There is a model of PFD that will suit everyone and absolutely no reason not to wear one.

 

 

 

 

 

For The Record-  Capt Chuck Uzzle

As the mercury creeps up into a more comfortable range outside as well as on the
water, don’t let that fool you into feeling too secure at this time of the year.
February on the Texas gulf coast can be down right brutal with all the rank
weather we receive at this time of the year. Bone chilling winds coupled with
humid overcast days can make even the toughest fisherman wish for a warm spot in
the truck and hot cup of coffee. When late winter fronts pass through and
temperatures outside sag down near freezing most anglers take precautions and
wear the best foul weather gear they can get their hands on. Nobody forgets to
grab that windproof jacket or the thermal underwear because those are no
brainers. With spring time approaching we tend to forget just how cold it can
get on the water as well as in the water. The one piece of outerwear that nearly
every fisherman does without is the most important, a life jacket. Yes I am just
as guilty as the next guy when it comes to not wearing a PFD (Personal
Floatation Device) but that is going to change this year, that’s my own personal
resolution for 2008 and I will tell you why.
Several years ago I met a guy who became one of my best friends; I actually took
him on his first real saltwater trip into Sabine lake as well as many trips to
Toledo end. This guy took to the sport of fishing like there was no tomorrow and
he got pretty good at it along the way. Before too long he purchased a boat and
was fishing every chance he got, mostly in Sabine lake because it was close to
home. He figured out some of the subtleties of the sport and seemed to
understand how to fish and where to go, he had found his hobby.
During one stretch of winter months my friend, who mostly fished by himself,
made what appeared to be another normal trip out on the bay. The weather was a
little rougher than he liked it so he decided to head for a protected shoreline
on the east side of the lake. Now if you have ever been on Sabine lake you know
there is little traffic in the wide open middle part of the lake, especially on
choppy days. Now my friend is making his way across the lake as best he can
considering the waves and direction of the wind. All was going according to plan
until he had motor trouble, which was the first problem. As the boat stalled out
and drifted helpless against the conditions it was just a matter of time before
he started taking waves over the transom. It was just minutes until the boat
began to stand nose up sink. Can you imagine the feeling?
Within minutes the boat was completely capsized and floating miles from any
shore with my friend clinging to the bow eye for dear life. Now mind you this is
winter and the water temps are low 50’s so you can just visualize the shock his
system has just gone through. While telling me his story he said he really
thought he might die before someone came to help, either from drowning or
hypothermia. Some 30 minutes into the horrifying ordeal he spotted a crabber
nearby running his traps, calling to him did no good as he was just too far
away. That must have been tough to see help so close yet so far away. After
another 20 minutes in the water his prayers were answered as 2 men in another
boat happened to see him as they were headed back to the dock. They kind
strangers gave him a slicker suit to put on and rushed him back to the dock to
seek medical attention at the coast guard station. A warm shower, cup of coffee,
and dry clothes were welcome reminders that he had reached dry land and indeed
was safe. Every time we fish together I thank the big fisherman upstairs for
those 2 men who saved my friends life.
That story really hits home when it’s someone you know and realize that just as
easily could have been me or you. Now I agree that the old style PFD’s were
uncomfortable and bulky, that’s why nobody wanted to wear them. I am guilty of
only wearing one if I have my son Hunter in the boat with me instead of wearing
one all the time. With all the new styles of PFD’s out there you can surely find
one that suits you, I have fallen in love with the suspender style models that
can inflate on their own or can be inflated manually. They are comfortable and
easy to fish in which means they are less of a hassle to wear. In addition to
the PFD it’s a great idea to add some sort of signaling device to the PFD, like
a whistle. The sound of a whistle can be heard much farther that your voice,
especially if you have been screaming for a while or get cold. I have waded with
anglers who wear just such a set up and it has many helpful uses. I know one
fisherman who used the whistle to signal for help when he got stuck by a ray and
couldn’t walk. Just something to think about next time you head on the water