'Sam: The Tale of a Chesapeake Bay Rockfish'

Story Time

June 20, 1999|By Kristina Henry

Editor's note: Sam is a carefree rockfish who lives in the bay, growing big and fat, until one day he gets himself stuck. That's when he begins to worry.

With a swish of shimmery scales, Sam swam in circles in the warm, green water. It was early summer, and for Sam that meant swimming in the Chesapeake Bay -- his home during the summer months.

Every Spring, Sam and others like him returned to the Bay from warmer waters down south. Sam often chose to swim in a less crowded place than the other rockfish. His favorite place of all was under the dock of a restaurant that sat right on the water.

Sam knew from memory (you see, rockfish have excellent memories) that this restaurant was very popular with the locals. And if he timed it right, they would be eating dinner when he got there.

Swoosh! Off Sam would go, down to the bottom, and Chomp! He would eat up all of the delicacies waiting for him.

Well, it just so happened on one of these playful occasions that Sam swam off so swiftly and suddenly, he did not look where he was going.

And what do you think happened?

Sam swam directly into a big green bottle that was resting on the sandy bottom.

He twisted his body as much as he could, until finally, he could turn around. Now, he was facing the tip of the bottle where the opening was. He could see the outside world just a little through the tiny hole.

Sam closed his eyes and dreamed of his future inside the bottle. He dreamed of other, smaller fish swimming past him and laughing at him.

Suddenly, Sam felt something pulling him!

He looked around as much as he could. And all he could see was water rushing past him at a frightening speed. There were bubbles everywhere.

As he sat in his green bottle, he thought for sure something horrible awaited him.

Sam's eyes widened. His mouth formed the letter O! And just as he looked ahead to try to see what was happening, Sam saw a big green hand grab the bottle with him in it!

"Well, well, what do we have here?" said a strange voice.

Sam stared at a man in a boat who was holding him with his huge green hand.

"Looks like I've caught myself a prize!" said the man, smiling.

Sam was shaking. Not only was this the worst day of his life, it looked like it might be the last! Sam had been caught!

"I'm gonna let you go today," said the man to Sam.

The man began to wrap something around the bottle. All at once it was dark for Sam, but somehow he knew the man was helping him.

Sam felt something hitting the side of the bottle. But it didn't hurt, and before he knew it, he was free! The man was holding him in his big gloved hands, which were no longer green.

The man held Sam up in front of him.

"Wow!" he exclaimed. "You sure are a whopper!" And he whistled a long, slow whistle.

"Now go on before I change my mind."

And with that said, the fisherman gently placed Sam back into the water and held onto him until he was sure that Sam was all right. Then he let go.

Remembering what had gotten him into trouble in the first place, he decided to watch where he was going -- and headed toward his favorite spot.

All at once, Sam dove down toward the bottom just in time to snatch a cracker.

"Mmmmm! Mmmmm!" he said to himself.

And the evening had just begun.

From SAM: THE TALE OF A CHESAPEAKE BAY ROCKFISH by Kristina Henry; illustrated by Jeff Dombek. Text copyright (c) 1997 by Kristina Henry; illustrations copyright(c) 1997 by Jeff Dombek. Used by permission of Tidewater Publishers.

Pub Date: 06/20/99

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