By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
On an autumn day in 1912, a family of five set out on the Pigeon River in a canoe. The father was intent on fishing, and the rest of the family to enjoy a day on the water. In this peculiar story they found anything but what they sought.
Toronto, Canada, 1912
William McCafferty brought his wife, his mother, and his two children, age 8 and 13 on a fishing trip. Little did he imagine that the 14-pound muskie he hooked would end all their lives.
McCafferty who was a sales manager for Canadian General Electric Company, made the worse decision when he believed a frail canoe would be enough to keep a party of five afloat.
Evening fell, and the family had not returned. Charles McCafferty, William's father had stayed behind and he became alarmed. A search party quickly organized, and seven miles down the river they found the canoe floating bottom up. All the bodies were recovered when they dragged the river.
The cause of the horrible accident became evident when clutched in McCafferty's hand was the fishing line, with a muskellunge still hooked. It was alive and thrashed violently when it was drawn in. It seems that McCafferty had fallen into the river, and when trying to get back into the canoe he overturned it. None of his family knew how to swim.
In 2021, it was reported that a 56-year-old man fishing on a recreational boat in Northern Australia, was struck on the left side by a Spanish mackerel that jumped out of the water. It weighed approximately 44 pounds. After hitting the man it landed inside the vessel. The fisherman was seen by witnesses moving to the bow where his condition deteriorated. Medical assistance was brought immediately, and he died an hour later despite resuscitative efforts.
He was hit by the fish below his left nipple. An autopsy showed considerable blunt force traumatic injury to the left inferior part of the chest, and at the abdomen directly under the point of impact. His seventh to ninth ribs were fractured, and he had 250mL of blood in the peritoneal cavity.
In 2015, a 5-year-old girl traveling on a boat on the Suwanee River, died when a sturgeon jumped into the boat and hit her. Her brother and mother were also injured. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said this was the first fatality, however four people had been injured by sturgeons that year alone.
These fish are known for leaping more than 7 feet above water. They have hard plates along their back, and grow up to 8 feet long and weight 200 pounds.
In 2020, a woman was standing in chest-deep water at North Star Village along the Winnipeg River when she was attacked by a muskie. The fish bit her leg and moved her from side to side, and pulled her under water.
The year before, Captain Randy Llanes, 47, was impaled by a swordfish.
The incident happened in Honokohau Small Boat Harbor (Hawaii), when a swordfish measuring 4 to 6 feet with a 3-foot bill was found in the harbor. This is unusual since this fish is usually found in deep waters. The captain was aware of the value of the swordfish meat, and dived in to spear it. His line became entangled with the boat's mooring line. The swordfish spun backwards and speared Llanes in the chest.
"Broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) are referred to as gladiators of the sea. They’re notoriously powerful and prone to fits of rage, especially after becoming hooked by anglers."
There are reports that these fish have attacked boats, even a submersible vessel which was at 2,000 feet of depth. When the sub was brought up the swordfish was still attached and dead.
They put up a lengthy fight, which is why they're sought after by sports fishermen.
Zane Grey, a well-known author of adventures stories, once hooked a giant swordfish off Santa Catalina Island that fought him through the day and into the night. About 11 hours later it broke the line and swam off.
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