Ma wakes up Pa and tells him that he has to go down and catch a big catfish for supper. Pa doesn't want to but says he'll eat his hat if he doesn't catch one.
Pa and Shag go down to the lake and Pa tries several times to catch a large and wily catfish named Whiskers. Each time he tries, he ends up getting the worst of it. He tries everything from a fishing pole, bear trap, dynamite, boxing the fish (twice), using a club, using a rifle, and using a cannon. None of these work.
Ma fixes supper for the family. They have to eat grits and Pa winds up having to eat his hat.