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The Striper Fisherman
by Bob Thomas, Jr.

hen the Striper Fisherman enters the beach, his world is turned inside out and upside down. Much like a gladiator entering the arena, he enters with his chest pushed out and his head up high. People basking in the sun stop and watch as he enters the sands. With the waves crashing in the foreground, he proudly and as gracefully as humanly possible, struts to the water's edge.

His fishing buddies all gather around to offer friendly advice as to what bait to use, where to fish, and they brag about the "Big one" that got away. Maybe they are sincere in their advice or maybe they are just "showing off". The fisherman gently places his equipment in the sand and begins the day's ritual of baiting hooks and casting out.

As he is setting up his little area, his mind drifts into another world. He begins to think where to cast, when to fish and that overwhelming feeling he gets when the twelve-foot poles rod tip begins to plunge to the sand in erratic jerking motions. From this point on, his mind is on fishing and nothing else.

With his bait in the water, his site set-up and his mind focused, he decides to have a conversation with his fishing buddies. Much like an important business conference, every fisherman seems to know when and where to discuss the fishing in days past. They chat about all the East coast has to offer. There is a tight bond between striper fishermen, much like that of a family. Even total strangers can become good friends when talking about Striper Fishing.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the anglers screams, "Fish on!!!!" The fisherman takes a quick glance at this pole and sees the twelve foot rod plummeting to the sand. Someone in the background yells out, "It's a keeper….it's a keeper!" He begins that long run, or so it seems, towards his rod. As he picks up the rod, he feels a hard tug on his line. The fish is still on and hanging on tight! He lowers the rod to the ground and with one quick motion, leans back with all his might to set the hook. It's a good hook set! The fight begins!

He begins the exhausting fight with the beast. His chest sticking farther out and his head is head is much higher now. The sunbathers begin to file around the fisherman in awe. The other fishermen do the same. All are offering a helping hand in whatever way possible. Everyone gasps in amazement as the fish breaches the surface and with a splash, re-enters the water. This fish in huge! The angler is becoming exhausted from the fight but the brief sight of the fish gives him strength. With the rod bending and the drag of the reel screaming, he battles fatigue as well as the fish.

With the fisherman pumping the rod and the fish still stripping line, several onlookers, who were at first doubting his efforts are gathering around to see what is going on. At first glance, the expressions on their faces would lead one to believe that they have just witnessed a miracle. In several minutes, they will!

As the fish is drawn closer, people start to gaze in wonder. Out of the crowd, a voice yells, "That's at least forty pounds.!" Another replies, "Naw, it's only about thirty pounds." From the other side, a child cries, "Mommy, is it going to bite me?!" A large smile comes over the fisherman's face as the fish is pulled over the last breaker and onto the sand. Sure enough, it is a keeper and it's of good size. The fisherman heads to the fish and grabs it by the gills. The weight is not overwhelming but the size is. He breaks out the ruler and measures it. Thirty eight inches long and according to his pocket scale, twenty five pounds! Not a bad fish! His buddies are poking and touching the fish in amazement. The fisherman's heart is racing and hands are shaking under the weight. This surely is a keeper!

After the commotion settles, the fisherman packs up his gear and bids a fond farewell to his friends. He begins that oh so long walk to the parking lot. He proudly totes his trophy behind him as the crowd utters comments like, "Look at the size of that fish!" Or, "That must have put up one hell of a fight!" The fisherman is more proud than he was before and you can tell by the look on his face. Smile from ear to ear, the proud walk, and the way he is now carrying himself. It was a very profitable day and one he will not soon forget!

This fish was my first keeper ever and only happened one year ago! I was always the one catching the token schoolies but never a keeper. Wanted to share with the rest of you! May 1999 be the best season ever!End

Copyright 2005 - 2008, Bob Thomas, Jr. All Rights Reserved
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