You just gotta go to know
“Holiday weekends bring out the crazies,” shouted a nearby fisherman Saturday morning. He directed his assessment in my direction, but said it loud enough for the folks that had just idled across his line to hear.
I try to not even fish weekends, must less a holiday, but there I was Saturday morning with more folks than I normally carry as well. Because they don’t get to fish much, I abandoned what had been a very productive but more difficult pattern to fish, in lieu of fishing something more user friendly.
After several practice casts and deciding whether they were more comfortable reeling with their left or right hand, I tied them on plastic tails and headed for one of the shallow flats just off the ICW. Not surprisingly, it looked more like a used boat lot than a potential catching spot and I opted for an unoccupied point near deeper water.
The wind was not a factor and when the first stop yielded a few keeper trout, I decided to fish the passes with the least boat traffic the rest of the trip. We finished the morning with a very good box of 15 to 19-inch trout and one solid flounder. We culled at least 50 to 75 small trout and rat reds, but the non-stop action proved to be a great trade off.
Unlike the earlier assessment regarding the sanity of holiday anglers, I truly believe most of their less than courteous actions are the result of inexperience. The same things happen in the middle of the week as well, but there are fewer confrontations due to a combination of lighter fishing pressure and more experienced anglers.
Idling across someone else’s line is still tough to ignore, however, especially when the offender had to idle between the shoreline and the other fisherman to make that happen. Not an hour later, I watched two more anglers motor into the path of another fisherman only to find themselves stuck in the mud.
When the approaching angler troll motored around them without voicing his displeasure, they asked him to hook on and pull them to deeper water. He tactfully suggested that they get out of the boat and push it into deeper water and continued fishing. That was not an example of them acting crazy…that was just plain rude.
We were wade fishing a shallow flat Friday when a beautiful 24-foot bay boat inexplicably zeroed in on us even though his big engine was already dragging on bottom. As they drew closer, it became apparent that there was no one at the wheel. A frantic younger man raced to the front of the boat and lowered the troll motor.
Less than a cast away, the shinny yellow and white boat ground to a stop as the troll motor folded under the bow. “I am very sorry,” stated the frustrated dad over the shrieks of his daughter and admonishing of his outwardly embarrassed wife. “I only have 12 hours on this engine and it just quit without warning!”
The solution to his problem was obviously dangling from his right wrist on a red cord. When his daughter’s cold drink slid off the front deck he slowed the boat, left the wheel and walked to the front to wipe up the mess on the floor of his new boat. When he returned to the wheel the engine was dead and would not start, but that is not unusual once the kill switch is removed.
That does not fall in the crazy category…just inexperience. He obviously spent his money well and everything functioned as designed, but there was at least one section he skipped in the owner’s manual.
Most of the incidents that irritate the regulars on the lake are amplified simply because of the increased traffic on a holiday or even a weekend. Had no one been around, the incident would have been little more than an oversight and a lesson learned.
Holiday or not, we see these things repeated on a more frequent basis across the summer. Minor boat handling bloopers and boat launch fiascos can test the mettle of more seasoned anglers, but should be tolerated as we have all been there at one time.
If you have never had an embarrassing moment in the boat, then you never owned a boat. Have you ever forgotten to check the drain plug or backed the boat in with the transom straps still attached? That all counts!
Just ask Kelly Mays, a proud MeMaw that now crappie fishes darn near every day on T-Bend about the time she panicked while trying to back her husband in the water at the public launch on Rayburn on a busy 4th of July weekend. After several failed attempts and much twisting around hunting the trailer in her rear view mirror, she managed to wind the front of her shirt around the knob on the steering wheel so tightly that she could not steer nor turn around.
She eventually just ripped all of the buttons off her shirt, rolled up the tinted windows and honked the horn until Gerald climbed out the boat and rescued her. It didn’t help that her six year old son, now a 35-year-old touring pro angler, was riding shotgun and telling her what she was doing wrong the entire time.
“You just gotta go to know!”