By Steve Chaconas
We’ve seen it on the highway, and now on waterways…road rage has a companion, BOAT RAGE. We just need to share the water and treat others as we would like to be treated.
Tournament anglers are targeted as the biggest offenders. Tournaments provide a venue and showcase for everything from boats to tackle. Without tournaments, some guys wouldn’t even get out of bed on a Saturday morning for fear that their wife would have them work around the house.
Are bass boat offenders aware of what they are doing, or do they just not care? Whatever the case, exercise caution, as we live in dangerous times. You never know what someone will do when confronted.
Being out on the water is supposed to be relaxing, but we aren’t alone. Waterways are even more crowded since the war on terrorism. Families have opted for close-to-home activities. Boating has become the choice for many. But boating experience is in short supply. Many states now require a safe boating course. But these lessons do not include actual boating instruction. It’s a learn as you go proposition. In fact, a bass boater like other boaters can purchase a boat, take the keys and hit the water without any training! This inexperience is adding fuel to the boat rage fire.
Bass boaters are not the only ones falling prey to their behavior, however they are the most visible because they are in glittery boats that only slow down to fish every once in a while. With enormous outboards and sleek design, many on the water suffer from horsepower envy. Being passed gets the water boiling and tempers flaring. Perhaps the boats are an extension of ego.
In addition, the number of tournaments has reached the out of control stage. This “industry” has taken over the Potomac and many other waterways.There are tournaments on just about every weekend from March into December, sometimes more than one on Saturday and Sunday! This means hundreds of bass boaters are flying up and down the river at speeds of 50-75 MPH.
For some bass boaters, the rage doesn’t begin on the road, but at the ramp. Fishermen on their way to their favorite hole don’t have the patience to wait for other boaters to launch. Rather than offering assistance, they demonstrate their impatience with comments or even gestures.This activity is repeated when returning to the ramp as well. Some say inexperienced boat launchers should practice elsewhere rather than impeding launches.
Impatience increases as outboards race to and through crowded waterways. Most boaters haven’t a clue how to approach or overtake another vessel and use speed to compensate and dominate. Taking the shortest distance between two points, bass boaters cross channels, and flats alike to their destinations. No craft is too large or too small to outrun for the bass boater. They have the need for speed and the horses to prove it.
Boats don’t have rear view mirrors. The boater you are about to pass can’t see you. You don’t know what he will do…he doesn’t even know you are there. A close call is too close! Too many bass boaters drive aggressively with little regard for your safety or theirs.
No wake zones, courteous boating, rules of the road are for the other guys. We are bass fishermen. Fishing too close to another boater or even to someone fishing from the bank. Hey, we are in a tournament! Can’t you see my livewell check ribbon?!
Like reckless drivers on the highway, reckless boaters, who place others in danger because of self-imposed demands or deadlines is just plain unacceptable. It’s also illegal. Mariners who are caught operating their vessels in a reckless manner are subject to both state and federal law. The State of Virginia is very specific in their “Boat Virginia” booklet: “Reckless operation of a boat or Personal Watercraft (PWC) is illegal in Virginia. Reckless operation is defined as the failure to exercise care necessary to prevent the endangerment of life, limb, or property of any other person.”
Not to mention not wearing personal floatation devices. Some angler boaters are have opted for the auto inflatable devices. These light weight life savers are supposed, key word, supposed to inflate when contacting the water. Some inflate in the rain or in storage boxes. Whether or not they open is irrelevant if not worn. However, will these will work when they are supposed to? Better and more comfortable life jackets properly are replacing the auto inflatables. These too are only effective when worn.
Bottom line, it’s behavior of a few leaving a bad taste. Perception is reality and the perception of bass boaters is that they are reckless and discourteous. It’s up to all of us to change this.
Potomac River Bassing in May
May flowers bring bass in pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn in shallow water.
The best moving bait is Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbait. Tie to 12 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line spooled on a Quantum Smoke HD reel. Cast to wood cover and shallow grass. The key is to be close to cover.
Mann’s Classic spinnerbait on the same line and reel are best when water is a bit stained, skies are overcast, and there’s a bit of chop on the water. Slowly work the bait bouncing off wood and snapping free from grass.
Time for chatter jigs and swim jigs on 14 pound test Edge. Several good colors: black/blue, crawfish patterns and shad. With chatterjigs, swim over cover making contact. For swim jigs, crawl through grass and pop free, allowing baits to fall. Using Jack’s Juice Bait Spray will encourage fish to hold on longer.
Texas rigged Mizmo tubes on Mustad 3/0 Mega Bite hooks are good to pitch to grass clumps and wood targets. Dropshot with 1/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks with 3/16 BullShot weights.
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatUS.com. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.