The rising action of the story begins when Sheila agrees to go with the narrator on his canoe to Dixford. He knows that this is his golden opportunity to impress her. Quite meticulously, he spends a day rubbing and polishing his canoe “until it gleamed as bright as aluminum ever gleamed.”
The actual suspense, however, begins to build up as soon as a huge bass gets hooked to the narrator’s fishing rod. This happens when he is already out on a date with Sheila. Only a few moments ago, he heard her contemptuous and dismissive remarks about fishing: she loathes his favorite pastime activity.
The rod has bent double, in all probability, by the weight of the big bass. The narrator doesn’t want to lose it as it’s going to be his biggest catch ever. But Sheila is on the boat, and at no point can she know about the catch, as “at that fragile moment,” he can’t just do anything that might vex her.
The author of the story, W. D. Wetherell, illustrates the narrator’s dilemma beautifully. The fourteen-year-old narrator puts to use all his might and skills not to lose the enormous bass. Overcoming all the hurdles, he manages to cling to it until they’re almost at Dixford.
Meanwhile, he keeps Sheila engaged in the conversation. While she continues talking about herself, he doesn’t give her the slightest hint that he’s tugging a giant bass.
All these events comprise the rising action of the story.
In this way, the narration beautifully sways between the fourteen-year-old narrator’s struggle to hold on to the giant fish and his efforts to make an impression on Sheila. Finally, the story reaches its peak with the arrival of the moment when he has to make a final choice between his biggest catch and the beautiful Sheila.