Oh man, I have a lot of those! Well, I'll think of some good ones, but a lesson I learned recently that I remember well is pretty ridiculous.
I was fishing on my favorite river for Coho salmon. The fishing hole was full of humpies and silvers. It was nearly impossible to get to the bottom without hooking a pink, which was fun, but also frusterating because there were big Coho sharking around through them. After a while I get a nice big silver to bite and it jumps around like a crazy person, all fun. I land the fish and put it on the stringer tied to my branch with a really good knot. I wanted to make sure the fish didn't pull too hard and untie itself, because I planned on fishing all day, I like to keep the fish alive until I leave so that they don't spoil, I don't like to carry a cooler full of ice a mile while I'm fishing. I really should get a Katch Kooler, but I haven't yet. The fish calms down and hides under the bank and just sits complacently.
I keep fishing and eventually catch another giant bright buck to go with the hen. After landing the fish I grab it by the gill and wade out to my branch to get my stringer. My left hand holding the buck, my right attempting to untie my super knot from the branch I fumble with the stringer, and it's really tough to get the knot undone. So I use my fingers sticking out from the gills of the buck to grab the knot. As I do this, the buck starts chomping down on my hand and thumb, using it's super godzilla salmon teeth to begin perforating the skin of my hand with wicked mean bitey thrashing. Blood starts to drain down his side like a waaterfall of red koolaid on a hot sumer day. It's really quite painful, like an angry dog after you've stolen his Iams and bony meat stick at the same time the big bright buck starts using all of it's leftover energy to eat at the hand and it feels like a someone is taking a belt sand to my hand and laughing.
As the buck thrashes, I've got one free hand on the stringer and I'm thigh deep in the channel standing precariously on some rocks. Below the rocks is a drop off of a good six feet or so, and an undercut bank where my hen is acting like she's all stunned and complacent, just minding her business. I finally get the super knot undone and with my good hand I unwrap the double loop around the tree branch as I feel my felt soles start to slip on the algae covered rock at my feet and a sinking feeling starts to develop in my stomach.
It all happened so fast. The buck started to thrash with a renewed will to live as I pull the stringer taut to bring up the hen to double up the stringer with tasty coho. As the stringer comes up, the hen realizes that she's getting tugged on again by the jaw and she's gained a bunch of her strength back, she gets bonked on the head by the angry buck's tail and freaks the heck out. She gives a vigorous death roll pulling with all her salmony might, and i n a time span of maybe three seconds I feel the six feet of string slip through my bleeding fingers, burning me with rough nylon crackling with a big giant rope burn and the darn metal bit jabs me and dang near rips of my thumbnail as it briefly catches in my hand before launching under water and darting away.
The fish starts to drag the stringer under like a runaway dog with a long leash and without thinking very much about it I dive head first in a heroic six foot leap, belly flop with my right arm outsretched grasping for the end of the stringer with the buck still jerking around in the other hand I manage to grab the stringer by the very tip. This darn fish still has a lot of energy and spunk and as I desperately try to hold both fish the hen starts to drag me out to the middle of the pool as I feel my chest waders start to fill up with very uncomfortable water, I look like an idiot holding both these stupid fish while getting cold and getting towed down the river. The rope start burning through my hand again, I just can't concentrate any more as I'm bobbing along and the hen starts to win, I reflexively scrape my other hand as I release the big buck, his gills start to tear at the top of my hand and grab the string one last time with both hand, it still burns right through as I make one last fast six foot tug it slips completely free and the hen escapes. I'm now bobbing stationary in the middle of the river, fishless and wet, when I see that the buck had lost a lot of blood in the whole ordeal and is struggling at the bottom of the pool, which at this point is about six or seven feet deep. I, being already soaked and impulsive go for the dive, gear and all struggling against my buoyant neoprene as bubbles escape from my zipper rain gear I grab a tree branch sticking up from the muddy bottom as the leftover air in my waders suspends me completely upside down in the water, still wearing my hat and I can only imagine how ridiculous I look as I grasp for the tail of the struggling fish. I grab it by the tail with a quick tug, let go of the tail and feel my hand start to slide down the fishes side and my fingers slip perfectly into it's gill plate and I grab on with a death grip. I right myself and push off from the bottom and breach the surface with the propulsion of the extra floatation that my waders provide holding the fish above my head in the air. It's tail thrashing, throwing water in my face I tread water triumphantly to the gravel bar having managed to save one of my two fish for the table, which upon arrival on shore I quickly bonk, and tear out the gills and throw up into the bushes so I don't lose the basssturd fish.
All of this happened really fast and the other guys that I'd been fishing with are rightly worried about me floating away and drowning. I yell out as I'm laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of what just happened "I'm okay! No Worries!" and then tensions relieved we all start laughing.
I still fish until I get my limit, bonking each fish as I catch it. It wasn't that bad, the water in my waders heated up and actually acted as an insulator and I started to sweat in the heat. None of the fish I catch were quite as nice as that 15+ hen though. She stayed in the hole all day, every now and then swimming erratically jumping like crazy as if to rub it in that she escaped, while trying to dislodge the stringer. We'd see a yellow rope just dart by below us and laugh at it.
While you might be worried that I was taking my life in my hand by diving in the water I was never in any danger. The hole is only about fifty feet long and the tail out ends with a slow riffle that's only six inches deep, the water was not moving very fast and I'm a very strong swimmer. Had it been in the least bit dangerous I would not have leapt, as always safety first. I just had a ridiculous escapade that taught me a valuable lesson:
Be VERY careful when stringing up another fish when you've got a live chromer on the other end. From now on in that circumstance I'll triple wrap the stringer around my free hand before untying it. Also, leave the second fish safely on the bank while you retrieve the stringer. Since then I have fashioned my own rope stringer with large locking caribiners so I don't have to worry about untying the stringer any more. This was a very ridiculous lesson to learn, but I learned it nevertheless. I just got careless and cocky and paid the price.