Super Bowl XLV: The Spinning Spindle

I love my wife, Mooney. I love my family and my friends. And then a peg down are the Packers and Fishing. That's all the things I really care about. That's the truth, dear readers. If you've read my work over the last few years, you know that's the case. It's all I write about, 'cause I only write about what's important... Most of the time.

Tomorrow is going to be a special day in our lives. Even if you can't be together, in the same room watching the game, we will all be connected, focused, gazing into the game itself with purpose and appreciation. I love this picture of Ronnie Rodgers. I feel like we're looking at the same thing, he and I, and all of you, too.

I'm going ice fishing today so I can stare out at the frozen lake and get some fresh air. I'll just pace around the house if I don't get out of here and do some-thing, so I might as well do one of my favorite things while I pass the time. How many of yous have ice fished before? It's more trapping than fishing, and definitely relaxing.

Other than watching the Packers score a touch-down, there are few things as exciting that watching a flag pop on a tip-up:

From the cozy shell of my shanty I peer out over the spread, me and my buddies, and we each have three traps set in the snow (the legal limit in Wisconsin). Remember the pattern of their dispersion. Trace back and forth with those eyes like an owl. Some days we'll look out and never see a flag. And some days there are flags flying fast and loose! You never know until you get out there. Beneath each trap is a spool of braided line, with a length dropping down into the depths of the lake, connected to a strong leader and a hook and hope-fully a massive shiner or sucker. When I get a real big bait I name it and call out occasionally: Paul! Keep wiggling! You're doing great work! I've often imagined what those bait are thinking down there, in the darkness, suspended over weeds or pebbles or sand. Do the pike growl at them as they approach? I hope the minnow doesn't know what is about to happen.

The Alpha Predator of the lake is my target, dear readers. Right as the moon goes down and the sun nears the trees, the lighting is finally right for an ambush. From the deep edge of the drop-off the 50-inch pike surges and pounds my minnow on the run, and by pulling out line, the spool spins the spindle and releases the flag, which leaps up from the surface of the lake into the wind, alerting us in the shanty that some-thing has taken the bait.

"Tip-up!!!" I scream, bursting out of the shanty like I have explosives in my boots. Some guys do the crab-walk and take their time, hoping the pike will swallow the hook into his guts. That's the meat-hunter way. I may eat a fish, but I also want the option of releasing it, after a photo and a kiss. And I'm too excited any-ways, I've gotta run, fast as I can. The approach to the trap is my favorite part. As you near the flag, flapping in the wind, you must focus on the spindle itself, that small metal 'T-bar' that tells the story. If it's still the pike is probably gone, or maybe the shiner got feisty and tugged the line. But if you see the spinning spindle, dear readers, you know it's time for battle. Some-times the spindle is spinning so fast you can't see it at all, achieving invisibility through helicoptery, and you know the fish is on a full-on sprint.

This is what I see as I approach the trap, and no matter how many times I see that, it'll always make me mildly dizzy with anticipation. My brain is wired to release amazing endorphins whenever I see the spinning spindle - or a touch-down. I know this spot is a premium location, we're in a premium time window, and it's probably a monster of a pike. Sliding to my knees I punch the skim ice out of the hole with my bare knuckles and grab the trap with my left, exposing the spool itself, and in the same motion, my right snares the running line and stops the pike in its tracks. Hello, big feller. I don't believe we've met...

Have you ever caught a huge fish without the fishing pole? Hand to hand combat with a pike is probably the coolest way to encounter a predator in the wild. The first tug will let you know if it's a big one and yes, dear readers, this is a monster. I know right away that this is the kind of fish you only encounter once or twice a winter. This is a rare fish. My heart freezes as we fight, taking line and bringing it in. The next few moments are crucial...


And tomorrow is the Super Bowl. And tomorrow is our chance at a 13th NFL Championship. And tomorrow is a chance to remind this planet that the Green Bay Football Packers are the finest franchise that ever was. Look at those clear eyes, that purpose-ful glimmer. See what this moment is giving you, a chance at some-thing spectacular! You pull in the line hand over hand and here comes the blitz and Jennings is behind the safety. Throw it! Throw it! It's a touch-down! Glory! Glory! Glory! Look at the size of this pike!!!


The Super Bowl and the Spinning Spindle, folks, but how does it really end? Like every-thing, it comes down to blocking and tackling, execution, patience and aggression, applied correctly. I think we'll stop Mendenhall from running effectively, just as I stopped this big pike, because the Steelers offensive line is the weakest link remaining, on either team. And once we take away the run, it'll be open season on Roethlisberger, who doesn't have the weapons that we have.

That's where the game will be won or lost, dear readers. But I'm really looking forward to watching Rodgers work. I think they're gonna throw it all over the dome, and I see big numbers for #12 by the end of the day. Tomorrow is going to be a special day in our lives and even though I pick the Packers in every game, I've watched the tape, and I truly believe this is going to end well for the Green and Gold. I am confident, so let's mark it already: Steelers 17, Packers 33.

Du-DA---DA-duda-da: GO PACK GO!

May your wings be hot and your Super-Bowl party fantastic!
Until next time,