Fishermen and women in general, and bass fishermen in particular, are a great group of people. I don’t know if it’s just that we have so much in common with one another or if it’s just that we’ve all had problems on the water at one time or another. But is seems that when you do break down, there’s always someone willing to help out.
The first time I ever had a breakdown on the water had to be in the late 80s. I was running a 16.5 foot Cajun at the time and was fishing on Lake Okeechobee. The boat was great but it only had a 16 gallon tank for on this particular day, I cut it close (actually more than a little close) and ran out of fuel about 10 miles away from the landing. This was well before BoatUS Angler and their towing package, so I really had no idea what I was going to do.
Fortunately for me, the first boat to come by stopped and asked if they could help. With a great deal of embarrassment, I told them what I’d done and asked if they could tow us in. I was expecting, at the very least, a little gentle abuse about my stupidity, but the gentleman just chuckled and offered to transfer some fuel to my boat. We pumped a couple of gallons into the tank and he even followed me to the landing to make sure we got in. When I offered to pay, he just told me to help out the next guy with a problem down the line.
My latest breakdown came last week at the BASS Open at Lake Toho. I’d gotten back to the room really late the night before the tournament and evidently didn’t get the batteries fully charged back up. After most of day of fishing, running the electronics, livewells and Power Poles, my start battery was so dead that I couldn’t start the engine. I hooked it to one of the trolling motor batteries and got it to the next fishing stop but when we got ready to go in from there, it wouldn’t start off of any of the 4 batteries on board.
My partner and I looked around and there was only one boat in site. Fortunately for us, he saw us waving and without any thought to his lost fishing time, came over to help. After just a couple of minutes, I was running and ready to head back in. This gentleman’s name was Sam Phillips and it turns out that he owns Morristown Marine in Morristown, TN. He seemed to be a great guy and if he treats his customers anywhere nearly as well has he treats a fellow competitor and complete stranger, he probably does a pretty good business at his store.
It’s always amazed me that we can be such cut-throat competitors, but as soon as one of us needs something, there are guys lined up to help. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stopped by and towed someone in, lent them a missing tool or even transferred some gas to them. I’ll always remember that first guy who helped me out and I’ve never accepted a dime from anyone I’ve ever helped. That’s just the way most fishermen are and it’s yet another reason I love our sport.
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Denali Rods, Bryan’s Marine, BoatUS Angler, Power Pole, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.