William Manchee

Novelist

STRIPER

In the darkness before dawn
They gather at the waters’ edge
The proud guides of Lake Texoma
Planning, plotting, anticipating the great chase

Their sleek boats appear ominous beneath
Shadows cast by the quarter moon
The mesmerizing rhythm of the waves
Heightens the anticipation of the hunt

As the stars dissolve into a pale blue sky
The battle-ready boats are slipped into the water
And one by one the big Evinrudes come to life
To transport hundreds of fisherman to their destinations

Beneath the vast waters of this great lake
Millions of stripers begin to move in search of shad
They travel in schools, darting north then east
Without warning they surface, dive, then scatter

The boats move quickly to favorite holes and flats where
Memories of past conquests play back in each angler’s mind
The guides watch their sonar intently for signs of life
As the anglers prepare to launch their lures into the depths

Then it happens, the engines stop and the lures sail skyward
Plunging into the choppy waters to begin their dive
Down, down, down they sink–twenty, thirty, forty feet
Until spotted by a hungry striper on the prowl

Instinctively the striped bass attacks the lure
But instead of savoring a tasty shad,
He feels the bite of the fisherman’s hook
And the battle for life and freedom begins

The frightened striper dives and darts in desperation
Trying to break the angler’s line or dance off his hook
Like his own life was in the balance, the fisherman
Reels in the fish and lifts it triumphantly into the boat

All eyes move to the conqueror holding his catch up high
Admiration in their eyes, they salute the first victor of the day
Each praying the next battle will be theirs and they too will
Prevail and return home in victory over the mighty striper



Copyright 2002 William Manchee