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Fishing Hangovers – Gremlins in the Box

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Sometimes hard days on the water make you question why you fish


My foot is really sore and so is my forearm. As I sit up in bed I notice my foot has a cut between my big toe and the next toe that looks swollen and red, almost infected looking. My forearm has a bruise the size of a tangelo on it. My back is sore and one of my kidneys hurts.

Who did I fight yesterday? Did I drink last night? I haven’t felt this bad since my college days. I can’t quite recall how I got so banged up, so I started going back through my day yesterday.

I got up, took the kid to school, walked 2 miles and then sat down and wrote for a while. I added some content to the website; then I hit the lake.

Oh. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I forgot about the gremlins in my rod locker yesterday that wreaked havoc on me on the water yesterday. If you spend much time on the water, you’ve had those days where so many amazing things happen at once that you get to the point of giddy laughter to keep from having one of those episodes that sends you to therapy.

Yesterday was that day.

I launched the boat around 9:30 a.m. Well make that my failed launch started at 9:30 a.m. I don’t think the boat actually slid off my Ranger Trail trailer until about 9:45. I was so jacked to go fishing on an unseasonably warm day on Kentucky Lake, I was literally jogging around the boat.

Front strap. Check.

Back strap. Check.

Motor totor. Check.

Drain plug screwed in. Check.

Lowrance HDS units on the Ram Mounts. Check.

So I hopped back in the truck and backed it down a very flooded ramp. The boat slid a little and I saw the nose pop up and off the roller but the boat didn’t move. Really? I jumped back out and the boat was completely off the front of the trailer but not the back. In my haste, I left one strap on the back. I tried like crazy to no avail to get the nose up and over the front roller for fear of damaging my trailer or boat if I pull it back out. So I finally just say heck with it and pull it back out and unlatch the strap and try it again.

It’s windy. Real windy.

I tied up to the metal dock and run back up to the truck and park it. But before I got there, I noticed there was about 5 feet of water across the walkway back to the parking lot. That’s right; two wet tennis shoes and pant legs to start the morning.

I get back to the boat, and it was banging my gel coat against metal on the dock. The bump boards are not enough to keep the boat off the metal. Every crunch makes me clinch a little tighter.

I run to a spot close by that I want to fish because of the wind on it. I pull all my rods out and hop up on the deck to start casting. Something has hold of my foot. I look down to see a Rapala Cranking Rap dug into the top of my $90 New Balance shoe. It’s dug in so bad while still hung on the rod, I have to take my shoe off to even work on it. I can’t get the treble free and have to cut my like-new shoe. Nice. I haven’t made a cast yet, and I’m debating just putting it back on the trailer already.

I fish for about 15 minutes and don’t like the debris in the water or the overall looks of the spot in these conditions. Not to mention even when I do get my bait to land where I want in a 25 mph wind, my line is all over the place. So I make a run.

I get to the next spot and grab a Diet Coke out of the cooler. Spin the lid off to take a quick slurp before making my first cast. For those that don’t know, you can take a Mentos and throw it in a Coke and it will spew like a volcano. I swear a Leprechaun put one in my coke. The liquid shot out of there like water out of a fire hose. It went straight into my eye covering my head, hair and shirt in a brown molten mess.

No way that just happened and no one was here to video tape it. Even I wanted to see a replay of that on YouTube.

I splash lake water over my face and head. So now I’m soaking wet for the most part in a 20-30 mph wind. But I’m determined to power through it. I fish hard for an hour or so with very little luck, one bass about 2 pounds. I have to clean a leaf, pine needle, moss or something else off my lure just about every cast. Occasionally, I hooked something more significant like a log, branch or bush.

After snapping off my fourth jig, something that rarely happens to me, I decided I’m going to hit one more area. I make a run about 4 miles down the lake. As I crossed a large bay, 3- and 4-footers were hitting the side of the boat and spraying water on me. About that time, I heard something strange out of my motor. As I turn to look back, the motor came completely out of the water.

I immediate shut down, trying to figure out what was going on. Bobbing in 3 and 4 footers, I noticed my front HDS unit was flush down on my trim switch. The big waves and loose Ram mount pinned my trim down. I figure at that point, it was time to call it a day, fearful of what else might lay ahead for me.

I get the boat on the trailer, wet shoes once again, a little more banging on the gel coat. As I strapped the boat back down on the trailer, I chuckled to myself. It doesn’t matter if you run the nicest boat, nicest electronics, nicest rods and reels, when the moon is full and the gremlins are loose, it’s not your day, no matter how much you want it to be.

My buddy Terry Bolton called me this morning, having fished on Kentucky Lake on his way to Hartwell yesterday and having a similar experience made me feel a little better.

“My first flip with a jig in a bush, and I was over a small branch,†Bolton said, while chuckling about his day. “I pulled it up to the branch and it rotated and locked on. My very first pitch of the year, and I was hung. Well isn’t that nice.

“About one out of four casts, my spinnerbait landed where I actually aimed it in that 90-mph wind,†Bolton said. “But it didn’t matter because my line was over so much debris and branches that it was more like fishing a buzzbait than a spinnerbait. My spinnerbait was out of the water more than it was in it. And then when I did hit the water clean, a big oak leaf would wrap my spinnerbait up like a tortilla.â€

I’m a God-fearing man. I believe in Karma and divine signals from the universe. I tend to think in hindsight, when that boat strap didn’t let my boat come off the trailer, the higher power was looking out for me and advising me to take another afternoon off. Some days you get fish and some days the fish get you.

Have you ever had a crazy day like that on the water?