Sometimes All You Can Do is Laugh

Sometimes All You Can Do is Laugh
Sometimes all you can do is throw your hands up and laugh.

From my perch on the poling platform I often have plenty of time to think while I push my little boat around the marsh. The standard stuff that goes through every fisherman's mind usually dominates my thoughts. "Where are the fish?" "Should I change locations?" "Is this the right bait?" Nothing out of the ordinary, just everyday fishing thoughts that happen to come to mind.

Plenty of those moments routinely get interrupted by my fishing partner for that day and I snap back to reality. During one of my recent "brainstorming" moments I watched a client just absolutely beat himself up for not remembering to bring a particular piece of gear. The whole episode spawned a conversation between the two of us about our own misfortunes or "Murphy Moments" connected to fishing. Much to the delight of my client for the day I had plenty to share.

I don't care who you are or how experienced you are. If you have ever owned a boat you have likely forgotten your keys or lost them on the way to the launch at least once in your career. Many folks don't consider how easy it is to have your keys blow out while trailering to the launch, if you leave them in the ignition.

I learned that lesson the hard way. Nothing makes you feel more foolish than committing a blunder like that in front of clients, trust me. Luckily, I was only five minutes from my house and was able to retrieve my spare set within minutes. So, it was basically a no harm-no foul event.

I have however seen the really bad version unfold on an extended road trip 100 miles from home. The feeling of excitement one gets from the opportunity to fish a new body of water is quickly erased once everyone realizes there is no way to start the boat and no place to get a new key. Buzz kill does not begin to describe that ride home.

Speaking of forgetting things I have had clients forget all sorts of gear. I've had them show up with no rods. I've had them show up with no reels. More than a couple of occasions they have also shown up without various pieces of wading gear up to and including waders, jackets, and most often boots. I can often accommodate folks because I keep several spare sets but it just doesn't work out when you try to put someone who is 6-foot 3-inches in waders made for those of us who are somewhat vertically challenged.

As far as waders go I have had my own difficulties as of late and I have no one to blame but myself. On a recent duck hunt I picked up a pair of my Gulf Coast breathable waders that I wear for both fishing and hunting this time of year and stuffed them in my wader bag for a hunt the following day. In the dark I reached in the wader bag and pulled out my boots first and then grabbed my waders, or so I thought. I unrolled them only to discover that they had no neoprene booties attached! When I retired them from wading duty I had removed the booties to be used as raingear or while training dogs at the pond. There was nothing I could do but take my medicine, wear them, and make the best out of it.

Needless to say, my hunting partners were extremely amused at my misfortune and all I could do was laugh with them. Fortunately for me it was not very cold and I managed to make do. From that point on I have made it a habit to double check my gear. Lesson learned.

Another laughable moment that comes to mind happened at a gas station. A good friend, for whatever reason, accidentally put the gas nozzle in a rod holder on his center console and proceeded to fill up his boat. Yep, you guessed it, an eye-opening moment when the bilge pump kicked on and started pumping gas out the side of the boat. Because of the angle the boat was sitting while the gasoline was pumped in, fully 30 gallons had accumulated in the hull before the bilge pump was triggered and the mistake discovered.

Having 30 gallons of gasoline in the hull was bad enough, but the big "Oh Shit" moment came when we realized the bilge pump turning on could have produced an electrical spark and caused a massive explosion. Fortunately, nothing sparked and my friend was able to drain the gasoline with no damage. We still scratch our head and laugh at that one.

With this being the holiday season, I guess we could laugh at one more example that involves "giving." On a weekend trip to Matagorda Bay I had taken all the precautions necessary for the trip, trailer lights were in order, wheel bearings were greased, spare tire along with a good jack were packed, and it was all strapped down and road ready. Or so I thought. We made the drive with no stops until we hit Matagorda and stopped to put gas in the boat and grab a few snacks.

As I walked around the boat something didn't seem right but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Finally, it hit me and all I could do was stand there and stare at the spot where my 21-foot Stiffy push pole was supposed be. Yes, somewhere along the way I had lost my push pole and some lucky individual had gotten a very nice Christmas present. I was sick about the whole deal but there was nothing I could do except put an ice bag on my feelings and go on about my business. You can rest assured I never leave my driveway without my new push pole being properly secured.

Now there are plenty of other crazy things that have happened to me while on the water or at least on the way to it, and I am sure there will be more. Each one has taught me a lesson and provided some sort of entertainment for those involved, even if belated. It's easy to look back and laugh at all the mishaps because they trigger some great memories. It's always been said, "If you can't laugh at yourself then you may be wound too tight."

I have no problem laughing at myself and I hope that some of my episodes will help keep you from your own mishaps.