By Alvin Richardson
Today’s lessons in avoidance of maritime disasters come courtesy of long painful experience that includes various dunkings, dumpings, divings, and even a few Olympic style backflips. Hopefully my errors in judgment will help you steer clear of similar disasters and predicaments as you launch your craft into the ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans of the world.
Rule number one is to never, under any circumstances, allow your girlfriend of two weeks into your john boat on a fishing excursion. It is very likely that she is only trying to impress you with her bold and fearless spirit of adventure. Although there are possible exceptions, most of the time this will turn into a catastrophe. My experience in this matter is first hand. I once consented to take a young lady with me to a local pond. Even though she had beat the water to a froth with her casting skills she was actually able to hook a rather large bass.
As is often the case the fish was displeased that something sharp was in its mouth and proceeded to make a twisting turning jump out of the water. At this point my guest showed off her savvy understanding of the sport by standing up in the boat and screaming. It was, as all good john boat captains know, a fatal error. The boat rocked over quickly due to the weight shift and she quickly went overboard. I was able to retain my seat but was not able to suppress my laughter nor was I able to preserve the relationship. My girlfriend of two weeks did not make it to week three.
Now in the spirit of maintaining sexual equality I need to give the guys equal time. I took a male friend of mine who was relatively new to fishing in general and completely uneducated in john boat etiquette. His mistake was somewhat different but resulted in similar consequences. This incident boiled down to his desire for cleanliness and simple ignorance of the laws of physics. By some miracle he had actually caught a few fish and had even been able to unhook them by himself. This had however, caused his hands to get some fish slime on them so he bent well over well past the point of no return as he washed his hands off in the pond. The boat dipped over at such an angle as to dump him unceremoniously into the drink. In the meantime I was trying to counterbalance his actions by throwing my weight in the opposite direction. Once my boy fell out, the boat dipped wildly in my direction and I did an awkward back flip off the opposite side. In the process reels and tackle boxes were lost and friendships were irreparably damaged.
Boating mishaps are not limited to small boats on tiny bodies of water. Salt water fishing in large crafts can be equally as hazardous. Although no expert at fishing in the briny deep I do have certain hard and fast rules to adhere to. At the top of the list is never to fall into a body of water where large predators with sharp teeth reside. Others I’ve known had to learn that lesson the hard way.
On an offshore excursion I had a friend who was stupidly careless enough to break that rule when he became overly excited while leaning out in an attempt to gaff a rather large fish. Just prior to that hookup we had noticed the presence of several sharks and other toothy critters circling the boat and taking chunks out of fish that were being reeled in so my buddy should have been more careful. Nonetheless he reached out too far with the gaff and lost his balance. As the tipping point was reached and his fate became inevitable I believe a picture of those sharks in the water flashed through his tiny brain and panic immediately set in.
Now I’ve been to three pond drainings, several goat ropings and a slew of coaching conventions and I’ve never seen the likes of what happened next. My fishing companion did something that only one person prior to that time had done – he walked on water. Although he fell completely out of the boat he barely got his deck shoes wet before he clambered back over the gunwale to safety and probably saved himself from becoming known as Stumpy.
There are various other boating problems that can crop up as you try to do a good deed and take a novice fishing. You may encounter hooked flesh, lures hung up in the treetops and an inability to effectively escape the game warden when you are dealing with trainees. You might possibly also have to deal with wasps, hornets, and snakes as you attempt to remove their misfired casts from the bushes.
One final scenario that should be mentioned is the danger of going fishing in someone else’s boat with whom you are not familiar. Minor problems such as leaks and unreliable motors are bound to happen and might leave you stranded but I worry more about major stuff like sinking.
In summation the best rules to remember are when taking a beginner fishing leave the boat at home and fish from the bank. If going with a stranger in his boat, bring your tool box and wear your life jacket.
Email Alvin at firstname.lastname@example.org.