Captain Dickie Colburn – For The Record

Prior to last Monday afternoon I was reasonably certain that over the years I had seen just about everything that could possibly go wrong at a boat ramp do just that.I have seen panic stricken girl friends and wives weep unashamedly while in the midst of jack knifing the boat trailer time and again while their soon to be ex-boyfriends or husbands cussed them from behind the bass boat console.

I once saw a veteran angler back truck, trailer and boat into the lake and much to everyone’s surprise, leave the submerged truck and trailer blocking the launch until after he finished fishing.The marina operator had it towed out, parked it on the side of the launch and was waiting with a hefty bill in hand when the irresponsible angler returned just before dark.

Had there not been a long line of tournament fishermen impatiently waiting to launch their own rigs, the funniest mishap would have easily been the Dad at the Six Mile launch that stepped out of his truck to disconnect the winch strap only to return and discover that the doors were locked and the truck was running.

As it turned out, his four year old son had closed the door and was still inside the truck.All the coaching in the world wasn’t helping the youngster figure out how to unlock the door and it rapidly became a group effort.Dad’s voice had a threatening tone that only resulted in tears and pouting and strangers peering in every window only made things worse.

Eventually a young girl played a game he understood that involved tracing one another’s finger on opposite sides of the window glass and he miraculously finally pressed the right button!

All of which brings us back to the incident last week.We were finishing up a trip when a client asked me what I thought the man standing at the end of the ramp waving his arms wanted.“I have no idea,” I replied as we picked up the troll motor and eased his way.

As we neared the ramp it was quite obvious that his boat had either come untied or simply slid right off the trailer and was slowly drifting further off shore much to his embarrassment.That would have been little more than a minor hiccup had it not been for the fact that his four year old, six year old and two labs were alone and adrift in the boat!

The youngsters weren’t upset at all until I boarded the boat and idled them back to the dock.It really didn’t make much sense. Why would any Dad leave the kids in the boat unattended and go park his truck?

Before I could ask what happened, the frantic Mom climbed out of their truck and raced in our direction wailing between shallow breaths.With the kids and dogs safely in hand and without so much as a “thank you”, the Dad starts berating the Mom. “What the hell were you doing….all you had to do was hold the rope, etc.”

Between curse words, the Dad explained that they had put on their life jackets and loaded the kids up on dry land where it was safer, but when the boat slid off the trailer the bow rope jerked free of the young Mother’s grasp.From that point forward, however, I was very much in Mom’s corner. With her children helplessly drifting away, she raced up the ramp to their truck to call for help. That quick thinking seemed pretty darn logical to me as well.More especially, had her cell phone not been in her purse in …..you guessed it… the boat.

What happened next, however, left even my clients speechless.The belligerent husband, that’s only one man’s opinion, once again handed his wife the same bow rope, walked back to the truck, retrieved his rods and the family rode off with the stereo blaring for an afternoon of fishing. The kids were cute and the dogs were well behaved!

Even with a couple of days of pretty brisk north winds the water is clear, but still high.The birds are working a little better and I think our ratio of keeper to throw back trout has improved as well.There is no doubt that the catching has been much better on the outgoing tide.The redfish bite has rebounded again both in the lake and in the river and bayous.We are catching most of the redfish on Swim baits, but a chrome Rat-L-Trap is working as well.