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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Leo and the Lab by Joe Campolo, Jr.

Ice fishing is a hoot. Most anyone who ever fished the “hard water” has a good ice fishing story or two. I have several, but this may be the best one.

Many years ago, I went ice fishing with my friend Leo (RIP). Leo was a true outdoorsman; he fished, hunted and trapped year round and was always up for an outing …..along with a twelve pack of Stroh’s.

Leo had invited me to join him at his ice fishing shack on the Chain of Lakes in Lake County, Illinois. We hooked up on the next Saturday morning; it was a nice day, not too cold and little wind.

While Leo fished in his shack, I started chopping holes a short distance away to set up some tip-ups for northern pike or bass.

At that time power augers were rare, and even the handheld Swedish augers hadn’t made their appearance yet so everyone chopped holes in the ice with a “spud”. A spud is a large steel bar with a large chisel blade welded to one end. The nature of the spud allowed one to make a hole as large as one liked, so long as he didn’t mind all the grunt work required to do it.

Now the shack next to Leo’s was also occupied that morning, by a man and his black lab. The man had caught a small fish he didn’t want to keep so he tossed it back into the hole. Well, the lab being a lab got excited and jumped right into the hole after it!

This is where the story really gets good. The lab, swimming under water in pursuit of the fish, soon lost his bearings. He did manage to find his way under Leo’s shack, however, and quickly clamored out of the water through Leo’s hole!

Imagine Leo, fishing in the dark shack, well into his cups when all of a sudden this large black creature jumped out of his hole!

Stunned, Leo started yelling, fell backward in his chair, turned onto his stomach, jumped up and with the lab right on his heels, slammed into the door, knocking it right off its hinges!

Having heard the commotion, I looked over to see Leo rapidly exiting the shack with the lab right behind him. To add insult to injury the lab then knocked Leo over and trampled him before running off like a scalded cat.

The frenzied owner of the lab, having left his shack, witnessed this event and started yelling and chasing after his lab, trampling poor Leo again!
All of this rolled before my eyes as if in slow motion, and once I started laughing I couldn’t stop. Once he gathered his wits about him, Leo couldn’t either.

As we loosely rehung Leo’s shanty door, the owner of the lab returned with the miscreant pooch in tow, and after another good laugh with a beverage or two, we all resumed our fishing efforts.


Leo passed away some years ago, but told and retold, the story never failed to get everyone laughing, and still does to this day.

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You can find Joe's blog at http://namwarstory.com/blog/.

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