He Throws the Spear

He Throws a Spear (before you read this, read “A Spear in His Hand”)DSC_0010ed

He looked at the spear. He nervously swallowed. Then he lowered himself onto the spearing stool. He looked at grandpa, still holding the spear. Boone reached out his hand for the spear. It was heavier than he remembered, and he had carried it to the spear house. In his bare hand he felt the cold of the long steel handle. He took a deep breath and set the spear tines on the edge of the hole. The handle rested on his shoulder.

His eyes began to sweep the edges of the hole for a first view of a northern.

Pastor Andrew reached for the string holding the decoy. He said, “Ready Mr. Boone?” Boone could only nod. He was already focused on the activity below him in the water. He counted 6 sunfish around the edges. With a slight lean to the right he could see a bass and 3 more sunfish at the far-left edge of the hole. He would be alert for a change in this picture. Pastor Andrew pulled the decoy string. It went swimming in a circle beneath them, once, twice, three times and then Pastor Andrew released the string. The decoy swam more slowly and soon it stopped suspended in the center of the hole.

Boone knew that the movement of the decoy would be quickly picked up by any northern close by. He began to scan the edges. He watched for a change in the picture below him. The sunfish swam in closer to the decoy, first the 6 then the 3. The bass swam under the decoy and out of the hole on his right. He scanned back to the left and saw the nose of a fish. But as he watched he realized it was another sunfish. He took a silent breath, a false alarm.

Pastor Andrew broke the silence. “One could not find a better way to spend an afternoon than this,” he said. Though it was too dark to see, Boone could feel the smile on Pastor Andrew’s face. Softly Boone replied, “I agree.”  As he spoke the word agree, Boone saw something in the right corner of the hole. His boot was pointed toward the large dark green nose of a northern pike. Boone held his breath. Slowly, and silently, he lifted the spear and held it above the water. The fish would need to swim into the hole further in order for Boone to have a chance to spear it. Pastor Andrew rolled the decoy string between his thumb and forefinger. The decoy’s head moved slightly away from the northern.

As Boone watched the fish swam nearly up to the decoy. Now it was in full view, except the whole fish did not fit in the hole. Boone heard grandpa whisper, “big.” In the same instant, he heard Pastor Andrew whisper, “uh-huh it is. You can drop the spear on it now Boone.” He added. Silently Boone moved the spear to just behind the head of the big fish. Then he slowly lowered the spear into the water. Boone knew if the spear splashed into the water the fish would swim away. He had remembered what Pastor Andrew had said earlier.

With the spear just behind the head of the fish and partly into the water, Boone let the spear drop. Its weight quickly carried it toward the fish. Then the water below them began to churn. Boone saw a white flash, “fish belly,” he thought. Then he pulled on the string attached to the spear. The weight of the fish nearly pulled the string from his hand. With his other hand he reached for the end of the spear as it came up. Holding the spear was like holding a bucking horse. He put the other hand on the spear too and pulled the fish up. Boone thought the hardest part was over. He was wrong.

As the big fish was lifted up out of the water it began to flop its head and tail back and forth. Water splashed on all of them. The body of the fish slammed into the sides of the spear house. Suddenly, things were crazy in that tiny house. All Boone could do was hold on. He was not going to let this one go. Then he felt another hand on the spear. Grandpa had reached in to help. Together they lifted the crashing big fish toward the door. Pastor Andrew was already reaching around to get it open. When they laid it on the ice it gave a might heave and wrenched the spear out of their hands. The spear banged against the door of the house. Boone was off his stool in a second. On his way out of the door he barely managed to grab the spear handle and push the tines into the ice. The big fish was pinned. Suddenly Pastor Andrew was by his side. He said, “Boone, I got it now.”

Moments later the big fish had been subdued and measured. As Boone lifted the heavy fish to the pail, Pastor Andrew’s joyful voice announced, “it’s a 7 pounder!” Boone felt hands slapping on his back. As he looked into their faces he saw the two older men grinning at him. Grandpa came close and put an arm around his shoulder. “I’m proud of you Boone! Now before you put your fish in the pail, we have a few photos to take.” Bone could feel the smile creep across his face. He knew he liked fishing, but spearing was even better, it was marvelous. He looked over to Pastor Andrew. “Pastor Andrew, this was fantastic!” he whispered.