The catch, like in life, is to minimize mistakes.
Whether it’s errors in judgment or failures in execution, the blunders we suffer can backfire and bite us on the water. A mistake can lead to a missed opportunity, a broken line, a lost fish or even an injury.
This is why we seek to minimize our mistakes.
This does not mean that we always succeed. In fact, I may be at the top of the list of anglers who have managed to find just about every possible way to go wrong.
Fortunately, most of our mistakes can be called relatively minor. Some, however, are the type to get us patted on the head and scolded. “What was I thinking!”
I’m more than capable of making stupid moves when it comes to fishing.
For example, I once towed my boat 500 miles in northern Michigan behind a Chevy Vega. In the mid-1970s, most of us towed boats with the same cars we drove to work. Few of us had pickup trucks or SUVs.
Chevy Impalas, Ford Fairlanes, Pontiacs, Plymouths and Dodges – sedans and station wagons – were all common in the boat launch parking lots. But a Vega, with its small aluminum four-cylinder engine, skimpy brakes and flimsy suspension, was a poor choice for hauling a boat.
Nonetheless, I plugged in my old Arrowglass tri-hull and made the trip to Indian River, Michigan without cooking the transmission or blowing the engine. And then we turned around a week later and towed the rig to Boardman. Chevrolet should have given me a trophy for this achievement.
This was perhaps the first of my bonehead fishing decisions. But certainly not the last.
I launched this same boat one chilly April afternoon at the Berlin Reservoir with high hopes of filling a bucket of crappie. However, we soon realized we had a problem when the carpet on the boat started to get wet.
It didn’t take much deductive power to determine that I had neglected to secure the plug in the transom.
Then there was the moment when on the maiden voyage aboard my new Ranger boat, I felt the need to relieve myself. I was way off in a remote area of Mosquito Lake, away from people who could see what I was doing, so I decided to get to work.
Worried about getting a few drops on the brand new super shiny metal flake fiberglass, I knelt on the gunwale, but my jeans-clad knees slipped off the slick glass and I fell overboard.
That’s not the only time I got soaked while fishing. Back when coho salmon fever was gripping anglers in northeast Ohio, I donned waders and ventured out one frosty December morning on a beautiful run up the Chagrin River to cast spinners.
It was time for a change of venue, so I decided to shorten the river on a route that was pushing way too much water against my lower body. The fast current swept my feet under me and I descended. The belt around the waist of the waders kept them from filling up with water, but my day was ruined.
I could go on, but you get the picture. I have a lot of fun on the water. But I also did some pretty stupid things, but I managed to survive and come back for many more adventures.
Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler”, explores the fun things that make fishing a passion for so many people. He appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to [email protected]