Monday, March 9, 2015

A Fish Out of Water

This month we bring you an infographic, created by one of our ninth grade students, that examines what some of the best YA novels all have in common, and a memoir with a title that works on more than one level.  Enjoy!

by Ashley W.
Grade 9

A Fish Out of Water

The silent ripples of the water slowly decelerated, gaining more distance between the miniature waves. A flash of light, a projectile, a splash. A menacing metal hook enters the dark waters. Shadows dart away against the green atmosphere of the murky water. A glimmering line remains taut on the stern fishing rod. A small band of boys walk around the round pond, surrounded by the concrete divider. Solemn faces of fishermen wait patiently, staring with slim eyes, filled to the brim with expectation.  
We carry a grimy, white bucket around along with a tackle box that has a vibrant red lid. Each of us three boys carries our own fishing rod, taking quick glances at the water searching for our next catchThe experience was new to me, a novice in this field, but to my cousins--Kyle and Josh--it was a child's game. We perch ourselves around a large plant that cantilevered itself over the water, casting a dark shadow. 
 Kyle's eyes examined the dark area intently, "See over there," he pointed, leaning closer to the water. "There are some good-sized bait fish in this area." 
He turned to Josh and I, and we stepped to the white bucket to find the Styrofoam white package bound with a rubber band. We opened it up and revealed to the light the squirming, glistening worms, weaving themselves through the thick dirt.  
"Here's how you really secure these worms on tightly," Josh stated. He took the worm and in one fluid and quick motion, was able to pin it securely on the hook in an overlapping ball. 
I tried it myself and ended up with a sloppier, looser version of his example, but nonetheless it would suffice. Josh and I trailed our lines in the water.  Our eyes sometimes spotted a pack of these small sunfish at one end or the other. We recognized the rippling water, moving silhouettes, overshadowed by the shady patch covering the water. The words, "Come on, over here," and, "Closer...Closer..." were muttered at these fish in spite of the fact that we knew they couldn’t hear us. The occasional thief would quickly strike at our bait, sending a jolt through the rod that transferred into a shock of excitement. The hooks would then surface along with the hope that we could salvage some of our precious bait, even though most times we were left disappointed.  
"WHOAAAAHHHH!" Josh's diminutive voice exclaimed, gathering the attention of the other silent fishermen. He picked up his line to reveal his prize. His golden trophy was a small yellow fish with a stern look and a determined demeanor. It wiggled and tried to free itself from the bond of his hand, but all to no avail. The white bucket was emptied and replaced with a scoop of murky green water. The prize was dropped in and occasionally admired by us.  
"Now we can direct our attention to the Largemouth Bass," Kyle announced to us with pride. Kyle carefully hooked the fish onto his line, making the catch, the bait 
"Will and I are gonna catch more bait fish over here," said Josh, who beckoned me over to him. We continued to bait for the small yet sly little dwellers. We would wait and see a ripple, feel a tug, and lift a soaking wet line covered in watery plants and disappointment. Kyle kept his distance from the underdeveloped parts of the area, all the way to the side  that faced the grassy cemetery. There he knew he would find the mature bass that preyed on the small sunfish on the other side of the pond-- a secret of the area. 
Several small catching escapades passed, the clear wind blew and a silence fell upon the pond. A small family mourned over a snapped line on a legendary sized bass. We had a small collection of bait fish accumulating, curious glances given as they swam in their tight quarters.  
Kyle methodically used one of these fish and placed it on my line. Rather than the stereotypical whip of the fishing rod to send it soaring, I released him back into his home with a simple drop. The small being took a speck amount of time to reacquaint himself with his natural pond habitat. Shadows lurked and traveled with the elastic waves of the water above. The confused creature presented his acceptance to this newfound habitat by travelling hither and thither, but then quickly turning back as if the water had gotten harshly cold. It seemed to repeat this process in every direction, until I coaxed it along by taking careful steps near the ledge of the pond, showing it new areas at its own pace, like a dog on a leash. 
"Hey, stop there!" Kyle commanded in a lighthearted but forceful attitude. 
"What's wrong?" I asked naively. I observed Josh walking fervently down towards us. 
"Look at the fish. It is afraid of something, notice its nervous and jittery attitude." I looked and saw the feverishly squirming nature of the small creature. 
"Yeah, it's definitely being followed by something," Josh added. I knew a large bass was somewhere in the vicinity. Either that or a formidable snapping turtle that patrolled these waters, one with which I had encountered last time I fished here. I assumed it was more likely the former bass.
Splash! From the water arose a green creature, contrasting against the deep blue water, which revealed the beast in all its predatory honor. It was my turn to be the predator. The tension on the rod increased, the top curved down as if to point to the beast that pulled it. 
I handed the line to Kyle, who was able to guide the aggressive challenger to a better spot. He handed the rod back to me with an encouraging nod. I would systematically switch between intensely pulling  my line and drawing it in with a furious turning of the reel. It occasionally leapt out of the water, showing its glorified black stripe on its green, scaly body.  
After a large amount of turns taken behind the fishing rod, the pressure was back on me. The fish had fought strenuously. Josh had his net at the ready. The silent beast gradually drew closer towards me and I could tell it was losing momentum. A furious amount of reeling and pulling was able to produce a mountainous splash and a green, flailing being. As the net was placed under the fish in mid-leap, the distressed bass's capture became inevitable. 
The wide jaw of the fish acted as a grip for my hand. The sandpapery abrasion that I assumed were his teeth wore down the skin on my fingers. I felt the slippery belly and used it to support his other side. The typical post-fish-catch ritual started, a measurement of the fish, a picture, and an inspection for clues about its previous activities. Initially, I would have never guessed that I would have caught a twenty-seven inch bass, let alone a catch at all.
"A twenty-seven inch bass at Redd's Pond, that’s one of the biggest!" Josh shouted in his seemingly bewildered tone. 
"Is this the biggest you've caught?" I inquired. 
"Probably on the better end of what we've caught here," Kyle replied in his knowing tone.
         The fish's eyes gleamed, and we soon released it with a single graceful throw. We caught two others, but none seemed to hold a dime to the esteemed fish that was initially caught. We returned home with an air of pride and a bounce in our step, the kind when the payoff is as rewarding as the cost of the hard work. To Kyle and Josh, it may have been good for the given location, but for me it was mountains beyond what I could have ever expected. I would return ready for whatever the pond gave me, expecting its next biggest challenge. I was never faced with a more formidable challenge than at Redd's pond, but the world is an ocean of possibility. I was unaware on the day of my triumph that when I lifted my line and saw the fish's dark empty eyes, that I had surfaced a fish, a record, and a tradition.

by Will F.
Grade 9

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