Thursday, August 6, 2015

An Hour Fishing

An Hour Fishing,
By Rob Watson

Back in June, I bought a fishing boat. Because of heavy Spring rains, most waters were closed to boats. This week, the week of my 69th birthday, I decided to take time off from my chores to try out the boat and update my fishing skills. My neighbor likes to fish, so I invited him to come along. After consulting the sun and moon fishing tables, we decided today, 5am, would be the optimal time to head out.

Yesterday, I began preparing and loading. I charged the boat battery, filled the gas tank and added an extra can of equal capacity. (prompted by experiences from an earlier time) I got out two fishing poles and updated the contents of my tackle box to cover most possibilities. Wife cleaned all the life jackets. I bought health food snack bars and loaded the refrigerator with bottles of water. I cranked the boat motor, ran it, and familiarized myself with the controls. I checked all the boat tie down straps and connected the trailer to the truck. Then I went to the store and got a new fishing license and a box of worms. Wife set the alarm for 4:30.

This morning, I woke up at 4:26, put the water, ice, and box of worms in a cooler and loaded all in the truck, with the life jackets. At precisely 5am I drove up to the neighbors house. We loaded his gear into the truck and were on the road by 5:15 and in the water by our scheduled time of 5:30.

Unknown to me, our troubles began when the boat hit the water. I had forgotten to put the drain plug in place. I also forgot to take the equipment from the truck and put it in the boat until I had parked the truck a good 50 yards away. While the boat was filling with water at one end, I was filling it with equipment at the other… all by the light of the half moon. The motor grounded on the bottom and prevented the boat from taking in more than the three inches of water it already had. After some troubles getting the boat ungrounded I discovered the open drain hole and plugged it.

When I tried to start the motor, it sputtered once then refused to start. With fishing time slipping by, we paddled about 50 yards out to some trees and began to prepare our lines. Neighbor went first and could not get his reel to work properly. One of his problems was his line had wrapped around his pole and tangled. I untangled that for him. He repeatedly tried casting while I got out my pole. On one of his casts his pole hit mine… I should have been watching… and created a tangle that took 10 minutes to undo.

I got my line in the water and was feeding worms to a small fish while Neighbor actually caught one. After several more minutes, we decided to move to another spot. The motor started on the first pull of the starter rope. However, no matter how fast I set the throttle, the boat would not move. I killed the motor and we paddled back to shore. By then, neighbor was feeling sick. I set him on a bucket, On shore, while I moved the truck and loaded the boat onto it’s trailer. It took several minutes for the water to drain from the boat. Neighbor put the one tiny fish back in the lake. We drove home by the light of the rising sun.

A related post may be read by clicking on "Boating with the Boss" in my list of posts... beside this near the top.

Boating with the Boss

By Rob Watson,

My recent attempt at going fishing brought to mind an experience from many years ago... 30 years, give or take.

One of the things I enjoy most is seeing what is around the next bend or over the next hill. As a child I just walked through the woods and down the creek bottom. As a teenager I went on my bicycle. After I built the Merry Bee, she was my mode of transport. When I could afford a ski boat I added lakes and rivers to my adventures. The following action took place just after my divorce.

During this time I worked for a big electronics company in the hill country and lake country of Texas. My group got a new boss, who was also single and new to the area. My close friend had just moved out of town, 150 miles away, so, I decided to try to cultivate my new boss as a friend. To that end, I invited him to come boating with me on one of the chain of lakes in the area. Other than the spectacular scenery, another attraction, for this lake, for a couple of single guys, were a number of nude beaches... but that is another story.

My boat had two gas tanks of equal volume. My practice was to shut off one tank and run on one until it was empty, then switch to the other. That way I knew when it was time to start back the way I had come. On this particular day we launched the boat and filled the tanks at the first marina. We dawdled at a couple of beaches then proceeded to cruise up the lake toward the dam of the lake above. After a time we left the lake proper and got into the river above it. Then the river began to narrow. We cruised past the last marina and kept on going.

After sightseeing for a few miles, the engine died. A sign the first tank was empty. I went to switch tanks. The problem was the fuel valve to the second tank was open, as was the valve to the first tank. Both tanks were empty, completely empty. Here begins one of the strangest conversations of my life.

I say to my boss, "We are out of gas."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

I say to my boss, "We are OUT of gas."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

I say to my boss, "We are OUT OF GAS."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

So, I point to the first gas tank, saying, "See that gas tank? It is empty." then I point to the second gas tank, "See that gas tank? It is empty." Then I repeat, "We are out of gas!"

His reply, "You mean we are out of gas?" "Yes," says I, "We are out of gas."

And it was so. Out of gas, miles from the nearest marina, in a big heavy boat, with one small paddle. I began to consider a way out of our predicament. We had passed a small landing area a few hundred yards back. I had seen a truck and boat trailer there. A truck ment a road. A road would lead to a bigger road. I could then hitch a ride to a gas station and get a can and get gas. The boss could relax in the boat and watch it. There was plenty of food and drink.

As we paddled back toward the landing, I saw a small fishing boat headed our way. In the back of his boat I could see a one gallon gas can. I asked if it was full, and offered him $5 for the gas... This was back when gas was less than a dollar a gallon. He said he would take one dollar. We made the exchange... My boat got 3 miles to the gallon and we were 5 or 6 miles from the marina.

I started the motor and set the speed just above Idle, hoping fuel economy from the slower speed would get us back. As we puttered back down the river, visions of my youth and days on the lake back home came to mind. Back then, anyone with a big yard always had a can of gas for mowing their property. I told the boss to look for mowed property beside the river, they would have gas. Eventually, we came upon a large mowed lot with a house on it. I landed the boat and hiked up to the house. The owner was there. He sold me the gas from his full 5 gallon can for $5.

My boss spent the rest of his tenure with our group proclaiming my extraordinary problem solving abilities. To which I always silently replied, "Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then."