How in the heck did any of us make it this far, especially after the close calls most of us have been through? In many cases, anglers have told me they avoided unseen disaster through intuition, a sixth sense, a feeling, sensing someone or something was looking out for them. I think most agree they have had times where the unusual and unexplainable was at work and saved them. How do you explain it?
I was about 15 and Dad and I had been fishing at Millerton by Finegold Creek in our 18-foot boat. We were coming back in just after dark, at about 15 mph (yeah, I know the current nighttime speed limit these days), when I suddenly felt like something was wrong. That’s when the engine sputtered and went dead about 100 yards from shore in weak moonlight.
Dad opened the engine cowling to see what was wrong. I took the flashlight and just like a kid decided to look down into the water next to the boat. Shining it down, it seemed all I could see was sand. Refocusing my eyes to the flashlight beam, I thought, “You know what? That has to be the bottom just about 10 inches below the surface. Naw.” Dad, meanwhile, had his head down looking at the inboard engine, so I said, “Hey, Dad, I think we’re in about a foot of water.” Dad just grunted, so I took the paddle and stuck it overboard where it went clunk on the bottom. He popped up and realized I was right. Yikes!
Looking around, there were big rocks just under the water a few feet farther. If we had hit them, they would have thrown us out, or worse. In a cold sweat, we wondered why the engine had suddenly stopped, because it never did. We never found out why because it started back up, but we had stopped perfectly. Just lucky?
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About 20 years ago, I was fishing at Millerton by the dam on the east side when I heard a sound from the west side of the lake in the dead calm of midday. It sounded like a school of stripers thrashing around on top. Yanking out my binoculars, I could see a frenzied melee of linesides working a shad school. I put my boat into overdrive to get there as fast as I could.
Obviously my attention was on the fish, but as I reached about 40 mph, on the flat water, I had a funny feeling something wasn’t right. I can’t explain it, but somehow the water moved wrong even though there was nothing I would have normally noted. The feeling grew and I suddenly stopped the boat, even though the stripers were still about 200 yards ahead.
I shuddered when I spotted a 1-foot-high concrete abutment just an inch under the water ahead – positioned on an island top. Sitting far from shore in the windless conditions, it didn’t give off any of the usual signs a shallow object does. It was a perfect disaster waiting to happen. My “feeling” had saved me.
Another time, back in the ’80s, Dad and a friend went to Alaska to hunt sheep. My father told me they were flown in by float plane and dropped off, then hiked up a mountain several hours until dense fog and darkness set in. Lost, they stopped right where they were and pitched a camp on the spot, hoping it would clear in the morning. Waking up to clear skies, they were hit by the chilling realization they had narrowly escaped death. Just 30 yards from where they slept was a sheer 500-foot cliff. If they had gone any farther in the dark, they would have walked off. What stopped them right there?
Funny, the older I get, the less I believe in luck. How do you explain these things and many more? Guardian fishing angels? You never know. Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,