Chad Battles is having a string of fishing misfortune
Chad Battles doesn’t have a Sea Tow membership, but after the week he’s had, he’s vowed to change that.
The avid Southeast Louisiana angler was prefishing the Venice area about a week ago when he thought he hit something, but couldn’t find any damage to his prop or lower unit. He soldiered on, and completed two days of scouting in the area.
The next day, he was just beginning a hunt for big redfish near Myrtle Grove when the damage from whatever he hit in Venice fully manifested.
“Right as I was going down the canal before I got to the camps, the lower unit gave out,” Battles said. “I fished it out, found some good fish and then I got a tow in.”
But his bad day got worse. Battles had to use the trolling motor to put the boat back on the trailer, and as he was pulling the electric motor back up, the shaft got caught on the trailer and snapped in two.
That stretch of bad luck might have persuaded lesser anglers to take a few days off, but Battles was undaunted. He got the lower unit repaired and trolling-motor shaft replaced, and made his way down toward Venice Sunday to locate some fish close to Venice Marina, headquarters of this weekend’s Tito’s tournament.
On Highway 23, Battles got an ominous warning from the fish gods about how the day would unfold.
“I should have known when I was going down to Venice it was going to be one of those days,” he said. “I’m going down the road, and an ambulance comes on side of me bomping his horn and turns on his lights. He’s like, ‘Hey man, your PowerPole is dragging.’ The pump had a leaky seal and bled out, and it went down.”
The friction devoured a foot of the PowerPole spike, Battles said.
“I tied it up and shook it off — or so I thought,” he said.
Despite the warning sign, Battles made his way down to the river-stained waters around Venice, hoping to find anything worth targeting for the tournament. But, of course, he wouldn’t get to fish as long as he’d planned.
“I was running around looking for clean water, but it was dirty where I was at,” he said. “Everything was brown. Next thing you know, that boat stopped.”
Sandbars are everywhere around Venice, and Battles had found a solid one.
“I tried to push it out, I tried to use the trolling motor to get it out, I tried to use the big motor to get it out,” he said. “Finally, it seemed like she was about to jump up and get out, and I heard a snap. The shaft broke, and the propeller hit the cavitation plate.
“She was dead in the water after that.”
Battles called a buddy, Shannon Thomas, who he knew would be fishing the area the same day.
“Whenever I go to Venice, I try to always make sure I’ve got a little safety blanket, a friend or two who will be fishing down there,” he said. “I know how it is. Bad things can happen down there.”
Thomas came to the area where Battles was stranded, but couldn’t get within rope-throwing distance. So Battles did the only thing he could: He got out the boat, and walked on the packed sand toward Thomas’ Shearwater.
“He was like, ‘You know I have to take a picture of this, right?’ Battles recounted.
The stranded angler tied off to Thomas’ boat, and hoped the 225-horsepower Yamaha would have the muscle to slide his own boat off the bar.
“For as hard as it was for us to try to push it off, his boat pulled it right on out,” Battles said.
After a slow tow in, Battles trailered his boat to Metro Boating, and got assurances it would be ready in time for the Tito’s tournament.
And he’s hoping and praying nothing else goes wrong.
“At this point, I feel like Wreck-It Ralph,” he said. “Everything I touch turns to broke.”