Re: NANFA-- The best catch I've ever made...

Patrick Ceas (
Mon, 24 Nov 2003 09:21:04 -0600

Good job, Todd.

And, you should definitely send this to the paper so that the firemen
get a kick in the ass!


Todd Crail wrote:

>Well I need to get this off my chest... This email could also be titled
>"Sorry to interrupt your game, guys." But, I think that'll be the title of
>my editorial I send off to the Toledo Blade, so I won't use it up here.
>This afternoon while the "Battle Royale" was being played out in Ann Arobr,
>I decided to forego the socializing over the game and get out and enjoy what
>last remains of nice weather we're experiencing right now. I wanted to pick
>up some pumpkinseeds for the tank I'm setting up at Maumee Valley, I went to
>Highland Park on Swan Creek where I'd net some earlier this summer. I had
>also taken my fishin' pole on rumors in the past, there could be stray
>steelhead running the stream. I thought I'd do my best to remove the
>exotics ;)
>At any rate, the reason for this being a prime spot for spawn run fish is
>because of a _pointless_ 6 foot lowhead dam. The dam and the ensuing
>downstream pool are perfect "habitat" to stop migratory fish... It's
>gravelly, sandy and deep, with a decent current year round. So it serves as
>a spawning ground, although the rest of Swan Creek is severed from
>contributing it's share to the brilliant fishery of Lake Erie (which upper
>Swan Creek is wetlands in the Oak Openings that would be a perfect nursery).
>I've seen walleye floating downstream in a heat generated fish kill in the
>spring. Trautman also noted that he'd seen sea lampery spawning at this
>site. I intend to really get in and understand the year round communities
>at this site, and hopefully, get the damn thing tore out. The 400 or so juv
>perch I seined today should be reason enough....
>What happened next was the exclamation point.
>Two young gentlemen (about 9 or 10 yrs old) joined me in the fishing
>endeavors. I was somewhat alarmed that they were down there by themselves,
>but figured I could keep an eye on them, maybe teach them about the fish in
>the stream. I taught them how to cast their open faced reels, gave the one
>fella a minnow, cleaned out the ensuing "birds nests" that happen when kids
>use open faced reels :) I think they got bored with the slow action where
>I was and began being the adventuresome boys that they are. They moved
>upstream above the dam and fished there for a bit. They got bored there,
>and of course, the grass is always greener...
>You know where this is going by now I'm sure....
>So they went to the other side, which I had no way of getting to beside over
>the bridge. The boil of the dam was pretty strong, it was pulling empty,
>capped pop bottles under (very bouyant). Enough to have a healthy respect
>for it. Based on what I had experienced in the hole lining the base of the
>dam when it was at low this summer, it would have had to have been 6 foot
>deep in some places, in between all the rocks that were scattered about from
>a bridge repair they'd done this summer (ie the core hole was 5-6' deep at
>the current water level and there were concrete chunks all the way through
>it). The depth and obstructions were such a non-issue because I wouldn't
>even have _thought_ to get in there, even though that where I knew a lot of
>fish would be spending their time. No fish is worth "me".
>I was concerned that my wading about would inspire the boys to get into the
>stream, as boys will do. I saw them get the idea, and called it off
>immediately. They were very compliant and put their shoes and socks back on
>and resumed fishing. I was sitting down readjusting my seine, when I heard
>the noises I _did not_ want to hear...
>One of the boys was in the stream. He'd slipped off a concrete girder that
>formed the side of the dam. It was very shallow on the side I was on for a
>bit, but apparently it was much deeper on the other side. I hollered for
>him to "Stand up, it's not that deep!" at which he went straight under. Oh
>man. The next few minutes were kind of a blur...
>In the time it took for me to _run_ up the side of the ravine, across the
>bridge and down the other side of the ravine, he had floated out about
>midway in the stream, still in the boil, and bobbing under and up, under and
>up. The situation had gone from bad to horrible. He was not making contact
>with any of the substrate and was having difficulty treading water. This
>wasn't an insane boil like you see sometimes, but it was enough to keep him
>stuck in it and was not letting it's grasp go. (What is the technical name
>for "the boil"?)
>Not having my wader belt on (which will never happen again), I gently slid
>down the girder, hoping like heck I made contact with the top of my chest
>waders still in the dry zone. I had about 3 inches of room. This didn't
>make me exactly comfortable, but I knew even if I ballooned out, the current
>wasn't going to be enough to get me in trouble. I wasn't 3' tall and
>freaking out. At the same time, I knew the risks I was enacting, but the
>situation called for damning all the risks and acting, figuring out what to
>do second by second.
>I made my way out to him, taking on water with misplaced steps on the
>concrete rocks. I made the decision to feel it hit my waist, and then I'd
>have to turn back, else I was compromising both of us. I just kept thinking
>"You must take your time or all of this will be in vain."
>As I got to him, he was screaming that he couldn't feel anything and didn't
>want to die.
>Man, that has to be the worst thing I've ever heard.
>We made contact and began to make our way back. A fella who musta seen the
>guy hauling arse across the bridge in chest waders and wondered what all the
>excitement was about, I think, made the emergency call. It might also have
>been the people who slowed their car and went "Go man Go!" to be smart, and
>I consequently flipped off in hopes that they would stop and want to kick my
>butt. I dunno. In any case, the guy who was looking over the bridge was
>the only other adult that I know of who saw what the gravity of this
>situation held.
>I got him out of the water, got his soaked cotton sweatshirt off, gave him
>all my shirts and had his buddy run for my jacket on the other side.
>Unfortunately, because I'd taken on so much water (it was thigh deep in the
>waders, which made it real fun getting back up on the girder) my clothes
>weren't exactly dry. But by dumping out my waders to wrap and make some
>type of thermal barrier, and getting that jacket and giving him my hat, we
>started to get him settled down. I sent the other boy off to start loading
>all the gear while I got the wet one back to the van (which wasn't exactly
>The next few minutes left me deeply irritated with a subsection of humanity.
>Why, if you were driving down the road, and you saw a shirtless man with
>soaked pants flagging you down (in NOVEMBER) with a soping wet, wrapped in
>wet-clothes kid, would you choose _not_ to stop and at least ask if you
>could help? We coulda really used a ride right then...
>It gets even better.
>As we were nearly to the car, and the one boy had taken most of the stuff
>over, the fire truck pulled up. I thought "Oh awesome. We'll get some dry
>blankets." and assured the boy that everything was getting much better right
>then. Pffft. These guys emerged from their truck like someone just woke
>them from a nap, and knowing that "The Game" was on, I just wanted to punch
>someone ("Sorry to bother you guys!").
>I asked them to get him blankets multiple times. They were more interested
>in the facts, making it seem like a small deal, and trying to eyeball how
>deep the water was by looking from the top of the bridge (mind you, the
>turbidity of the stream was about 80 JTU), instead of beginning to pull him
>out of a potential hypothermic situation. He was in shock, I have little
>doubt, he'd stopped shivering and I doubt that was because he got warm. You
>don't just go from "I can't feel anything" and staggering around on numb
>feet to warm in three minutes with no additional warmth added to your body.
>They kept with the questions, and at the point where they asked him "How
>long were you in the water?" I wanted to say "Too ------- Long!" I was
>fumed. Instead, I went back to my van (just realizing that I _was_, in
>fact, a bare chested man in soaked pants in November) to get changed into my
>emergency clothes I'd brought along, and kept from upsetting the kid any
>more beacuse adults were being idiots. The paramedics pulled up then, and I
>felt better that at least someone might give the kid a damned blanket!
>By the time I made my way back to the site, the paramedics were gone, the
>firemen were still doing that male game of "who's right about how deep it
>is", but sorta broke that up when they saw me. They went back to their
>truck and their sgt (or whatever they are came over) and told me where my
>shirt was. Man I wanted to scream at the dude, and let him know how
>disgusting their nonchalance about the situation was. The cops pulled up
>then, I kept shut up (I'm not a big fan of some police personality types)
>and just asked where he lived so I could get my hat and return their fishing
>So, to recount... Response time by EMS units was a definate "A". They were
>there within five minutes. How they handled it when they got there...
>Uhh... I think the kid was better off getting in my van and home into a hot
>bath, instead of being waylayed by these clowns, so they could eyeball how
>deep the creek was below the bridge, from the bridge.
>Don't get me wrong... I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that
>they just assumed that I had walked out to get him in my clothes (they did
>not see my waders, as they were already at the van) and that it would have
>appeared that I'd only gotten wet up to my waist and just got splashed a
>But I did tell them twice I was there fishing and seining and was in the
>And I do understand that it's not like I had a label on my shirt that says
>"Water wise and a local stream authority, spends all free time in water and
>is able to fully appreciate dynamics of lowhead dam and kid situation."
>But ---- them very much for not being much interested beyond trying to make
>sure the kid was calmed down. His shock was doing that well enough for him.
>And... They just took him back to his uncle's place and gave him the
>impression that nothing really happened. He was kinda embarrased that he
>just let them go out and do their thing, but apparently had been assured
>enough there _wasn't_ a potentially deadly situation that just happened.
>Nor had he done anything lacking judgement.
>Hopefully the kid doesn't end up with a nasty ecoli infection from all the
>water he sucked down.
>/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
>/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
>/ Association"
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Dr. Patrick A. Ceas
St. Olaf College
Science Center 180
1520 St. Olaf Ave.
Northfield, MN  55057
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,