What are you thankful for?

I have always loved fishing, ever since my dad put the new Zebco 202 in my hand around the age of 7.  I remember the times spent in that old olive green boat on the cranberry marshes of central Wisconsin.  There was a gap in my fishing for many years.  I still went out, but not as often.  This was mostly due to where I was living, but also because life was happening (full time job while attending full time college, a baby, etc, etc, etc.).

Fast forward to four years ago when my family moved 1 mile from an amazing fishery.  My father-in-law gave me his 12' flat bottom jon boat to use in the small reservoir.  It was a perfect fishing vessel and landed several respectable bass.

The following year I started getting a bit more serious, spending more time on the water and jumping into a baitcaster.  I was having fun, but was spending a lot more time working and doing other things.

Now fast forward to last winter, when my perspective on everything, especially life, changed.

It was December 2015, my wife was 8 1/2 months pregnant, expecting our second child any day. She had been having complications throughout the pregnancy and was on her 8th week of full bed rest, which had followed many months of on-again off-again restrictions. Our 5 1/2 year old (she insisted on the 1/2) daughter was excited to have a little brother on the way. My wife had a weekly check-up with her doctor, she went into town while I stayed home with our daughter. She was going to discuss the scheduled induction with her doctor, as we weren't sure if her ever rising blood pressure would hold off for another 5 days. At her appointment they found that her BP had risen to an alarming number and decided that she would be induced that evening rather than waiting. This was not really an alarming decision as the baby was a healthy size and we knew that it would be best for both mom and baby if this was the course we took.

The process started and all was going very well.  Her cousin and his wife came up to help watch our daughter until her parents and brother came up to be there.  We were all laughing, taking pictures and discussing how excited we all were to hold this baby boy who she had went through hell to keep in the womb until it became life threatening for her to do so. The labor nurse came in and told us it wouldn't be long now, but then noticed the baby's heartbeat beginning to drop.  A normal event in some cases, the nurse said a little re-positioning should move the baby around and help the cord to move to a better position.  The baby's heart rate did not increase.  The nurse calmly asked one of the other nurses to page the doctor.  The next couple hours were a blur.

During labor, our son's umbilical cord began to make it's way ahead of our his head and became lodged.  This cut off his blood and oxygen flow.  They had to rush my wife into surgery for an emergency C-Section.  Luckily, the surgical team was there already and were able to do it quickly.  As I waited in the room, in scrubs, waiting for a nurse to come get me, a million thoughts ran through my head. This wait ended up being 45 minutes. In that 45 minutes I was wondering, is my wife okay? Is my son okay? What are we going to do if he doesn't survive? How will we tell our daughter? What will I do if something happens to my wife? 45 minutes is a long time to ponder such questions. The anxiety just continued to build, until finally someone brought me to her.

When I was able to visit her in the OR, our son was still being worked on by the doctors.  My wife was very upset, he had come out limp and blue.  They couldn't detect a breath or heartbeat. I was able to see him between the circle of doctors working on him.  Our family doctor was there. She took me into a room and explained the severity of the situation. They resuscitated him for 40 minutes before they were able to get his heartbeat back. It was highly likely he had suffered brain damage, but he would need to be assessed further to determine the extent of such damage. He needed to be transferred to a specialty hospital in Minneapolis.  They would normally transport via helicopter, but they couldn't fly in the icy conditions as it was sleeting.  An ambulance specially equipped to transport infants was en route to get him from Minneapolis. My wife was not going to be able to be transferred to a hospital near him until the following day so I drove up to spend the night with him because we did not want him to be alone.

The days that followed were an excruciating roller coaster. For the next 72 hours he had to be on a special cooling blanket.  We couldn't hold him or cover him in a blanket as he shivered. He was sedated and connected to many different machines including a 24 hour EEG machine that was monitoring for seizure activity.  They were keeping him cold to reduce brain activity which would allow the swelling to go down after what they consider a brain trauma.  A few days before Christmas, he had an MRI to officially check the extent of damage done to the brain after being deprived of oxygen during his 40 minutes of resuscitation. Before taking him to the radiology department, my wife was allowed to hold our son for the first time. When he came back from the MRI, I was able to hold him and our daughter was able to meet her brother for the first time. These moments will stay with me forever.

I don't remember how long we waited that afternoon for those MRI results, but when the Neurologist came in the room, sat down in front of myself, my wife and our mothers, she smiled, shook her head and said "This MRI is your Christmas miracle.". The MRI appeared to be completely normal. She said that if she didn't know better she would believe that they baby lying in front of us was not the baby whose birth story was so traumatic and horrific.  A true Christmas miracle that nobody, the doctors included, could believe.  Normally in these circumstances the baby would have significant brain damage and resulting disabilities that would last a lifetime. Although they could not guarantee us that he would not have delays later on, the neurologist said that she did not see anything on the scan that would indicate he would have anything but a normal life.  Our son was completely healthy, inside and out as if his birth had been a normal and uneventful.

The next several days would be spent bringing him out of sedation, feeding him for the first time and letting his body adjust to doing everything on it's own. We could only cross our fingers that he would make fast work of this so he could be home for Christmas.

My wife called me after the doctors made their rounds Christmas Eve morning. Our Christmas wish was being granted and  Jackson would be coming home on Christmas Day!  I made the hour drive to Minneapolis to pick him and my wife up first thing in the morning while family stayed with our daughter.  We brought him home that day and had a Christmas we will never forget.

Our son Jackson "Jax" enjoying
the comfort of my FeelFree Lure
Events like this change your perspective on life.  From the nurses and doctors that went above and beyond throughout the whole process, saving his life; to the family and friends that helped us in ways they will never know (our friends/neighbors even insisted my daughter and I join them for their family Christmas eve so we weren't alone that evening).  Even my employer made an impact by being more than understanding and accommodating of our situation by allowing me to take 8 weeks paid off to care for my recovering wife and fragile son.

Since then, my appreciation for life, and enjoyment of fishing have increased exponentially. I am taking pleasure in the little things rather than the big things. Prior to this event, a fishing boat was on my wish list but not feasible. Instead, I ordered my FeelFree Lure in February, sight unseen.  It was love at first sight and I have never looked back or considered a fishing boat since.  Fishing in a kayak brings me closer to nature than a boat ever could.  The no maintenance, zero noise, and ability to go anywhere has been the perfect vessel for my new "Smell the Roses" attitude.  Every day I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health, and those amazing days on the water.

This is my first, and likely, only article that will be mostly off-topic. I wanted to share this event with you so you are able understand the beginnings of Small Craft Fisherman. My passion is kayak fishing, but it was derived from a deep personal revelation. I choose to share my experiences with you through my written word in an attempt to paint the beautiful picture that is kayak fishing.  If, in my 7 months of writing, I have brought one smile to one face, or made one reader feel like they were in the kayak with me, I have succeeded.  Should you not like my words, I have included my favorite pictures of the season, which offer a visual of the beauty kayak fishing brings to my life.  I sincerely thank you for letting me into your life every week by taking you on my amazing adventures and allowing me to share a hobby that started at childhood but truly came alive and morphed into a true passion with one life-altering event.

I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Into the Mystic
Photo By: Mitchell Iverson

Big Lake
Photo by: Chang Lor of www.cxfishing.com

TourneyTag Sunrise

Fun and stable for the whole family!

Breathtaking summer sunset

Looking for bass in the summer sunrise

Mississippi tank
Photo by: Chang Lor of www.cxfishing.com

Glowing sunrise

Wisconsin 6.5lb Largemouth
Photo by: Chang Lor of www.cxfishing.com

Glassy Fall Morning

Trees Afire

Wisconsin Northwoods Fall Sunrise

Unbeatable glassy fall sunrise

Clear blue fall day, Wizard Staff in back
Photo by: Chang Lor of www.cxfishing.com

Paddling goodbye to the last kayak
sunset of the season


  1. Beautiful story. I'm lucky that nothing so traumatic led me to kayak fishing! Thanks for sharing.


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