Deep Sea Fishing

With the Bass Master's Classic coming up in February, I got to thinking about times I had traveled to Louisiana.  The Classic is in Shreveport, which is in the northern part of the state.  I have never been to Shreveport and am looking forward to the Classic there.  I have been to New Orleans several times, and like most, have enjoyed the food and good times. 

I remember one time, back in 1990, several of my friends and I decided to go deep sea fishing.  The plan was to go to New Orleans in a motor home and then drop down to Empire, Louisiana where we would charter a boat.  I had been salt water fishing a couple of times, but nothing like this--40 miles out in the Gulf to fish for yellow fin tuna.  I was both excited and a little apprehensive. I'm here to tell you, I love boating and this was a whole new adventure.

I might have known I was heading for trouble the moment I met my friends at the motor home: #1-- the guy responsible for the whole week's beer supply brought Keystone Light.  I'm not a fan of light beer, much less Keystone Light.  We are from Missouri, where's the Budweiser?!  #2-- we ran out of gas somewhere in Mississippi.  The same guy who brought the Keystone was driving. He said he wasn't paying attention to the gas gauge--probably due to the Keystone Light.  Anyway, we finally made it to New Orleans. 

The plan was to stay in New Orleans a couple of days then head to Empire.  This was another bad decision--too much fun in New Orleans.  We left New Orleans with a lot of headaches.

We arrived at the dock in Empire at 4:30 a.m. and boarded our charter fishing boat.  The first thing the captain said was that there were wind warnings for the day--35-45 mph winds with thunder storms later.  That was mistake #3.  I  should have predicted what was to happen, but I had already forgotten about the Keystone Light and running of gas.  Now I was about to experience how rough the sea can be. 

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While You Wait for Boating Season...

Well, December is over, and 2012 has begun.  I hope everyone had a great holiday season and a Happy New Year.  Now that is is all over, it's like hitting a wall.  All the "pomp and circumstance" and then boom, it's gone.  January and February are generally cold, snowy, and cloudy in my part of the country.  Some people can't handle this combination; and, if they have enough money, even after Christmas expenses, they go south to wait out the winter.  Unfortunately, I cannot do this.  Here are things I do to stay sane during these long bleak months.

  • Boat shows:  If you can't go boating, this is about as close to that as possible.  You can look at new boats and dream of spring.
  • Read BassTimes or other fishing magazines.  You can gather all the ways the pros catch fish and check out the new gear.
  • Go outside as much as the weather will allow.  I get "cabin fever" sitting and watching tv.  One thing I do every winter is get my firewood cut and split for the next year.  I cut my wood as green as possible and let it season for at least 9 months.  I have a gas wood splitter, but sometimes I use a splitting maul on the easy pieces for exercise.
  • Sharpen your tools and knives.  I got a new sharpener for Christmas and have already got a list of friends and relatives who want their knives sharpened.
  • Refinish furniture.  I enjoy redoing furniture as long as someone isn't standing looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do.
  • Auctions--we live in an area that has auctions going on all year long.  They have consignment and family auctions under roof so it is out of the weather. You don't need to buy anything--just look--and there is always somebody to talk to.

These are the things I enjoy which sure help me get through the winter months.  You can always do what the  experts say --exercise and push back from the table, but I would just as soon do it my way.  Have fun.

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Christmas 1968

Enough boating stories for this year.  It's December and time to turn our attention to the holidays.  This is the time of year to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for. 

I remember one year in particular--1968.  In 1968 I had just gotten married and was a student at the University of Missouri.  My new wife was working to help me through school.  We had one old car and lived in a  small apartment across town from the MU campus.  I walked home from class every night around 5:30.  It was dark and cold as I walked through downtown Columbia. This was before the shopping mall era, and downtown was the main shopping area.

The thing that I  remember and can still hear was the Christmas music pealing from the church bell tower.  I listened as I walked and really felt the spirit of Christmas.  We had very little money for Christmas gifts so I wasn't looking in the windows for presents or wondering about Black Friday.  I was overwhelmed by the sound of the Christmas music.

I look back now and try to pick out my favorite Christmas and figure out why it was the best.  And, I keep going back to the year 1968 and the sound of the Christmas music.  With all the hype that precedes Christmas now, I wonder if we take the time to really enjoy the holiday.  One thing I might suggest--take the time to enjoy your family and listen to the music.

Have a merry Christmas and happy holiday.

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My First Bass Masters Classic

I just sat down to read BassTimes Magazine.  The very first page is called "The Editor's View" by Dave Precht.  Dave talks about B.A.S.S. moving their headquarters from Celebration, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama.  This got me to thinking about the town of Birmingham and my very first Bass Masters Classic.....

The year was 1996.  I was invited to attend the Classic and promote my new invention,the AKUA Bass boat fender.  I had never even heard of the Bass Masters Classic.  Mickey Wood of Ranger Boats described it as equivalent to the Masters Golf Tournament for professional fishermen.  I was both honored and excited about attending the Classic with Ranger.

When I arrived in Birmingham I was taken away at the excitement that surrounds the Classic.  When I entered the vendor area, I was totally surprised at how many boat companies, fishing lure manufacturers,  and fishing accessory stores were represented. But, as excited as I was, the best was yet to come.

When the main program started on the first afternoon, I couldn't help but get goose bumps.  The auditorium was totally electric.  People from every walk of life were going ballistic.  Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., was  the emcee, and Ray has a way of getting people excited.  Dewey, Ray's side-kick, was the official in charge of the weigh-in.  The program centered around Americana. It was well done and very patriotic. 

The weigh-in was even more dramatic.  Each fisherman, in their fishing boat pulled by a Chevy truck, went around the arena before stopping in front of the stage.  With the crowd cheering, the fisherman would pull out their catch of the day one fish at a time and put the fish on the scale. Dewey and Ray were at their best with jokes, comments, and fishing insights.  What a great memory!  I have never enjoyed anything more in my life.

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Boat Drain Plugs

I have a 16-year-old nephew who, along with two of his buddies, bought an old fishing boat.  They are so excited about their purchase and can't wait to paint it camo and go duck hunting.  That dream almost came to an end when they took the boat out for the first time.  Water filled the back end and the boys quickly realized that they had forgotten a most important item...the drain plug.  Well, all ended well...the plug was put in just in time, and they're on schedule to paint this weekend

But, that got me to thinking about things that have happened to my friends and me over my boating years.  And one thing that keeps coming up are stories about the boat's drain plug.  Probably there are more funny and not-so-funny stories about the boat's drain plug than any other important boating fixture.  Most boaters have had something happen that is funny or, in some cases, expensive concerning a boat drain plug. 

I remember having a little aluminum fishing boat.  It had rained, and I needed to pull the drain plug.  Without thinking I reached down in about six inches of water.  Then I realized I had not taken my watch off--the watch that was given to me by my wife for our anniversary.   Back in those days wrist watches were not water-proof.  I realized immediately that I had screwed up.  I hoped the watch would be ok--wrong--it quit in less than a week.  That was not-so funny. 

A funny story happened to a friend of mine.  Ben had invited my wife and me to spend Memorial weekend at Lake Perry.  Ben had worked all winter restoring a boat that had sunk--not his doing.  He literally took the boat apart.  He rebuilt the motor, replaced the carpet and upholstery. He was so proud of the work he had done.  After showing us all what he had done, we hooked the boat on and trailered it to the boat ramp.  Ben got behind the wheel and gave me instructions on how to  crank it off of the trailer.  He turned the key, and the motor started right up.  You could see on his face how proud he was of what he had accomplished.  Then, all of a sudden, that look turned to panic.  The stern of the boat was filling with water--and fast.  Luckily his wife and mine were totally involved in their own conversation and had not driven off the ramp.   He made a desperate lunge toward the trailer with a wide open throttle.  He made it, and relief flooded his face. I didn't know what was going on--then I realized-- he had left the plug out.  Luckily, a good ending to a precarious predicament.

In boating, it's the little things that can make a huge difference. A drain plug is less than 3 inches long, but what an important 3 inches.  I hope all of your drain plug stories are retold with a smile and that your watch keeps ticking. 

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