Mark Zona: The Calm Before The Storm


"The most stupid thing to do is challenge a storm"

A lot of things have happened weather wise this year – floods, tornadoes, thunder and lightening: Every bit of it becoming more of a way of life than the occasional nasty day.

I’ve had a lot of nasty days in the last few decades. A long, long, long time ago when I moved from Chicago to Southwest Michigan, I remember fishing a Thursday night tournament near Coldwater. There were probably 30 to 40 boats in this tournament and it was a little three-hour deal (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

The amazing thing that I’ll never forget about it: It was so calm you could not see a single leaf in the trees moving. And when it started we were catching fish on every cast.

It didn’t matter if you were shallow or deep, fast or slow, on every cast we were reeling in a 3-pounder. All the while we knew it was the calm before the storm, literally.

At any minute we were about to get absolutely crushed with a storm that night. But stupidity and lack of respect kept us out there fishing. I’ll never forget that night just because it was like you could do no wrong.

Then the calm ended. In a blink of an eye, the storm hit us. It sounded like a freight train coming across that lake. I remember staring in the back of the boat and this lake going from an absolute sheet of glass to a little inland Michigan lake that had 4-foot swells on it.

It was so loud that the guy I was fishing with was screaming at me to get the boat to shore but I could not hear him. Later we learned a tornado had touched down during the first 45 minutes of the tournament.

I always think back to that. During those 45 minutes is when I started to learn the word respect on the water. The number one thing to respect on the water is Mother Nature. No matter how big and bad our boats and motors are these days they’re not bigger and they’re not badder than anything that Mother Nature can throw at us.

I had to relearn that a few times. I remember being out on Lake Erie and actually challenging a storm as it rolled in. The fish weren’t biting. So I would make a long run somewhere, all the while watching the approaching storm.

In times like that I would try to time it to where I could start the motor and run back to the mainland as fast as I could. It worked once or twice. Then I got caught out in that storm. That’s where you absolutely need to respect everything that comes at you on the water when it pertains to weather.

The most stupid thing in the world is to challenge a storm whether you’re on a 100-acre lake, a 1000-acre lake or a 10,000-acre lake you can’t win challenging the weather.

Whenever I would challenge a storm stupidly, I would always look at my outboard and say, “man just start, just be there for me.”

This is not a goofy sales pitch. Having BoatUS towing services for all those “what ifs” can end up saving your life. We all have a tendency to push it a little too far when it comes to weather.

I don’t anymore but it’s good to have a phone number you can call if something does happen out there.

Click for Mark Zona's Blog Mark Zona

BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff member, Bassmaster Series co- host, and host of "Zona's Awesome Fishing Show"