Use Your Head
5/31/2011

Now look, I think of myself as a pretty tough dude. I mean after all you know, I did take shop class in a public high school in Chicago; in my mind believing I was the annoying rebel John Bender from the movie The Breakfast Club.

Rarely ever am I serious, but there’s something that’s been bothering me lately -- heavy on my mind. Two words: Severe Weather.

You see, back in my “John Bender days” I never learned what it meant to “respect the weather.” But lately, I’ve learned to respect it greatly. Because bud, you don’t need to look any further back in history than this past Sunday when tornados tore through Minneapolis and Joplin, and you realize it only takes two seconds to turn your day into a tragedy.

Imagine what it would have been like to be caught off guard in a bass boat on Lake Minnetonka. Or for that matter, Grand Lake, Oklahoma, where a tornado was actually photographed over the water, 50 miles down the interstate from Joplin.

I can tell you this, last month Tommy Sanders, James Overstreet and I were on Toledo Bend when the wind picked up throughout the day to eventually form huge waves. While Sanders and J.O. know I have experience driving in big water on the Great Lakes – it was still scary. You see just because you have a 250-horse outboard, doesn’t make you a NASCAR driver, there’s nothing cool about running a bass boat through giant waves.

Guys, all I’m saying is use your head. Tragedy happens on the water -- especially during severe weather. Gordon Lightofoot’s tune “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” isn’t a power ballad. It’s about a 729-foot freighter sinking in 20-foot waves on Lake Superior. So don’t think your 20-feet of fiberglass and big outboard are going to save you.

Study the forecast in detail before you ever launch your boat. Carry a weather radio to track what’s coming at you throughout the day. And heaven forbid, if somehow you still get caught off-guard, seek shelter if at all possible rather than trying to pilot your way through huge waves and severe weather.

Buying a very affordable membership to BoatUS Angler can deliver a lot of peace-of-mind and help you get out of a lot of jams on the road and on the water. Like for example, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had that very lonely “what-if” feeling out there riding 4-footers, catching smallmouth around Pelee Island on Erie, and thinking “man I sure hope my motor starts when I’m ready to stop fishin’ and head back in.” It would have been good knowing back then that BoatUS had my back if I needed them.

But really you need to avoid getting into a jam in the first place, and much of that has to do with taking care of your equipment and respecting the weather. Until we talk again, please be safe.


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