OK, I felt like making you feel better this week! Yeah, once again I’m going to share some of my worst faux pas, Vol. 2. Guess I’m feeling brave this week. Here goes!
So I’m planning to take off in the dark to get to a special spot and do some early fishing. Launching, I head out, but something doesn’t feel right. Oh well. The twilight is just peaking out so I throttle up some. I’m reaching plane when I feel like I’ve hit a rock. I’m almost thrown right through the windshield, while the back end of the boat rears up out of the water. Shaken, I wonder how there could be a rock out here?
When I finally found the bow rope wrapped soundly around the prop I realized I had forgotten to pull it in after launching and it had been trailing along under the boat, all the time I was idling out up the lake in the dark. Boy, it sure stopped the boat fast! Thankfully I hadn’t gotten up to full speed or I would have had a windshield for breakfast and possibly gotten thrown out of the boat. Close call.
I was new to downrigging and we were at San Luis up by the dam, where all the rocks are! My buddy was running the boat and I was managing the riggers as we moved in closer to the dam wall looking for fish. Suddenly distracted by a nearby boat, I took my eyes off the sonar and didn’t look back for about 30 seconds. Coming back to the present, I quickly looked at the sonar and realized we had suddenly come up 30 feet on a steep island. I tried to hit the up button to bring the 12-pound balls up when it hit me that the 24-inch metal downrigger arm was slowly being pulled down farther and farther under the boat. It took a second, but I finally realized that my ball was hooked in the rocks and the clutch was stuck!
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Dumbfounded, I panicked and tried to bring it up anyway; I was a novice. Moving slightly to the side for some reason, the 200-pound test wire cable suddenly exploded as it broke, and the long metal arm – now loaded up like a catapult after being pulled down near the waters’ surface – came flying back up at me like a scythe with incredible force and speed! My little move to the side had saved me and the flying metal arm had just missed my head by inches! It could have been very bad and I was shaken. Yes, I learned to set the clutch correctly after that, and now I only use plastic ball holders that will release the ball if I get stuck again.
In every sport there is a learning curve that you go through, but sometimes just getting through that period in one piece is a miracle. No, I didn’t tell you about the time I took off at 50 mph and forgot to bring up one of my downrigger balls still 80 feet down. Thankfully, the clutch worked correctly and the screaming noise that haunted me finally got my attention. Yeah, miraculously I got the whole rig and ball back; it had played out over 300 feet of braid downrigger cable. Couldn’t believe it. The dumb stuff you do when you’re really tired!
Could it be that the practical learning curve is really a course in applied stupidity that you hopefully survive and adjust to, before it gets you the next time? After carefully considering it, I believe that delayed intelligence may just turn out to be one of my biggest assets. Never give up!