When a surgeon tells you that there is no reason you should still be alive, you know you're lucky to have survived a freak and frightening accident while fishing.

A lot of anglers in Montana use these rigs and can probably picture how this might have happened. But for those unfamiliar, we'll give you a mini description. And while the incident happened in our neighboring state of South Dakota last week, we know the Montana fishing community will send positive thoughts his way.

Briefly, a bottom bouncer (pictured) is a device designed to keep your fishing lures on or near the bottom of the body of water being fished. A weight is centered between thin, sharp metal rods. It is a common tactic used while trolling slowly, running fishing line out beyond the bottom bouncer, far enough that the fish aren't distracted, yet close enough that your bait of choice stays deep.

It was a fabulous day of walleye fishing for Todd Thesenvitz, his wife and daughter. They were fishing near Clark SD, when Todd hooked a whopper. His wife Marie takes it from here:

"We were pulling spinners with bottom bouncers and doing very well. We almost had our walleye limit and a few nice perch. There was a bite on Todd’s pole which he grabbed and fought what turned out to be a monster northern. He brought the fish to the surface and the northern broke the hook and took off. It all happened so fast from this point. I had been ready to net the fish and was standing in front of Todd so we don’t believe he saw the fish get off. I moved to put the net away since we didn’t need it anymore when Todd screamed.. “OH! My chest!!” We went immediately into crisis mode.. The bottom bouncer hand penetrated his chest.

We convinced him to NOT pull it out. I reeled the other lines in and got the trolling motor up and the big engine started. I had NEVER driven the boat before now. It took us about 13 minutes to follow the GPS back to the boat ramp. I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted because it was too painful for him.

Arriving at the boat ramp there were red lights from every possible entity! Clark County volunteers and paid officers came in full force! Game fish and parks also. There were people everywhere to help with everything. The dispatch lady said she was sending everyone and boy did she!! They helped land the boat got Todd onto the gurney and into the ambulance where they stabilized the bottom bouncer and were quickly in route to Prairie Lakes hospital in Watertown 30 miles away.

In the OR, after opening his sternum, the surgeon found a pericardium that was so full of blood it was now preventing the heart from beating. The surgeon cut open the pericardium and released the blood which caused a blood pressure fluctuation that required life support bypass for heart and lung. The surgeon was able to repair the puncture with a couple of stitches. Removed the bypass but maintained the intubation and sedation to allow time to start healing.

The surgeon was very blunt and said there was no reason Todd was still alive. A lesser man would be dead. If anything had gone any different from the second it happened until he was on the OR table he would not have been able to save him."

Todd is no doubt grateful that a fellow fisherman was watching over him and we wish him a full recovery.

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