July 18, 2021 Sam the Squawfish
Sam swam lazily, his body pushing and turning. He glided at the edge of darkness between the depths and the light. Beneath him was a coldness that stretched hundreds of feet below. Above him was a warmth that sapped his body and slowed every motion. The water felt different, he could feel the thermal effects of the beaming sunshine from above.
Sam was hungry, he was searching for a meal on the edge of the depths. The squawfish had been going hungry the last while, The Kokanee, his favourite morsel, was hard to find. As a matter of fact, Sam was sure the amount of prey has been getting smaller. Earlier in the year, Sam sought a tasty treat along the shoreline. He could always find Kokanee eggs it was a delicacy he used to love. This year he had some early but then they disappeared above the surface of the lake.
Why was the lake so low? Why was the water so warm? The questions themselves were beyond his understanding. All the aquatic beast understood was the need to feed.
A flash caught his eye. This was Sam’s chance. He moved deliberately, slowly, he pushed himself forward.
His tail moved with an urgent thrust. He opened his mouth and engulfed his victim.
He felt a sharp pain. Suddenly, he was being pulled.
He went higher into the warmth, the strange glowing disc above was getting closer. Sam rolled and pushed downward.
He wanted to go back to the dark, cold depths. He couldn’t release the sharp hook in his mouth. The hook was was there, it was dragging him.
The squawfish lay still, hoping for an answer, looking for a release. Higher into the warmer waters he was being pulled. Resistance was beyond his grasp, he had no feeling anymore just the warmth of the water around him. Air and water surged around him. Loud sounds invaded his senses.
Then he broke the surface and saw the strange creature holding a long pole. He was pulling him with the strange thin line. Sam gave up and accepted his fate. He had heard of one of the other fish being abducted. They found him floating, no life at all. Just floating.
Sam saw the strange creature reach for him and grab the sharp hook in his mouth. The creature touched him and he felt a rush of emotions. He saw everything all at once.
Sam saw the man on the boat, he saw other creatures. They had very little clothes on, their skin shone in the bright sunshine. Sam didn’t understand what was happening, his senses filled with images and emotions.
The thoughts and emotions were coming from the creature, the creature had arms and legs, it was called a man… Barrman. More strange images formed in Sams’s tiny brain. He saw days on top of the water. He saw air rush by. There were so many creatures… More images of other creatures wearing a piece of string between the shiny mounds of flesh. There were all shapes and sizes. Bikini was the word that formed in Sam’s brain. He saw a memory of a place called the tiki bar. He saw tacos… delicious tacos. It reminded Sam of the hunger he felt.
How could this creature live outside the water? Sam felt distant from all he knew. He could not feel any more water soak his body. He was fading and yet his connection to the creature was there. It felt his day go by, he saw the man giggle in triumph and a sense of dismay.
He saw this creature called Barrman smile and shake his head.
“Just a lousy squawfish… At least I’m not skunked.” The man twisted his hand and Sam felt a release.
He was falling. Sam felt warm moisture engulf his body. It was so warm, it was so wet.
He lay there in the water, stunned. What just happened?
Sam’s little mind couldn’t see beyond the immediate moment he was in.
He was free.
He felt the water’s cooling embrace as we swam back into the depths. He was alive, he Squawfish could hunt once more.
Barrman shook his head as he watched the fish descend into the darkness of the lake. Perhaps he should have killed the fish before he let it go. In some places, they pay people to kill the Squawfish aka the pikeminnow. The fisherman let the beast go back to hunt kokanee and trout, fish he would like to see more of. Not less…
And the cycle of life continued…