Perspective: Lurking In The Last Wilderness

Jan 7, 2020

On the night after Christmas, I was ice fishing on Carlin Lake near Presque Isle, what they call “Wisconsin’s Last Wilderness.” Part bored, and part cold, I gazed across the dark lake at the warm lights of the Carlin Lake Lodge. Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne had both lodged here back in the day, evidently. Imagine those two in the same room.

I noticed that I had a flag up on my tip-up. Finally. I knelt to set the hook.

As I drew up the line, hand over hand, I felt something heavy, and I peered into the black hole with my headlamp. I glimpsed the creature when it hit the bottom of the ice. It seemed to have arms, not fins, and a hard shell. I tried to pull it through the hole, but it was too big. What could it be?

Then I saw that white tail tip that warms the hearts of all ice fishers. It was a walleye, a good one. But what else? A snapping turtle maybe, woke up to eat my catch? Too big for the hole. If I wanted the fish, I would have to risk my fingers and reach for it. So I did. Down the icy hole my arm went, and my fist came back full of walleye. A nice 20 incher!

But that other thing was still down there, still on my line. Who knows what lurks in the last wilderness. So. I reached back down the hole and grasped one of its arms, or legs, and pulled. And finally, it came up.

Not a snapping turtle. A baseball mitt! “Play Ball Junior Model.” “Special Vinyl Leather.” Quite a catch.

I’m Chris Fink and that’s my Perspective.