In nineteen hundred and ninety six
On May the eleventh day,
We packed the beer and cooler in the trunk
For Bemidji bore away, brave boys,
For Bemidji bore away.

And when we reached the lake that day
We found an inch of ice
We wished ourselves at a tavern in the town
And we thought a fire would be nice, brave boys,
And we thought a fire would be nice.

And we pushed our boat out from the shore
But the ice pack held it tight
And Ernie reached into his tackle box,
To get his dynamite, brave boys,
To get his dynamite.

He lit the fuse and threw it in
And we waited for the ice to burst
And we waited awhile, then he cried, "Oh no,
That was four pounds of bratwurst, brave boys,
That was four pounds of bratwurst."

Our spirits sank as the boat sat tight
For we could not navigate,
Then the waters boiled as a thousand fish
Went for the bratwurst bait, brave boys,
Went for the bratwurst bait.

A thousand fish around our boat
And we grabbed them with our hands
And we filled our bucket and we filled up our boots
And we filled our wading pants, brave boys,
We filled our wading pants.

And Ernie opened a can of beer
To celebrate the catch,
And he reached in his tackle box to get a cigar
And I saw him light the match, brave boys,
I saw him light the match.

The cigar blew Ernie into East Grand Forks
And me to West Duluth,
And since my life was spared that day
I've resolved to tell the truth, brave boys,
I will always tell the truth.

© 1996 Garrison Keillor