Talking to another old salt the other day about the many trips we’ve experienced, both good and bad, it occurred to me that it took a lot of crazy, stupid mistakes to finally get ”smart.” On second thought, I should actually say “smarter” because I continue to pull some new doozies at times. Here are a few of my best, but be assured I have more.
▪ I took my brother-in-law Doug striper fishing at Millerton upriver in some “iffy” weather. When the rolling dark clouds appeared over the top of the canyon walls, followed by a thunderclap, I knew we were stuck in the wrong place. In minutes, we were caught in an epic downpour while streaking lightning bolts hit all around us. I was sure we were toast as the onslaught went on for a half hour. We somehow made it back to the dock 10 miles away as bolts continued to hit all around us. He didn’t go fishing with me again for the next 10 years. The things I do for relatives!
▪ I was fishing in a canyon area by myself and decided that the upper river pools looked pretty good, but the path was blocked by a big boulder wall that jutted out into the river. Hmm … why not climb up the hill, go past the wall and continue fishing? I’m about 100 feet up the hill when I see a “shortcut.” It’s a sloped granite wall about 40 feet across and 60 feet high. OK! Halfway across I realized it was getting much more vertical than I realized – with no handholds. I was stuck on the now sheer wall, unable to go backward or forward. A decision whether to try to jump out as far as I could – if I started falling – to make it to the distant water below became a reality. Somehow I inched forward to a point where I grabbed a bush in a death grip. I don’t scale granite walls much anymore.
▪ I took a friend and his dad to go shad fishing in the river at Millerton about 20 years ago. After beaching the boat on the sand, we walked about a hundred yards to a cove. We’re fishing when I notice that the water has fallen a foot and it’s going down fast! I run for the boat to push off, but it’s already stuck! It’s more than a mile trek down the canyon to any houses and a phone. I ended up scrambling up the rattlesnake-infested canyon in near 100-degree weather to the nearest house, then had to return to get the guys and bring them out using the same route. The rangers rescued us near midnight. We used a fence puller the next day to crank the 18-foot boat off the sand and back into the water 20 feet away. If we hadn’t, the boat would have been there all season in the falling water. I watch water flows much closer these days.
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▪ My dad and I were rock fishing off Morro Bay in our boat and I was in the back when I landed a nice rockcod that I put on the motor cover to unhook. The fish began to slide off when I impulsively scooped the fish – with its fins fully extended – out of the air with my hand. The thousand hypodermic needles that pierced my palm left me screaming in pain. My hand swelled to twice its normal size, but my dad – the old farmer – said to tough it out. It took a day to recover. I don’t scoop fish anymore.
▪ I was fishing, right after I caught my record striper, and some guys I didn’t know were obviously watching how I cast plugs on my big pole. Funny, I loaded up for a massive cast when the top part of my pole blank went flying as far as the plug. Ouch. They laughed. I make shorter casts around strangers now. Some things you never forget.
I try and fail a lot … but I get back up. Oh, well! Never give up!