PRIEST LAKE, Idaho – Fishermen and their far-fetched fables are about as common as the trout in Priest Lake. Over the years Calvin Nolan and Mark Blackstone have reeled in plenty of both. But their most famous fishing folk-tale isn't about their prize catch, rather what they most recent hook already caught.
Nolan and Blackstone were fishing out on their boat in Priest Lake. They caught many lake trout and just decided to clean them right away. As Calvin was cleaning the fish, both were examining the contents of what was inside. In one of the fish, they found a crawdad. In the next fish, they saw something they thought was just another crawdad, but as Nolan discovered, it wasn't.
"I opened the gut sack and out pops this finger!" Nolan exclaimed.
Blackstone also recalls the event.
"We are all standing there because we were helping Calvin clean the fish. So we were all standing there looking at it like, yep, that's a finger," Blackstone said.
Shocked by what they saw, the question of where it came from started rushing through their minds. At first they thought it might be from a fishing accident, then they thought a dead body might be on the bottom of the lake. Nolan remembers it clear as day.
"It was a smaller finger. We weren't sure if it was a kid's or a woman's. So we speculated a few times, could be this, could be that. We figured we would let the Sheriff's Department figure it out."
Nolan immediately called the Bonner County Sheriff's Office about his interesting find. When Sergeant Gary Johnston first heard about it, he was just as puzzled as the fishermen. Sgt. Johnston had one of his deputies go pick up the finger, which Nolan had on a bed of ice. Sgt. Johnston and the rest of the Sheriff's Office fished through their records, trying to find any clues to piece this puzzle together. That's when they found record of a wakeboarding accident.
It was July of 2012. Haans Galassi and his friends were out on his boat, wakeboarding on Priest Lake. Then, the boat turned, and the rope slacked and tangled around Galassi's hand.
"My hand felt numb, weird and I thought I better check to makes sure my hand is still there. I pulled my hand out of the water and just saw carnage," Galassi remembered.
But he didn't go into shock. In fact, he was very calm and collected about the whole thing. Galassi said, "I thought, man that's a bummer. I ripped all my fingers off. I can't believe I did this."
In fact, when his friends asked why a surgeon wasn't able to sew his fingers back on, he joked that his fingers were currently a fish. "I just assumed they were going to be fish food," Galassi said.
But he never expected to hear about them again. That is, until Sgt. Johnston called.
Galassi is just shocked the fish was actually caught. "Out of that huge lake, it's pretty amazing they caught that fish that had my finger," Galassi exclaimed.
Sgt. Johnston and the Bonner County Sheriff's Office has offered to give Galassi his finger back. But as of now, Galassi doesn't seem to need it. "Why would I want a 2 month old dead finger? What am I going to do with it?," Galassi asked.
This one time wake boarder may not be a fisherman, but now, he has his own fish story to tell.