Brad Laabs: Even the best among us still make mistakes
I usually dedicate at least one article a year to sharing (or admitting) some of the “bonehead” experiences I accumulate with my fishing adventures. This will be that article. It will include some, but not all of my screw-ups, mistakes, and misadventures.
The reason it will not include all, is that there are so many for me. And I sometimes forget some that occurred. Anyone that fishes on a regular basis must admit to themselves that you have had some less than proud moments. I have to admit mine as they are witnessed by customers (and sometimes family or friends).
Early this year, it was late May or early June, I was fishing in a relentless downpour of rain. I have a Tupperware container to put cell phone, camera, etc. that can keep everything dry and secure. My laziness is overwhelming at times and instead of putting my cell phone in the container I slipped it into the pocket of my Gore-Tex coat. I didn’t realize until about four hours of relentless rain later that the flap of my pocket was pushed inside the pocket instead of folded over the pocket. My phone bathed in 3 inches of water the whole outing. No amount of defrost, rice, sun, or pan baking in the oven could save my phone from me! Those that know me well know that this is not the first phone that has suffered the consequences of my neglect. Oh, by the way, I have a new water proof, shock proof, dust proof phone!
A couple of seasons ago, I bought a check-valve to replace my boat plug. I love this plug. When the water gets low (like we had most of the summer and fall), I go back to my plug so I don’t get grit and sand in the check valve. I have reminder stickers on my transom saver to not forget the boat plug, and I am used to a regular routine before launching. Yes, you guessed it, I launched my boat without the plug in it……not once….not twice…..but, three times this season! At least two of the three were with customers I have had for many years. It doesn’t seem as embarrassing with them as forgetting in front of a new customer. I always have a good excuse, but no good reason for my distracted behavior. Cut me a little slack for being such a bonehead….I do launch my boat many, many times a season!
Nothing like a few stumbles and falls for the season. The most memorable was at the end of the trip. Dad and 17 year old daughter waiting on the dock at the end of our outing. I drive my boat on the trailer, climb over the bow and clip, climb back on the bow and tumbled onto the bow deck and rolled off the deck and onto the floor. When I went to step over my bow mount troller, my untied shoelace hooked the cradle. You couldn’t hook that shoelace in that notch again if you tried….but it happened. Dad’s first reaction was “are you OK”, his daughters reaction was laughing so hard she hoped she didn’t pee her pants! We all had a good laugh. I am so glad she did not have her smart phone handy at the time. I am sure the sight of an overweight mid-50 year old man doing a tumbling act on the bow of a boat would have gone viral.
This is not the first tumbling act on the bow of my boat I have performed over the years. I am sure it won’t be the last. I am not looking forward to the next.
Another stand out incident was stepping over the tongue of my boat while putting things in the back of my rig. I stepped about one inch short of clearance height and did a slow motion fall and roll to the ground. I have to admit I swore first before I started laughing.
One more to share….stepping from my boat to the fender and from the fender to the ground is something I do a million times without incident. It was the one millionth and one incident that got me. I am not sure exactly how I miss-stepped, but I ended up stumbling backward a step and sitting on my butt in the parking lot. My customers and one young lady doing AIS checks were able to appreciate my athleticism. A lesser athlete would have fallen much less graceful than me.
Only two cooler incidents this year. I left the cooler full of leeches/crawlers/drinks and snacks sitting on my deck. I didn’t remember I left it on the deck until we got to the lake and launched. Thank God it was a minnow bite that day!
The other was a messy incident involving my cooler. After sending the frozen water bottle in my cooler with my customers, drinking the water and pop that was in the cooler for the day, the cooler was left too light with just the leeches and crawlers in it to travel on the front bow deck 55 miles an hour down the highway. The cooler tumbled to the back of the boat and the leeches and crawlers were spread evenly all over the boat. Nice job Brad!
At least this year I didn’t need to swim or wade to retrieve my boat. I am fully aware however, that the open water season is not done for me and I always have room for another unique experience. It is all part of the fishing experience for me. Get out and enjoy your own experiences. It helps if you can laugh at yourself, because at some point you will have your own “bonehead” experience.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)