back to work!”
That night Jeff dreamed of being caught in a giant net dropping silently from the sky.
“If it comes from the sea, it’s a fish,” the alien told his son.
First Bite by Papershots
This hierarchy nature has set: the seagull will get first bite, whoever fished, whatever was fished. Its menacing mew distances two black crows, left with a minor, resigned twang. They do stay, though. In the sand near the shore, something glistens and sparkles. Seagull swoops down, crows stand back; seagull grabs half of it – a crackling, snapping sound – and flies back up; crows can approach now, get whatever’s left. The sky responds by being blue; lapping waves give rhythm to a natural occurrence. It was plastic. It was plastic. It was nothing more than a piece of unadulterated plastic.
The One That Got Away by Sarah
I was looking forward to the fishing trip. I always loved the thrill of the catch… well, most of the time! Sometimes I came away hungry!
Arriving at my favourite spot, I saw a couple of men were already there. “Ah, some healthy competition,” I thought. I set myself up and waited.
A few fish were congregating but were disappointingly undersized. They wouldn’t sate my appetite!
Suddenly, I spied a good-sized, juicy-looking trout. I swooped in; snapped up the wriggling fish in my beak, and flew away.
“Hey, Bob! That bird just stole your fish!” a man onshore yelled.
Bet on the Lady by Paula Moyer
Jean and Steve had always wondered about the “launches” – big flat boats steered by a fishing guide.
That Saturday night on Mille Lacs, Wayne steered them to “his” spot. He baited Jean’s hook, cast out. Steve did his own. They waited. In the dusk, they spied a rowboat, two men. Waiting.
A bobble. “I’ve got something.”
Wayne reeled in the walleye on Jean’s rod, big and flopping.
In the fish house, Wayne gutted, chatted. The rowboat guys gutted theirs. “We had a bet going,” one said. “I bet on the lady.” He grinned.
Jean laughed. “I’d bet on Wayne.”
The Smallest Fish Story by Chelsea Owens
I caught it -I did; my first fish! I’ll tell you how I did it:
First, all dressed, I ran to the pond. I found a pole, just laying there, and hooks and bait and such. I picked it up and swished it ’round, and -before it even hit the water- something wriggled at its end.
I brought it close and THERE! A flapping, fidgeting fish was hooked. He was a ‘beaut: all sparkly rainbows and twisting, flailing life.
I watched him gape-mouthed struggling, when I heard a shout, “Hey, kid! That’s mine!” and had to come back home.
Gone Fishin’ by Deborah Lee
“I’m completely renewed, you know how revitalizing a whole makeover is — new cut, new clothes, new toilette, new everything,” Torrey chirps. She raises one wrist, takes a deep sniff, smiles at Lesley, smiles even more brilliantly at Alan’s attorney across the conference table. Alan couldn’t make this settlement negotiation; business. That suits Torrey. She flips her hair and sniffs her wrist again, simpers at the attorney.
“Ah, yes,” the man says drily. “Deep Woods Off No. 5.”
Torrey’s mouth snaps shut audibly.
“You were angling for a compliment, Mrs. Graff,” the attorney says. “Be careful what you fish for.”
Heavenly Timing by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“How about him?”
Gabby considered, lazily twirling her lariat. “If he finds what he needs on Earth, I’ll hold off collecting.”
“Timing is everything?” Petra peered over the cloud’s edge, wings stilled.
That’s when Gabby spied her. “Now that’s potential!”
A young woman perched on the metro bench, just three feet behind the young man. She adjusted her sandal strap, while he stared into his smartphone.
“Just fish that phone out of his hand. Send it her way!” Petra pointed. Gabby launched her lariat.
The young woman was an excellent catch.
At least, that’s what Grandpa always told us.
PART II (10-minute read)
How Mel got Her Own Back by Aweni
Smacking his broad gold lips, Donald did not see the malevolent look Mel gave him.
She made those babies. They should be hers for the eating, not Donald’s.
Dolefully, she plotted with the others. They shared her sentiments.
When a golden-haired girl, not more than six walked in with her mother screaming excitedly, “Goldfish! Goldfish!”, the plotters knew their chance had come.
When the net descended, Donald was pushed and shoved. Next, he knew, the girl was staring at him with glee through the walls of a clear bag. While Mel mourned the eggs, she should have had.
Inside the Goldfish Bowl by Anne Goodwin
After her injection, Matty enters the lounge, eschewing the armchairs lining the room. Not because of the dull ache where the needle pierced her derriere. Not because the wipe-clean upholstery sticks to her skin. But because she feels too energised for idleness.
From behind the glass partition, a student observes Matty’s elegance in circling the room. Passing their tank, the goldfish pause their back and forth to watch too. Until a maid scattering crumbs across the water makes them swim to the surface, mouths agape. Magic dust to keep them merry. Without it, this place would send them mad.
First Impressions by Susan Sleggs
I was late picking up my new out-door enthusiast girlfriend to take to dinner at my parents and never noticed something on the front of her wool jacket, but my mother did. On the way home I asked what the small opaque disks were.
“Oh dear, they’re fish scales. I helped Dad clean the fish we had for breakfast.”
“I want my parents to welcome you back if you’ll go with me again, please be more careful.”
“I’ll do that but you should know welcoming a red-neck like me and accepting me is two different things in my book.”
Intersections? by JulesPaige
The anglers are out again. On the other side of the creek. I mow to disturb their silence. I want them far away. I want my own golden silence reflected by the day’s spring sun.
stay in the shadow
you old trout, leave the lures be;
let me see your stripes
So what’s my angle? In my secluded shaded sanctuary. A good friend sent me a sticker “She believed she could so she did” – I peek through curtained windows in awe of a new day, beginning again.
staying in shadow
I am encouraged to show
my own moxey stripe
Fishing for Dinner by Di
I’d never been fishing before and was afraid to make an ass of myself as I didn’t know how to bait my hook, cast a line, or reel one in if I caught one. Everyone else were dab hands until we were aboard the privately hired boat and I discovered they were dangler anglers.
I felt better, relaxed and began to have fun.
I caught the first fish, an ugly brute with scissor teeth I was informed was a snapper.
I caught some others too, and they all went in the bucket.
Boy, did they taste good!
Fishing by the moon is rising
They were fishing for hours without a bite when a gentleman came and cut a willow switch and upon its narrow end tied some twine. Dipping the cord into the lake, he seemed then to utter a prayer and finished by removing his hat and casting a low, slow bow towards the water.
Within minutes, he landed a fish, and every five minutes another until he had six. Then he left.
After an hour, the first man rose and bowed to the water, then the second, then the third. The gentleman, hidden away, chuckled as he watched the scene.
Fishing…by Debra Kiyono
Confused about my feelings, I thought that talking to a friend would help.
“Let’s go fishing, now! It`s going to make you feel better!” – Marcus guaranteed.
Couple of hours later, trapped in a boat, I wanted to scream.
Marcus was clearly displeased when I stood up. Before he could say anything, I dove into the water, taking my time to come to surface again.
“You are scaring the fishes away!” – He shouted angrily.
Having fun, I didn`t bother and swam calmly and smoothly to the shore.
“Definitely, I feel better!” – I realized while letting myself lie on the sand.
A Fish Tale by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer
For one day each year, she could swim in the sea. The rest of the time, Aria found herself choked with fear knowing she couldn’t swim.
At dawn, Aria closed her eyes and dove beneath the waves. With firm strokes, she slipped between the green ribbons of seaweed undulating below. Golden sunlight streaks pierced the darkness reflecting off the jeweled scales of a massive fish maneuvering in the deep.
Aria headed toward the reef. She had to make the most of the day. She flipped her tail in joyous abandon. It was a good day to be a mermaid.
Holiday Resorts by Reena Saxena
The lantern fish was holding a seminar for other species.
“The bottom of the ocean has a temperature of minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and you need to learn to survive it. We teach you another sport – use your lower pectoral fins as legs to walk on the bottom of the ocean, and explore it well. There are plenty of succulent plants to feed on….”
“Is it a kind of holiday resort for us, with leisure activities thrown in?”
“Call it survival… if you wish to protect yourself from the human picnickers wielding fishing rods and have a good time.”
Territory by thedarknetizen
As I move around, I see the little ones scurrying about. One look at me, and they start running helter skelter. And they should.
This is my territory. Every rock, every plant, is owned by me. If they choose to make their way here, they choose to give up their freedom and submit to my sovereignty. I am the king. Wait, I see a shadow looming over me. It is humongous, covering my entire territory. I guess it is time for me to exit these waters and head elsewhere.
After all, there is always a bigger fish out there.
Fish Tale by Frank Hubeny
He wondered if a mermaid was a fish or if he’d catch anything today or if the soldiers would spot him.
Once he was robbed. They almost killed him with the beating. He didn’t mind dying, but he had to bring fish home to Martha and Peter.
He was too delirious from the bombings and hiding to catch food. He slept till she woke him handing him more fish than he’d ever expected to see. “For Martha and Peter. And you.”
As she turned to dive into the water, he thought he heard her say, “I’m not a fish.”
“The Origin of Goldie” by Goldie
Nearly a year ago I found myself in the woods at the crack of dawn. The dew was still gently coating the fallen leaves as if protecting them from my destructive footprints. Feeling lost, I considered my options: I could turn around and follow the beaten path that got me here or keep moving forward into the uncharted territory of the forest.
As soon as I stepped forward, I noticed a fish floating ahead of me.
“Golden fish, please grant me a wish.”
“What you need is to write. Go forth and create a WordPress blog.”
A new beginning.
Blood Sport by Nicole
Joanna hated witnessing the doe-eyed trophies suspended inverted from a scaffold at the end of the harbor, their purple tongues pointing toward the bloodied ground. She hated watching fish with gaping gills flop to death on the bottom of her family’s boat. She loathed the mounted antlered head above the fireplace and the bearskin rug in front of the hearth. Harpooned whales may have sustained her ancestors, but they haunted her dreams. Joanna understood the hunted heart. She didn’t see the point in hurting innocents and ached for the day when she’d no longer be her papa’s favored prey.
She Fought So Hard by Kyrosmagica
For a wee woman, you certainly pull in the big boys,’ joked keen fisherman Robin.
Melinda smiled; it had been a memorable day, she’d caught the biggest fish going. For a moment she’d forgotten her punishing chemotherapy struggle.
She never complained even when her hair fell out and grew back curly. Instead, she laughed; but it sounded hollow. I doubt she recognised herself.
Soft-hearted Melinda died within days of her fiftieth birthday. At the funeral I picked up her old school photo; I wept, I never knew she’d been a gymnast. Cancer the guilt bringer, I should have known.
The Ghost Fish! by Anita Dawes
I always feel like a picture in a colouring book, snow white, waiting for paint to fill in between the lines. Bright orange and white stripes. Blue and red, something to give me life.
I am a ghost swimming in an ocean of colour, shunned by my fellow beings, happy in their part of the universe while I swim alone, unwanted by the brightness around me.
I have seen how easily a child colours in while her father is fishing. I should throw myself on the hook and hope the child can colour in one lonely white clown fish…
Fish’N’Chips by Ritu Bhathal
“Oh, he’s going to be so excited!”
“Fish will finally have his Chips with him!”
Voices filtered through the water, reaching Fish as he swam around in his little tank.
What on earth were they going on about? Why was he going to get excited? Who Chips?
Just then, the water rippled, and he came face to face with Chips for the first time.
“Let me just get this straight,” he said, “this is MY tank, and-“
Chips opened her mouth into a coy O shape and let loose a flirtatious bubble stream…
“-I think I love you!”
Mermaid Therapy by Peregrine Arc
“Mermaid therapy, this way, please. Swim, lightly. Come now.”
“Excuse me, my good merman–is this the meeting spot?”
“Depends, what meeting are you looking for?”
“The symposium for mermaid therapy…?”
“Why, yes–I’m the therapist. Now tell me, what ails you? Come now, no one’s around.”
“It’s my son, Crustacean. He keeps having nightmares about hooks floating above his head. Ever since the incident with the trawler last summer, he hasn’t been the same. Can you help us? We’re desperate for relief.”
“Yes, I can. I have one word: magnets.”
Fishy Story by floridaborne
“So you won’t take your daughter fishing?” The old man in a captain’s hat asked.
“I don’t dare,” I replied.
“Why?” he chuckled.
Good. He took the bait. “She had a field trip to a chicken processing plant. They go in squawking and come out in packages. Now, she runs screaming every time I serve it at home.”
“Sometimes she hears the ghosts of chickens haunt her.”
The sound of squawking seemed to come from everywhere. The old man paled and backed away.
Did I mention I’m a ventriloquist? Five annoying tour guides down, one to go.
Osprey by Ann Edall-Robson
She’d pined for the creek where she’d fished. Riding to the old bridge on her horse, her fishing rod fitting nicely in an old gun scabbard her dad had given her.
She had heard there was a new bridge and fish were no longer running in the creek. Sad, she thought as she drove on the gravel road towards the memories.
She could see she was being watched from the top of the steel girders. If the osprey were nesting here, it was a sure sign there were fish in the creek. Good thing she’d brought her fishing rod.
Fishing Opener by Charli Mills
Harriette wrapped her arms around Ralph’s girth. He slowed down when the trail dipped and skirted puddles of brown snowmelt. A month ago, they had enjoyed the last snowmobile trek of the season. Now it was time to ride the four-wheeler. The couple had strapped their fishing rods, gear and a picnic lunch to the back. At last, mud-splattered, the rough trail broke out of the trees and opened to an inlet along the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Ralph quickly grabbed gear and headed up the small stream to catch trout. Harriette left her pole and fished for agates.
Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle
Later that afternoon, Beth set a fishing line which she left overnight. Beth was very good at this and often caught an eel or two. She would dig for worms in the kitchen garden to bait the line.
The eels were a greenish-brown and looked like snakes, which was a bit creepy, but they were very good, cooked in milk and water in a frying pan, and flavoured with pepper.
Elsie really hoped that Beth would catch some eels for them to eat. In the morning, Beth would run down to the river to see what she had caught.
When A Friend Angles For A Companion, Beware You Might Get Hooked by geoffle
‘Do you like fishing, Logan?’
‘Never tried it. Too much sitting and staring.’
‘Don’t you think we could do with more sitting and staring?’
‘I get enough of that in the loo, Morgan.’
‘I’m talking about contemplative sitting, not your comprehensive shitting.’
‘It’s still too boring. There’s so much more to life.’
‘But we need peace and quiet if we’re going to appreciate what life has to offer.’
‘I’d be no good at it. You’d hate it with me fidgeting all the time.’
‘You’d be great, the perfect companion.’
Koi Fish in the Pond by Miriam Hurdle
“Mabel, I want to have a pond in our garden.”
“Humm, a great idea, but what for, dear?”
“For having ‘yu’ and lotus in the pond.”
“The lotus flowers are elegant and symbolize purity. Why having ‘yu’ in the pond?”
“Well, ‘yu’ means fish, but ‘yu’ of a different word means wishes come true.”
“Now you got my head spinning.”
“Have many colors of koi, especially gold color.”
“Like the ones in Chinese or Japanese Garden?”
“Yes, I’ll order the koi from Caspian or Black Sea. They are the fast-growing koi.”
“Our ten-thousand wishes will fast come true also.”
Fish Tale by CalmKate
Just like Brokeback Mountain I take my fishing rod to escape family and life, down to my favourite river spot and set up camp.
Always buy the live bait on my trip here then release them later in my veggie patch. Talk about torture threading them onto a hook, don’t they know that what goes down comes round.
Never used that fancy rod … those poor unsuspecting fish swimming about minding their own business. After all every man needs time out and holding that pole is just a substitute for something else similar that we blokes like to do.
Thar Blows by D. Avery
“What’re ya doin’, Kid?”
“What’s it look like?”
“Goin’ fishin’. But with that outfit? Ocean rod? Trollin’ reel?”
“Go big or go home, Pal.”
“I think yer flounderin’ Kid. Yer way overrigged fer the stock pond or the stream. Ya know thar ain’t a bass hole on the ranch.”
“I’m thinkin’ big, Pal. Gonna bait up right here in the paddock.”
“Hmmph. Yer hookin’ yer leader to a kite?”
“Yep. Let the line out… look at ‘er go… higher…. I’ve caught the wind, Pal! Look at that kite soarin’ over the ranch!”
“Kid, this is relaxin’.”
“Yep. Catch. An’ release.”