Ah, spring, and a young man’s fancy turns to — what else? — fishing!
Thought it was gonna be “love” didn’t you!
And when it comes to fishing, a young man’s next fancy turns to buying a boat. It’s the next natural step, right?
Next come the headaches, the certain uneasiness with their significant other about the expense and the always inevitable question — What’s next?
For the experienced, the veteran boat-owning angler, these new entries into the world of fishing and boat ownership often present a problem at launches and on the water.
See, it goes like this: a guy goes fishing with a buddy maybe two or three times a year, or he’s been on a charter trip a couple of times in the last two summers.
He’s caught fish, brought them home and provided a wholesome fish dinner for his wife and family.
That’s great, but that’s about the time when he deep-into-his-soul believes he’s ready to own a boat and provide even more days of enjoyment on the water, and provide more of those wonderful meals.
Understand, too, the annual run between February and late April is the boat-buying season, a time when dealers across the country run specials so solid as to entice the no-boat guy into that first I-finally-have-a-boat venture.
The next step, after signing all those papers, hitching that new prize to the tow and finding out how how much gas and oil his new water chariot sucks from his paycheck, he’s ready. Or so he thinks.
He knows where he’s going. His first trip produces five fish.
And the second trip yields two barely-long-enough keepers.
Back home, the wife asks the inevitable question, “Where are all those fish you were supposed to catch in YOUR new boat?” Uh, oh.
His next trip is a little better. Six keepers barely enough for supper and the wife fixes on the next question, “How are you gonna fill that new freezer to hold all those fish you were gonna catch? Guess I better find chicken, pork chops and a couple of rump roasts to put in it just so those five fish don’t get lonely.”
The pressure is on. That’s what sets up on-the-water confrontation.
The newbie just can’t go home empty handed again. When he and his buddy have failed to produce on their first two stops, they see a guy anchored and the three guys a hundred yards away are hauling in speckled trout on darned near every cast — and, %d#*%!, it looks like they just released a couple of keepers.
So, the slow water creep begins, yard by yard, to a spot the rookies know will put them smack-dab on top of the mother lode the guys in the other boat are mining.
Then it happens, the shot across the bow. If you’ve done this long enough, you’ve had one of these guys cast a line over your in-the-water lines, and the ensuing tangle begins a war of words the likes of which would curdle milk, even make a sailor blush.
There have been times when, in cooler moments, one would tell an intruder to wait five minutes and they could have the spot. There have been times one would be offering these guys the same lures.
It happens in freshwater, too, mostly on sac-a-lait trips (crappie or white perch for non-South Louisiana folks) — on more than one occasion, and usually fishing well behind another boat, on a brushtop or other structure the boat ahead has passed up.
The guy couldn’t help notice one slab after another coming into the boat — shutting the ice chest lid was the giveaway — and within minutes the guy’s inching up to the same spot. Worse still, he washed the spot with his trolling motor. And the bite stopped! Not good.
Now that we’re coming up on the best fishing there is in most places in our country, novice fishermen need to understand there are enough resources to elevate their game and get them off the hot seat at home. The best advice: be patient.
Use the Internet. There are enough books on most any fishing subject and most every species they want to target. Time spent off the water with veteran fishermen is a big help. Most will share their knowledge. Get on a Facebook page dedicated to a particular angling group. Ask questions.
One reason you often don’t see real-time reports in newspapers and magazines these days is because the information is posted on websites and Facebook daily.
It’s also time to make sure your boat is ready and to make sure your equipment is ready when it becomes time to strike when the iron is hot.
Boats of various lengths have different equipment legal requirements. There’s always the need for serviceable life jackets and a throwable device on all boats. And please, make sure the occupants in your boat wear them when underway.
And, remember, you need a Safe Boating Course Certificate to operate a boat or personal watercraft with an engine larger than 10 horsepower in Louisiana.