Last updated 5/11/2021 at 9:26pm
For some unknown reason society has always been interested in and amused by the misfortunes of others. Television has had countless shows dedicated to "bloopers" and other gaffes made by everyday people doing everyday things and the masses tune in weekly to get another dose of these antics. I'd be willing to bet you most fishermen you know are at least familiar with the Bill Dance blooper videos, a compilation of outtakes and blunders that fishermen can certainly relate to and laugh at as well. I can remember walking through a Bass Pro Shop and turning a corner to see the display for Dance's blooper video for sale. There was a TV playing highlights of the video and I stood there for a moment by myself watching only to look around 5 minutes later to see a crowd had gathered around and almost everyone was laughing or at least relating to many of the events on the screen. Fast forward to today's ultra high tech world of instant social media gratification and you can take the Bill Dance example and multiply by millions. Funny videos that get posted to places like YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram go viral almost instantly and the entire electronic world rejoices. The "old school" blooper is now more commonly referred to as an "epic fail". The thought of these unfortunate mishaps being shared with the world got me thinking about some of my own "epic fails" and all I could I do was look back and laugh.
I don't know a fisherman who has not had a mishap at the boat launch or at least seen their share of mishaps at the launch. A Saturday afternoon at a busy launch can provide some cheap entertainment. I've seen some funny stuff that made me laugh and cringe all at the same time. One morning after a duck hunt on a cold December morning I watched a pair of hunters prepare to load their boat on the trailer like they'd done a million times, or at least that's what I thought. It became very apparent one of the hunters had minimal experience as he was being coached along at every step of the loading process. All appeared to going well until it was time to winch the boat onto the trailer. This particular ramp was a little steep and that means added stress on the strap and winch itself so you can almost see what was in store. After attaching the strap to the boat and beginning to turn the winch handle for some reason the novice let go of the handle and paid dearly for it. Apparently the lock mechanism that keeps the winch from unwinding had not been engaged and now the tension on the winch was released allowing the handle to spin backwards violently and to just absolutely beat the hell out of this guys knuckles about a half dozen times before he knew what happened. At this point I am now cringing because I know it hurts some kind of bad but I can't help laughing either. Difficult lesson learned for sure.
Another less painful example that comes to mind involves a good friend of mine who was night fishing by himself. It seems my friend had purchased a high dollar flashlight of which he was both very proud and fond of. The light was a magnificent piece of machinery and the brightest thing you'd ever seen this side of the sun. During the night my friend felt that feeling we all know, you know the one you get when nature calls and it cannot be put on hold. Yep, that's the one. Well my friend decided to answer the call and in the process of that he dropped his shiny new light on the deck of the boat where it promptly turned itself on, bounced twice and went overboard. All the while this is happening my half clothed friend is in the process of "answering the call" and can do absolutely nothing but watch as the brilliant beam of light disappears into the depths. At that point there is nothing you can do but laugh.4
I personally have had my share of these moments as well. I've done the simple ones like being so excited to go fish a new area that after making a 30 minute boat ride to the spot I realized I left my tackle bag in the truck. I've launched my boat and not had it secured to the trailer and watched it float out into the bay while I had to swim after it. There was the time I fished with clients using their boat and buried it in the marsh when I took a wrong turn and spent 2 hours pulling it out to water deep enough to float. There were a couple of times I got hit in the back of the head by clients casting jigs at schooling fish where I nearly blacked out. The list goes on and on as do the lessons learned.
Most folks who fish can relate to some of these examples, some will admit their mistakes while others will tend to be a little more secretive or private about theirs. I think by sharing your failures as well as your success stories enables you to learn more about whatever your interests are because others around you will certainly have common experiences that may provide solutions. It would be a shame to continue to struggle with a particular problem, technique, or area when the solution was right there to be had if only you had shared your experience with others be it good or bad.
The information pipeline that we all love to hate and hate to love is a powerful thing. Social media in all it's glory can share both positive and negative images so fast to so many that it will literally astonish you. Use the technology wisely and enjoy it but be smart. I've seen plenty of cases where some folks were so anxious to electronically post what they did that they neglected to realize they had actual broken a law. Make no mistake about it, game wardens and other law enforcement agencies use social media to build cases and gather evidence. If you don't think getting a ticket or getting in trouble with the law over something you did to yourself like posting photos or videos for the world to see is just plain stupid then all I can say is just wait til the ticket comes and then we'll talk about it.