It was May 1996 and I was planning my only trip in my life to Canada to chase the giant pike and abundant walleye. One of my trip requirements was a heavy duty pike rod and reel. I had done the research and I thought a baitcaster was what I wanted. Off I went to Cabelas.
I dropped 400 dollars on a Plueger bait caster rod and reel set up. Then I bought another 30 giant lures with the delusion of landing giant pike in Ignace Ontario. The lures were not cheap. I had some braided super line put on the reel.
I took the long way home and went by the Lynxville Lock and Dam on the Mississippi. The draw to the water was just too strong. I got out and hooked on a Magnum Rapala. I took the long walk down to the water and walked way out on the pier.
I was bashful at first with the new bait caster. I didn't want a birds net. I made short casts and did not put much force in the casts at first because I was truly afraid of this huge rig with the giant deep diving stick bait with three huge treble hooks.
On the fourth short wimpy cast I hooked up on something massive. It ran around in the lock area for 30 minutes. I couldn't control the fish. It ran off 50 yards of line in one run. I tightened the drag to slow it down and tire it out. I was drawing quite a crowd of onlookers. One car saw me battling the fish while driving by and parked and ran down with a giant net. I had 2 boats anchor and watch me.
I finally made some headway on the fish and got it somewhat under control. I literally had a cheering section by then. They were shouting directions and hooting and acting crazy. The guy with the huge net said he needed to go to work and if I wanted him to net whatever was on the line I needed to put some pressure on the fish.
All of sudden it just quit fighting and came to the surface. My fishing gallery let out a collective sigh and then I heard a few "wows" even. This thing was at least five feet long and looked prehistoric. It had a long snout. There was no way it was going to fit in the net. There was no way I was going to pull this giant fish up over the end of the pier. One of the guys in the boat said it was a "Paddle Fish" and a huge one.
Thanks Wikipedia for the use of the photo.
The second boat came up along side us and unhooked the paddle fish. He told me it was illegal to keep because it was protected. I had no plans to keep it anyway. I was down there fishing on a lark and had no net....no needle nose and no camera. I let it go after it revived without a picture.
I got a couple high fives. The whole crowd dispersed and I sat alone there collecting myself. My arm was actually noodle like and very tired from battling the crazy looking fish for 45 minutes.
I had only done four cast with my new rig and I thought that it was not adequate to test it for a Canada trip. I thought I needed to throw a few more to get the feel of the expensive rig before I drug it all the way to Canada.
The first couple casts went well. I decided I wanted to let a long one fly. I would need to cover a lot of distance up there in the giant lakes so I really put my back into the cast. I wound up and let it fly.
I was over confident because of the paddle fish thang and didn't heed warnings about the bird nets folks that were inexperienced usually had.
The giant deep diver magnum rapala went sailing out about five feet and then the unthinkable happened. It bird nested. The force of the cast and the non-stretch super line caused the lure to come screaming back at me faster then I had thrown it out.
I put my left arm up instinctively to block the giant lure coming screaming back at me at Mach 12. I stood there in disbelief at what had happened.
I looked at my left wrist and hand. I had all three of the magnum rapala's trebles buried in my hand and wrist. It didn't hurt as much as you would think. I quickly went back to the truck and looked at the injuries.
Two of the three trebles were in the skin just superficially. The third was all the way through the meat of the bottom of my left hand. I cut the 50 pound test line and drove back to Prairie Du Chien to the urgent care with the three trebles still in my wrist and hand.
The doctor got me in immediately. I told him the tale as he numbed up my hand and wrist. He pulled all of the trebles all the way through the wrist and hand and snipped off the points. He gave me a tetanus shot and wrapped the hand and wrist.
I gathered up all the lures and rod and reel and took them back to Cabelas right after I left the hospital. Cabelas would not take back the one lure because it had been used to catch such a fool and the trebles were damaged.