Boats, Bass and Crappie…..

“If it flies or floats, rent it, don’t buy it” the immortal words of some poor pilot who doubled as a water sport enthusiast on weekends. (My closest old friends know that I add another concept to be rented rather than bought, not suitable for print!) This past week I attended a small, by today’s standards, boat show where boat peddlers offered deals on the industry’s latest proffering. Over the course of my journey through life, I have acquired too many firearms, too many boats and far too many automobiles and trucks. Each was and is a passion and while I still love vehicles, arthritis has slowly distanced me from hand gunning and boats. The boat show, and my lustful leering at some of the latest floating technology stimulated a review of the what and why of boats. Sharon was carefully monitoring my thought processes for any sign that I was thinking purchase as opposed to admiring. She is pretty good at that!

A summary statement on the subject of boats is easy. They permit you to fly up and down a lake in pursuit of one of the greatest delicacies known to man, crappie. To test your competitive drive, bass offer a world class challenge and change of pace, but I would not class them as a delicacy. I have not put a knife to a bass in many years, instead I fight with them, poke holes in their lips and turn them back to do bass things. I have owned 10 bass boats, 1 johnboat, and 1 pontoon boat. A brand review would reveal Fisher, Ozark, 2 Rangers, 3 Champions, 1 Xpress, a Javelin and a Triton. My inventory today is limited to an Osagian canoe and a couple of “Botes” we have yet to pick up in Florida. The Botes are inflatables, designed for lazy drifts down our beautiful rivers. My total boat experience is paltry when you consider there have been just under 300 bass boat manufacturers in America, many of which are still in production, and I personally know about so few of them.

Mr. Ranger, my last boat.

What has this experience taught me? First, a boat is simply a hole in the water that you fish out of. Secondly, I have yet to see a fish of any description indicate a boat brand preference. Next up, boats feed an addiction for fishing equipment that has more than kept up with inflation. The 50 buck reels of 1975 are easily 300 bucks today. Baits that you hid from your wife at a couple of dollars apiece are well over 10 dollars today, with “swim baits” hand painted replicas of bluegill, going for 50 dollars apiece at the show. When I reduced my lure and tackle inventory earlier this year in a garage sale, I needed a shot of Shanky’s Irish Whiskey to keep from crying over my return on investment. With whisky bolstered courage, I remarked to Sharon that it was better to spend on tackle than frequent a tavern nightly. I am not sure she agreed as her gaze passed over the outlay for sale.

In the end, you can’t put a price on the sound of a transom slapping the water on a ramp at daybreak when the crappie are on the bank. The conversations with friends deep in a Truman Lake cove and the anticipation of that tap that signals a fish who has let his appetite override his desire to avoid a cooker full of hot peanut oil, is priceless. Deer on a bank, carefully watching you or an old momma goose in a broken snag scolding you for getting too close to her brood cannot be valued in monetary terms. The sound of an Evinrude or Mercury coughing to life is sweeter than a violin virtuoso at a concert, but only to the ears of a boat owner and outdoorsman. Arthritis has taken a rod out of my hand for all but a few hours at a time, but it has done nothing to clear the memories of hours in a boat and a beautiful, blue backed crappie coming over the side. An occasional boat race was icing on the cake for a guy who considers the smell of an old two stroke oil burner sweeter than that of cologne on a prom queens neck.

If the Lord granted me a mulligan, I would find another blood red Champion with a big Merc on the transom and head to the ramp, rods carefully arranged on the deck, with a friend worthy of the experience. We didn’t know what we had then……..and that is a sin. To my younger friends, don’t get so busy with life, you don’t take time to live along the way. You’ll get old one day, God willing, and today is what you’ll have to remind you of your life in review. Will you smile or frown?

Make it a smile.

Have a good week…..



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