This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

SPRINGVILLE, Ala.--Call it the young man and the sea.

Six-year-old Josh Dickert's battle with a 31.12-pound blue catfish may not have been of Hemingway proportions, but the catch was. The Springville youth is likely headed to the International Game Fish Association as a world record holder for the prize he landed last month on Lake Logan Martin.

Josh's catfish, which won't be recognized by the IGFA until it receives the proper documentation, surpasses the current junior world record of 21.03.

The 40-inch-long fish is almost as big as Josh, who is 42 inches tall and weighs 39 pounds. Josh did it all himself, though.

"I told him that the fish was his and he had to do all the work," his father, Joe, said. "It was 15 minutes before I finally saw the fish. I never dreamed it was that big."

To catch the fish, Joe Dickert dropped the live bait on a 25-pound test line to the bottom of the lake. The two saw the rod jump when the fish took the bait, then waited to make sure the fish swallowed it. After a few seconds, Dickert told Josh to set the hook.

"When he did, it was like Josh was on a seesaw," Dickert said. "The butt of the rod lifted Josh's feet plumb off the bottom of the boat. I thought it was going to toss him overboard."

Dickert said he had no idea how big the fish was but got an idea when Josh started begging him to take over the reel.

Dickert said Josh remained calm when the fish appeared, even though the two didn't have a clue how they were going to get it into the boat.

They struggled with it for some time while trying to get it into a net, but the fish eventually wore itself out and floated on its side beside the boat while Dickert scooped it up.

At that point, Dickert almost made a mistake that would have cost Josh the world record. Because they weren't going to eat the fish, Dickert persuaded his son to let it go once they took a picture of it. But because Dickert had accidentally forgotten his camera, they stuffed the fish into the shad tank and brought it home to take pictures.

That's when they realized it might be a world record.

To be a world record, the fish must be photographed and its length and girth measured. The fish must also be weighed on certified scales.

After that information was gathered, the fish was released live into a private lake in St. Clair County.

QUIZ

1. surpasses

2. certified

3. bait

4. toss

5. persuaded

6. remained

7. released

8. scooped

9. girth

10. reel

a. spool-like device that is used for winding a fishing line

b. lifted

c. throw; fling

d. guaranteed accurate

e. food placed on a hook to catch fish

f. distance around; circumference

g. goes beyond; exceeds

h. set free

i. convinced

j. stayed; continued to be

Answer key: 1. g, 2. d, 3. e, 4. c, 5. i, 6. j, 7. h, 8. b, 9. f, 10. a