"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Boating Safety For Anglers
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres

In the spring, the old folks say, a young man’s fancy – older fellows, too – lightly turns to thoughts . . . of fishing. Unfortunately, the young men . . . and the older anglers . . . continue to unfurl their angling talents by flouting (on television and just plain angling) their manliness by breaking many of the storied safety rules.

Last week, for example – and at many other times in the past – I have watched television fishing productions in which the “professional” anglers caught fish after fish (this is no doubt rigged in many ways) when there was not a PFD (personal floatation device) even obvious in the boat, and certainly not on the angler.

It should be said, however, that this is not a breach of the law. It is a classic example of the fact we should “do as they say, not as they do.” The law only requires that those less than 13 years old WEAR a PFD (personal floatation device) on lake Michigan and the Ohio River.

I don’t think this is the kind of image we/they should be teaching young anglers, all the more so when the Indiana Division of Enforcement is putting fourth a tremendous effort to curb boating accidents.

That phase of flaunting boat safety concepts is bad enough, but there are other breaches of the unwritten rules of safe boating that the young people are unconsciously sopping up from watching supposed heroes.

Worst of the lot, of course, is the bravado angler who stands on a flat deck at gunnel level to fish, breaking the old standard of “never standing in a boat,” especially when the most solid object the angler is touching is the handle of a fishing rod.

The manufacturers of bass boats must shoulder part of the responsibility because they manufacture boats that are to be used in this manner.

Maybe Rocky Hauck and I (as a kid) turned the first fishing boat I ever saw into such a contraption. If so, I regret it. But with a wooden kitchen chair rigged as a front-seat (Conning Tower) for bassin’, we may have started a fad that has turned into several million-dollar businesses that teach our youth the basics of accidents waiting to happen. 

Some brave anglers circumvent this measure by parking their posteriors on a three-foot high seat when a sudden side-way movement of a boat could put a kid into a shallow orbit.

This department does not spend a lot of time passing out kudos for DNR personnel. I figure they are doing what we pay them to do. But Col. Mike Crider’s Division of Enforcement is doing a great job of fighting boating accidents. We should help them more by adopting the practice of WEARING a PFD any time we are in a boat on the water.

ON SQUIRRELS – I am getting a few reports of squirrels feeding on maple buds and the buds of some other trees. This is caused by a scarcity of hickory nuts, black walnuts and acorns from various species of oak. The seeds of most other trees and shrubs are gone for the most part and will not be available until summer or early fall. Tree buds seem to be the earliest forms of food. As the buds develop, they will be less desirable as a food source and squirrels will turn to the bark of beech and some other species of trees.   

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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