This trip was to Lac La Croix on the Minnesota Ontario border. Second or third weekend in September with great potential for challenging weather. The good news is it didn’t snow. The bad news is we had bears, non-stop cold rain, a tent that leaked badly, a boat that leaked, and oh yeah, a hook stuck in Terry’s fat fawkin' thumb.
The second morning of this iconic trip we were fishing near a waterfall, two boats and five guys. And we are catching lots of fish. All of the sudden there was activity in the other boat, and not the good kind. We motored over to see what’s going on.
“Terry’s got a hook in his thumb.” And boy did he ever. Straight into the middle of the fat meaty part of his thumb. Faw-kinn-ae!
“OK who’s good at removing hooks from body parts?”
Jeff spoke up right away, “I’ve got this, hand me a pliers. But first, does anyone have some alcohol?” Rick had brought along his new favorite, Rebel Yell, Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Jeff handed it to Terry, “Here take a couple slugs of this. OK now take a couple more. Give me a shot of it too. OK now stick your thumb in the bottle and we’re going to soak it for a while.”
The thing that struck me the most was how calm Terry appeared to be. He obviously had great confidence in Doctor Jeff’s methods.
After a good five minute soak the pretend doctor went to work. The first thing he did was try and push the hook through the thumb by pushing and cranking on it with the pliers. If the hook had come in at an angle that might have worked. It’s amazing how tough skin and muscle can be when there’s a hook stuck in it. Dr. Jeff twisted that jig in every direction possible but the hook did not budge.
"Alright there’s a ranger station about a mile from here, let’s head over there.” Both boats headed to the ranger station. When we got there, it was closed for the season.
“Faw-kinn-ae now what?!” The closest resort was over 5 hours away by boat and another 2 hours to a doctor.
What happened next happened pretty quickly. Jeff was thinking about going back to work on the thumb again but instead Terry grabbed the pliers, grabbed the jig and ripped it straight back out of his thumb. Terry looked perfectly calm, and I suspect relieved (well he did drink a half bottle of Rebel Yell). What struck me though, besides Terry’s calm demeanor, was this—the sharp tip of the now straightened out jig was curled over—from Jeff trying to push it through the bone in Terry’s thumb earlier. Damn! Faw! Kinn! Ae!
We all toasted to Terry and Jeff by passing around what was left of the bottle of Rebel Yell, and went right back to catching walleyes knowing we could probably handle whatever happened next (that would be second night of pain-in-the-ass bear in camp). But that's another story.