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Pain in the Neck

pain1When fishing, always make sure you wear a hat and a vest. I’ve seen more people with barbed hooks stuck in them, mostly in their head, from getting too close to an inattentive fly-fisherman or casting fisherman. It’s not always their fault. I remember one time when it happened to me.

My father and his best friend Ron decided to go fishing on the Crooked River in central British Columbia.We loaded all of our gear into the car, put the boat on the trailer, and headed out to the Crooked River. Our plan was to launch the boat near the start of the river, drift and motor down over the rapids, and then hitch a ride to our car and drive back to pick up the boat. We launched the boat, and began to head down the river.

While the Crooked River is slow moving in most parts, there were some areas with swifter water and rapids. If you were piloting the boat, you needed to know what you were doing, and you needed to concentrate completely on the boat and the river. On that day, I was running the motor, and using the paddle to keep the boat straight.We then came to the section with the rapids.

There were some swift rapidsFather and Ron had taken some beer with them. In the tradition of some fishermen, they had caught a lot a lot of fish and drank a lot of beer. They weren’t paying attention to anything but their fishing. Ron kept casting his line in front of the boat, using a three barbed hook, looking to land the big one. As he was dong this, he caught his lure and line into a tree branch on the shoreline. He pulled and pulled, trying to free the hook, and the nylon line kept getting tighter and tighter as he reeled his line in. All of a sudden, the hook jerked free, and shot, like a bullet, right for me. I never even saw it coming. It caught me right in my neck beside the jugular vein.

I was so busy trying to run the boat and the motor in the rapids and keep the boat straight, that I didn’t notice that the hook was caught in my neck.

Never stand too close to a fisherman castingI knew that something had hit me, and I felt a shot of pain, but I didn’t have time to check what had happened. I had my hands full with the boat. Meanwhile, Ron thought his hook was now caught in something behind us. He was reeling in his line as fast as he could, and then it became taut. He then violently pulled on the line, trying to yank the hook free. I felt a ripping pain in my neck, and then I finally realized what had happened. I had a barbed hook stuck in my neck as we were shooting down the rapids at breakneck speed! I held the motor of the boat in one hand, and Ron’s fishing line in the other. I screamed at him, “You got me, you got ME!” I didn’t know if he could hear me above the rapids and the noise of the motor, because he kept tugging at his line. It was a good thing that I always carry my knife, because I whipped it out and cut that line. Ron stumbled and fell back against the side of the boat.

We were in the middle of some pretty fast rapids which I had to get us through, otherwise, we could be swamped. It took us about half an hour until we got to some quieter water, and I was able to stop the boat and beach her on the shore.

I said to my father, “I think we got a problem. I got a hook stuck in me.” And my father looked at it and agreed with me.

Fishing can be great when done safelyBut we were a long ways from the nearest hospital. While we were shooting the rapids, the strong current of the river took us pretty far downstream from where we started. We were about half-way through our journey. It would be too difficult to go back upstream, so we had to continue onwards. While the road was not far from the river, we would have to cut through thick underbrush to get to the roadside. We would have to take another car at the end of the river to get us back to our starting point

Father said, “That hook is really close to your jugular vein or your esophagus. I’m not sure which. I’m really worried that if we move it around too much, it’ll hook into something vital, and you’ll start to bleed. And we’re too far away from the hospital. We have to get this hook out of you now.”

We continued fishing and caught our limit of fishFather had brought a bottle of whiskey on the trip. He told me to take four glasses of whiskey straight. I shot them back, and we poured a fifth glass on the wound. Then Father took out his knife and a pair of pliers. He held the skin of my neck taut, and pushed the hook through the other side of the skin, being careful not to hit anything vital. He took the pliers and cut the most of the barbs off the hook, because the barb couldn’t come all the way through. Because he didn’t get the entire barb out, he had to use his knife to make the wound just a little bit bigger. He poured some more whiskey on the wound, took his knife and made a little cut in my neck to get the rest of it out. Then my father put a little more whiskey on the wound, and bandaged it up with some electrician tape which we had in the boat. Then we continued on our fishing trip, caught our limit of fish,and hitched a ride back to our car.

We never did make it to the hospital on that trip.