The back lash

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
The year 1982, I lived on north spider lake road, in Grand Traverse County, seven miles south east of Traverse City Michigan. Lake Vandervoight was a hop skip and a jump from my house through the woods behind my house. If you have read my story spear fishing gone-this story is going to give you heart murmurs if not cause some to pass an organ. Ouch come join the fun once again in yet another one of my fishing bloopers.

Submitted: September 21, 2016

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Submitted: September 21, 2016






In 1981,   I lived on North spider lake road; my back yard was state land the woods.   Three hundred yards through the woods there was a lake called Lake Vandervought.   As far as small lakes go, this lake had a long reputation for producing huge northern pike, bass, and panfish.

The month January, middle of winter the ice pack was good that year fourteen-sixteen inches thick.   Our goal Tony Rafael, my younger brother Ricky, and I, needed to get the ice shanty out of my back yard and onto the frozen lake.

There was an old two track or goat trail we used to call it, on the west end of the lake (This two track, goat trail is now a subdivision called Thousand Oaks drive) a quarter mile down the trail there was a rough boat launch area, I do mean rough.

The lake was visible at that point.   However, it was at the bottom of a one hundred yard gauntlet.  The trail was a washed out eroded gully, laced with dozens of exposed live tree roots, of all shapes and sizes, long ones, some short and twisted, large in girth, others skinny, many overlapped, and twisted together.

Needless to say, that trail was treacherous in the summer time let alone in the winter to say the very least.   My brother Ricky, Tony, and I  were looking for a little action.   We tied a rope to the bumper of Tony's jeep, the other end of the line I linked to an I bolt I had screwed into the roof of the ice shanty.

The adventure was under way.   It was a long bumpy ride down the snow covered goat trail.   That proved to be the easier part of the journey.   At that point, overlooking the lake. We unhooked the ice shanty from the jeep, looking over the crest of the hill we realized the real work was about to begin.

At that point, we loaded our gear into the ice shanty, over the edge of the cliff we went.   Going downhill was easier than we had thought it would be.   The wind that day had been blowing rather hard that kept the gullies tree roots and other hazards on the hillside blown off.

As a result, the ice shanty wanted to ski itself down through the gauntlet as it towed the three of us down behind it.   Shortly things went out of control until one of the skis found it's way under a tree root sticking out of the frozen hillside.   Everything came to a dead stop at that point, except for the contents inside the ice shanty, crash bang slam smash; you get the picture.

Shortly after we loosened the ice shanty from underneath the tree root, it began skiing itself down the hill once again the three of us in tow.   All at once the hut came to a dead stop this time in a massive snow drift up against a large red oak tree, of course, the contents shifted once again crash.

After digging the ice shanty out of the drift, we continued to wrestle it down to the lake shore.   At that point, I was both wet inside my clothing from sweating, as well a wet on the outside of my clothing from falling in the snow drift and I was exhausted.   Finally, we reached the lake shore and rested up a bit.   The next part of the adventure would prove to be the most rigorous part of the expedition.

The three of us dragged the ice shanty two-thirds of the way across the lake, through knee deep snow-slush patches.   Finally, we reached the area that we wanted to fish; again a short rest was in order this was hard work man!   We began chopping our holes out with an ice spud none of that auger stuff in them days.

When we finished the holes we placed the ice shanty over the top of them in twelve feet of water over a great brake line which included tall tobacco weeds, fallen tree limbs, and a mud flat, now how can you beat that?   Why do all the fish seem to be as far away from the public launch as they can be?   I will probably never understand.

At that point Ricky and Tony set up a couple of tip-ups while I was arranging the inside of the ice shanty, we propped up the corners of the ice shanty to prevent sinkage or at least slow it down.   The next week Ricky, Tony, and I spent as much time fishing in that area as we possibly could.

We caught some nice pike, up to thirty-three inches long a few large bass that out of season, and some nice sized bluegills.   The ice shanty that we were fishing in was the same one I used in the spear fishing gone bad story.

However, on the next fishing trip, I was not planning on using the Speer I was using my two-speed rig.   I did restring my speed rigs with some three hundred feet twenty-pound line.   Oh and this time I used a rather large sized treble hook.

A few weeks later my brother in law Gordon and I went fishing down at the ice shanty.   We had been fishing since daybreak the temperature outside of the shanty was zero.   However, the temperature inside the ice shanty must have been around two maybe three degrees warmer because of our body heat toasty ah?

It was ten thirty in the morning, things were slow and got cold.   Very slow and freezing.   Most of the morning Gordon and I had been using four and five-inch suckers for bait.   Several smaller perch came in for a closer look. However, they had decided that the sucker minnows were out of their league since the sucker minnows were larger than they were.

It was twelve o'clock noon at that point, cold and feeling a bit beat up from lack of any real action.   At that point, I decided to put on my secret weapon, what was it?   My secret weapon was an eleven inch sucker minnow weighing in at just over one pound.

I hooked the sucker just behind his dorsal fin, just thick enough so as not to cause any permanent harm to him.   As I lowered him into the water, I realized that he did not want to go down he just refused to do so.

At that point, Gordon and I began hunting for all the sinkers we could find we came up with two ounces of lead.   I fastened the sinkers to my line, twelve inches up from my bait.   I lowered him back in the hole, {after spending the past twelve hours in my five-gallon pail I was sure that Mister sucker was ready to shake a fin as it were now that I sunk him down.}

Therefore, I allowed him to take outline slowly by controlling the speed rig; he was swimming along rather nicely not too fast, not too slow, but steady. Within ten minutes the two ounces of weight should have taken mister sucker to the bottom.

However ten minutes had come and gone, now it had been fifteen minutes, the sucker minnow was still swimming along at the same rate of speed as he was when I first put him into the water.   At that point, I turned to Gordon; I asked him what he thought "should I check my bait.?"

Something was not right; my sucker was rather large. However, the sucker minnow should have gone down to the bottom by then.   Gordon's reply was "I would check it."   I gave my sucker minnow baby steps tug on the line.   Instantly fish line began peeling off my speed rig piled up in my lap.  " OH, NO WHAT A MESS!!   WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? I SHOUTED."   Gordon replied, "I DON'T KNOW DO SOMETHING!!"

The speed rig was racing wildly out of control "OH NO LOOK AT THIS MESS" I looked at Gordon his eyes were wide open he looked as though he were in shock.I must have looked the same to him because I was in shock.   Once I snapped out of it, I handed over fist the massive tangle of backlashed line and pushed the whole mess down into the hole" THIS BETTER WORK! WHAT A MESS!!" I thought out loud.

At that point, I could see the line pulling straight out from the bottom of the backlashed mess in the water, as the fish kept running, he was untangling the line himself.   I was able to get control over the speed rig for a moment until the fish caught up to the rig again.   Another huge backlash ripped off the spool piled up in my lap as it had done before" MAN THIS IS BAD GORDON THIS IS not okay!!" again I hand over fisted the tangled up mess back into the water in the hole.

 However, I was able to get control once again, when the fish caught up this time I was ready for him.   Holding on to the line I felt the weight of the fish I could not stop him completely at that point; he backlashed me again the line ended up in my lap," I THINK I'M BEGINING TO WIN GORDY I'M WINNING!" that backlash was much smaller than the last two had been.

That time after pushing the tangled line back into the hole I was ready.   I  waited for the fish to catch up to the tangled up mess again this time I fed line to the pike through my closed hand.   I looked at the speed rig, "OH NO!! THE LINE IS RUNNING OUT GORDON I HOPE THAT HE SWALLOWED MY BAIT!! HERE WE GO!!" 

At that point, I reflected briefly on all the mistakes that I had already made, only to realize the biggest mistake yet, I did'ent put a wire leader on my line, OH NO!" IT'S GOING TO BE A MIRACLE GORDON!!" NOTHING SHORT OF A  MIRACLE!"

However! I was using brand new twenty-pound test Stren Extra Tuff ice fishing line.  I hoped this would give me some protection from the razor sharp teeth in Mister pikes mouth.   The next huge problem, I knew that once I set the hook all the major tangles along the three hundred feet of line, would be cinched up tight into rabbit ear knots, possibly causing fray line possible snapping points.  " THIS WILL BE COMMING TO AN END SOON GORDY! "

As I kept a tight hold on the line, I could feel the many tangles pulling tightly together.   AT that point, I set the hook; I felt the tremendous weight of the fish now.   Fish on, the battle began in earnest.   I was standing outside of the ice shanty door at that time, towing in what felt like a fallen red oak tree.

A couple of times the large pike came to a dead stop I kept the line taught.   I could not horse on this monster fish I could feel that he outweighed my line.   As I kept the pressure on the line slowly but steadily, the pike would give in swimming toward me.   At that point, I had recovered at least half of my line.

It was in mega tangles as I spread it out on the open ice; it froze on contact the temperature was six degrees above zero.  " LOOK AT THIS MESS OUT HERE! WHAT IF HE WANTS TO RUN AGAIN! THATS IMPOSSIBLE LOOK AT THIS FROZEN MESS GORDON!!"

I have now retrieved all but the last few feet of line.   Gordon and I our hearts racing from adrenalin realized one of the previous mistakes we had made we did not bring my gaff hook," THAT'S GREAT! JUST GREAT! AFTER EVERYTHING WE HAVE JUST BEEN THROUGH WERE GOING TO LOSE HIM IN THE HOLE! JUST GREAT!" I thought out loud. 

"Gordon, we are only going to get one shot at this I moaned," his reply was "I know Randy."   My plan was to put my fingers in one of the fishes gills then stretching my hand across the top of his back to the one on the other side of the fishes body.   I knew that I would have to be quick and deliberate.   My heart was racing as was Gordons.he said


All at once a large pikes head appeared in the water in the hole. He launched himself mouth wide open-studded with large slimy teeth.   One-third of his large body landed on the ice shanty floor.  " WHOA LOOK AT THAT RANDY GET HIM!" I'M TRYING GORDON I'M ON IT!!"   At this point, I tried to put my fingers in one of the fishes gills I was able to slide my thumb on my right hand into one of the fishes gills entirely.   I spread my hand across the fishes back and tried to push my finger into the gill cover on the other side of the pike's body my reach was not long enough.

By that time Mister Pike was not having any happy thoughts about this whole situation at hand, he began violently bouncing his body around, "OUCH HE'S GOT MY THUMB IN HIS GILL DAM!!".   He rolled I got my thumb back it was bleeding but still attached to my hand.   Mister Pike slid back into the water; he seemed to be very upset.   He began pulling again with all of his vigor-vim by no means was this huge fish ready to concede.

At that point, he made a desperate second run swimming faster than I could provide the line for him because I was standing outside the ice shanty door my fishing line had frozen to the ice. "OH GORDON! THAT'S IT MY LINE IS GOING TO SNAP! ANY SECOND NOW"  " MAYBE NOT RANDY YOU CAN STILL WIN!."   I was able to peel some of the frozen knotted-tangled up the line off the ice and push it into the hole.

The Pike had taken fifty feet of line back out to deeper water.   Then it happened, "OH NO GORDON HES GONE! "AFTER ALL OF THIS HE'S GONE!!" the line went limp I began pulling my line in as I did, I caught up to something vert weighty.   I pulled on the line, and whatever was on the hook started moving very slowly towards me.

I thought the Pike must have gotten tangled up in a brush pile before he came off the hook-brock the line.   At that point, the snag began coming in a little quicker it must have broken loose from the central pile.   I had retrieved most of my line; then I felt a violent tug.  "HE'S STILL ON! "HE'S COMMING UP FOR A SECOND TIME GORDEN OH NO!"

"ARE YOU GOING TO GET HIM THIS TIME RANDY! GET HIM!!"   The hole was full of chunks of ice floating snow and slush.   Visibility was going to be very short that time around.   However, I had formulated a plan if we got a second chance.

Since my hands were already numb -frozen.  I knew that I had to get the fish this time since he has been chewing on my knotted tangled up the frozen line for the last half hour or so.   Once again Mister Pike came up head first in the hole, mouth opening, nd closing in a chewing motion, studded with razor-sharp slimy teeth.

It was then or never, "I'M GOING FOR IT GORDON! "I JUST NEED TO GET MY HAND IN TOO ONE OF HIS GILLS!"   I reached my hand blindly down in the hole through the Minny ice burgs floating slush and snow.   I ran my hand along the bottom side of his face just under his bottom jaw I was feeling for the fishes gill so I could shove my hand in it and yank the monster fish onto the ice.   Even if I were able to get my hand in the fishes gill, my hand would have been shredded and be bleeding when I pulled it out. However, I knew from experience; I would not feel much pain until my hand thawed out.

However, Mister Pike had no happy thoughts at all about me putting my dirty human hand on his gill cover.   Once again he rolled and made a third run for it.   I could tell he was getting tired now.  He should have escaped after the first backlash, yet here I was getting a third chance at him.

AT that point, I was using my hand to remove a small spot in the hole so I could see Mister Pike when he came up again if he did.   I could not believe I was going to get a third chance at this brute pike that is unheard of right?.   A few seconds later the Pikes head appeared in the hole once again this time he was just under the surface of the floating ice chunks snow and slush. 

Mister Pike saw me one last time he made a fourth run SNAP, AND HE WAS GONE!   At that point, I was on my hands and knees just outside the ice shanty door.   I had three hundred feet of fishing line; over an area, often square feet knotted and tangled in small little piles it was wrapped around my legs, frozen the buttons on my coat, it was in and around the frozen chunks of ice that came from chopping our holes out.

My hands were completely numb; my jacket sleeves were frozen solid up to my elbows my knees were also frozen.   At that point, I looked at Gordon, "ARE YOU READY TO GO HOME NOW!!?"   I will chop up this mess later.  Gordon and I estimated that the pike was fifty some inches long and weighed around forty pounds.   We will never know how big Mister Pike was for sure.

However, I know for sure that I will never forget the enormous backlash.

3052 words 










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