Don’t Get Off Your BoatDon’t Get Off Your Boat Bass fishing when you're past 50 can be a blast! Just follow this advice from an active angler who's pushing 80!
By Carol Martens
My First Boating Experience
What I’m about to share with you can keep you younger, healthier and even extend your life. It’s just my opinion but I bet many of you over 50 will agree and if you’re under 50 you have a lot to look forward to.
It’s hard to believe but I never rode in a bass boat until I was 46 years old when I bought one in 1988. My son Aaron was just 16 and became the official boat driver way before he drove a car. I was the designated truck driver and did all the towing. On a humorous note, until I drove the boat, Aaron had me convinced that driving the boat was harder than the truck. I was snookered! But I suppose the truck drivers get more exercise walking up and down the ramp and that could be another health advantage.
When we bought our boat, a guy named Hawk followed us to Lake Piru and showed us rookies the ropes. We knew nothing and for me to tow the boat on the freeways and up a long winding road to the lake had already stressed me to the limit. Hawk made us a check list of things to do before and after launch. After a month or so we didn’t have to use the list anymore.
My Latest Boo Boo
After 30 years of boating and towing one would think I’d never make a mistake, but they would be wrong. If you own your own boat, you know all matter of things can interrupt the flow of boat prep. The most obvious and common thing like putting in the plug. It usually happens when you’re in a hurry, or someone is trying to help, or talking to you. I consider myself a pro because I’ve learned what to do and not to do by trial and error. The basics for boating are to always plug in the charger when you get home, don’t let the boat or tow vehicle get too low on gas or oi,l and keep an eye on all those tires, bearings and brakes. It’s been rumored that people I know continue to run out of gas or have dead batteries on the lake. That can be devastating, especially during a tournament.
Awhile back I took my friend Liz to Castaic Lake with my boat. She also has a boat. So we take turns fishing in each other’s boats, and have become a great team after fishing together for over 20 years. For example, we can visit the bathroom, prepare the boat for launch and be on our first fishing spot within 20 minutes from the gate.
Well sir, this time everything was going perfect until Liz dropped me in the water and headed up to the parking lot. So why couldn’t I put my trim down? Was it broken? No matter how many times I hit the trim button nothing happened! On top of that I couldn’t steer the boat as I drifted towards the lifeguard boat. You probably figured out what I did before me because you’ve done it before? I failed to take the transom saver off! The prop is almost out of the water so navigation is impossible.
I quickly called Liz and fortunately she answered her cell phone. We have found out the hard way to always keep our phones with us when we launch each other. I told her to bring the truck back. Meanwhile Ike, the life guard who sits in his truck on the ramp, saw our dilemma and came over to help us. It just now occurred to me that he could have taken it off for me without the truck and trailer. I could have used my new handy dandy trolling motor and just backed the boat up shallow on the ramp and Ike could have removed the transom saver. How come no one thought of that?
We did it the hard way. You should have seen me with the trolling motor, Ike with a rope and Liz in the truck trying to take our directions. It took us over 10 minutes to hook up the boat and pull it out of the water so we could get the transom off and then relaunch. Remember if this ever happens to you just follow the paragraph I underlined above.
I thanked the life guard, Liz parked the truck and we had a great day from then on. A lesson learned for all of us.
One, Two Three or Five?
It did occur to me to suggest a simple formula for all of us so we can avoid these stupid situations and the aging stress that goes with it. Why not use a five step formula as you walk around the boat.
- Turn the power on.
- Put the plug in.
- Raise motor and take off transom saver
- Take tie downs off
- Unhook the front.
Just count to five!
Liz and I have an ongoing joke where we count to three for lots of things. It started when I rolled through a stop sign in the parking lot at a Castaic and a sheriff gave me and some others a scolding for not making a total stop. Liz told me we should always count to three to make a full stop, at least in California. The only ticket I’ve ever got while towing was doing the California Roll through a stop sign 30 years ago. So now we count to three at every stop sign and we find silly things to count to three, like how long it takes to get a fish to bite or how many times a careless driver changes lanes in front of us. We laugh a lot instead of getting mad.
You’ve heard testing 1,2,3 so just remember stopping 1,2,3! This tip could save you lots of money and keep you out of traffic school and the DMV.
Improving Your Health and Extending Your Life
Every day I thank God for my health and that I can still go fishing among some other things. I’ve noticed many people over 75 like me physically can’t do what I do.
What are some of the hidden benefits of boating? When we’re on a boat we are unconsciously keeping our balance. Good balance is one of the important things we need to maintain as we age. That’s why people go to Tai Chi and Yoga and stand on one leg or hold a warrior stand.
I would rather go fishing. In recent days I’ve come to realize I stand for 7 or 8 hours fishing and can even troll without the butt seat to lean on occasionally. For good health we know the importance of drinking water, using sun protection, sunglasses and a hat. It seems we eat less and healthier when we’re on the boat? Think about that.
You Sure Are Spry Grandma
I still go out by myself and do everything needed for a full day of fishing. I’m not bragging but I was 77 in July and my goal is to inspire you to not give in to the thinking that you’re too old to go boating or soon will be. Boating and fishing may be some of the tools that help keep you young and healthy.
Another important tip for everyone is to be cautious about jumping in or out of the boat. Ankles and knees can be easily damaged by one careless move. It takes a long time for a sprain to heal and it seems once you do it it’s easier to do again.
Last year at the US Open I avoided an injury as I jumped from a boat to a floating dock that was higher than the boat. I spontaneously rolled unto the dock like a football player and avoided injury, although I still laugh at how funny I looked!
Years ago my grandson Justin was watching me do all the things needed to back the truck down and put the boat on the trailer and he made the comment that I’ll never forget. “You sure are spry grandma!” What a compliment.
A few years ago my son Aaron said “you cast like an old lady” and I said “I am an old lady” We both had a laugh about that and sometimes I have to remind my sons how old I am if I fail to keep up with them. To this day my family enjoys fishing with me and they love my stamina, energy and enthusiasm.
How About You?
Ask yourself what’s better than spending time boating and fishing in the beautiful outdoors? It’s one of the places you can go and forget about work and your problems, and help fill our spiritual needs if we allow it.
If you don’t have a boat you might consider fishing as a non-boater in a local tournament circuit or being a Marshall for BASS or MLF. And there’s nothing wrong with fishing on shore and hiking around a lake. Why not start now? 1,2,3,GO!
Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
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