The red and white plastic bobber plunges violently under the surface of the lake and you know you've got a whopper on the line. You yank hard on the rod to set the hook and the fight is on.
The struggle lasts for a good twenty minutes before you're able to coax the fish up near the side of the boat. At first you see nothing, then a vague shadow the size of a young child. This thing is a monster.
As the blurry edges of the shadow sharpen and the outline of the fish clearly becomes one of a titanic flathead catfish, you begin to hear a muffled, high-pitched whine. It sounds like it's coming from under the water, and you hope dearly nothing's wrong with your trawling motor.
You pull harder to bring the catfish to the surface, and with every inch it comes closer the whining intensifies.
Finally, the mouth of the gigantic muddy cat splashes out into the air.
"AUUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH!" . The whine explodes into a full-blown scream; you're horrified to find it was the catfish screaming all along.
The majestic creature screams all the way into your boat.
It screams as you pull the hook from its mouth.
Finally, you can bear the shame of this innocent animal's torture no more. You hurl it into your airtight ice chest and slam the lid. Another animal might live a few minutes in the empty cooler but the catfish doesn't breathe air.
The dying fish's screams, muffled by the insulated plastic of the ice box, fade slowly into nothingness as the once-proud leviathan passes into oblivion.
A tear falls down your cheek. You tell yourself you do this dark work to feed your family, but such self-reassurance is cold comfort to a serial murder of innocent animals.
You know you are beyond redemption.
"That was a beautiful story, Karen," you tell your daughter as she finishes her soapbox tirade. "Now eat your dinner."
"Fish is murder!" she screams.
"You can be a vegan when you buy your own food, dear," you reply smugly. "Finish your murder."