When your boat leaves you

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 10/26/22

When you can provide someone with a good laugh and it lasts all day, you have really accomplished something. And here is how I did it.

Dennis Whitesides, an old friend who I have fished and …

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When your boat leaves you


When you can provide someone with a good laugh and it lasts all day, you have really accomplished something. And here is how I did it.

Dennis Whitesides, an old friend who I have fished and hunted with since college days, showed up at my place with nothing to do, and so we went fishing. And we were really into the fish, catching them right and left up against a little rocky bluff, when I cast too far and got my lure up on the bank.

It doesn’t sound like something a grizzled old veteran outdoorsman like me would do, but I think I was distracted by something and there was my lure, about halfway up that rock embankment jutting out in deep water, stuck tight. So I went to get it, and when I came in close, I tried to pull my trolling motor up so it wouldn’t bang into the rock ledge. Somehow it got lodged in a crevice when it was halfway up, with the prop and motor at the base of the shaft really wedged tightly, in danger of being bent or broken.

I stepped out on the little rock outcropping, which was about three feet above the water, and started trying to unwedge the motor, and when I did the absence of my weight caused the bow of my boat to come up rapidly, wedging the motor even worser then it was when I first done it.

So I stepped over onto the bow of the boat with one foot, shifting my weight to push the boat down, leaving the other foot on the rock ledge. Now if you can recreate the whole thing in your mind, I have one foot on the boat, one on the bank, and I am straining hard to pull that motor out of the crevice with one hand, holding the rod in the other. All of a sudden, the motor came out.

So there I am, still clutching my rod, and unable to grab anything, with my weight pushing the boat away, and not nearly enough of my body over the rock ledge to jump out on it. Quickly there became a widening gap about three feet below me, filled with very cool lake water.

There comes a time, when you are in such a situation, in which you realize that you are incapable of standing on either of the two places where you have one of each of your feet. The boat goes away because your foot is pushing it out into the lake, and you have only a few seconds to say “Oh no!” Actually, I said something else, but some language is best left on the river.

You know at such a time, that you should enjoy the warm dry condition of your present existence, because you are about to lose it. And you just sort of fling your fishing rod toward the rock ledge and flop into the water below you, hoping you haven’t forgotten how to swim since August.

Fall water is warmer than winter water I suppose, but not so much that you can tell it when you get in it all at once. It leaves you sort of gasping for a good breath, unable to speak. Dennis says he could tell I was trying to say something while I grasped the side of the boat, still drifting out into the lake. I don’t know what it was, but I wasn’t attempting so much to communicate anything of importance as I was commenting on the seriousness of the situation, because at my age I lack the ability to just hop over the high, steep and slanting side of that boat.

There is nothing you hate worse than being wet and cold, floundering around in a good hole where you had been catching lots of fish. You just want to get out, and so I turned and swam to the rock ledge jutting out over the water, and Dennis said I looked a little bit like a really big turtle trying to crawl up on dry ground.

The air was warm that day, thank goodness, and it was windy, so I got carefully back in the boat and we just kept fishing and I dried out in a short time, continuing to catch bass one right after the other. They did not seem to associate the big splash seen and heard minutes before with any danger. My fishing partner had a harder time catching fish than I did because every now and then he would stop and bend over and laugh really hard for a while. Then when he recovered, he’d get in several good casts before breaking down again.

But I remember writing a column once, talking about how I am a reckless, devil-may-care, risk-taking, sort of outdoorsman who seeks out adventure. I may have exaggerated that a little. Actually, I’d just as soon catch fish than find any more similar adventure.

And remember this one thing… don’t ever have only one foot in your boat and the other foot somewhere else. When you get out of a boat, take both feet out at once in sort of a hop or jump. One of these days I will write a little bit about safety on the water, when I learn a little more about it.