Better Water Safety for 2019

So the day has come when I no longer look forward to my birthday. That old guy carrying the scythe has taken all the fun out of it. Seems he may have also stolen most of my super-human powers. You know; bulletproof, invisible, unsinkable, tireless. Yeah, I had all of them.

Funny how the realization of such loss registers in your brain. Bulletproof and invisible leaked away so slowly that I kind of became accustomed to not having them. Tireless was replaced with afternoon naps, which I always enjoyed anyway. Unsinkable, though, that one hit like a ton of bricks.

We were wading Mesquite Bay where Hurricane Harvey got up to some particular mischief. There are a series of guts, well they used to be guts, that run up into the Brundrett Lake region. Unbeknownst to me, Ol’ Harv turned them into pretty serious sloughs.

It was windy and the water was murky. I was wading toward one of the familiar green stripes that exit the marsh. A nice red intercepted my Skitter Walk – totally normal. What followed was very unexpected. My next step carried me into a watery abyss.

The clay bank was so steep that my best effort to backpeddle turned into a backstroke and my hat floated away.

Finally regaining my footing in shallower water, I skirted the slough to grab my hat. I was lucky. Wringing the water from my hat was easy but the sudden realization that I was no longer unsinkable was just horrible.

Joe Richard and I are the same age. Seems Joe has better sense than to tempt fate the way I did. Joe appears on this month’s cover holding a beautiful Spanish mackerel, and wisely, is wearing an inflatable PFD.

I never seriously considered wearing an inflatable while wade fishing, I always had enough sense to avoid known drop-offs, or so I thought. The incident in Mesquite last May drilled it into my brain!

Situations come to mind, not the least of which are three drowning incidents in my home waters last year. Three fishermen attempted to swim after a drifting boat.

Somehow we’ve been tricked into placing too much trust in getting out to wade, leaving the boat anchored on only the Power Pole. Now the Power Pole is a wonderful device. It will stop a boat in a wink when you drift into a school of fish, and it will hold a boat in a veritable gale when deployed sufficiently into soft bottom. Solid oyster shell – not so much. All three sad drownings occurred when the Power Pole failed to hold the boat on a reef.

So, to start this New Year, let’s all resolve to adopt better habits. Wear the inflatable PFD. There’s no good excuse not to. It’s comfortable and the auto-inflate models will save your life even if you’re unconscious. As for the exiting the boat to wade, slip that old-fashioned Danforth anchor over the side AND stick the Power Pole!

Happy New Year!