It’s a fun time of year. Good weather, great food, cold drinks, swimming, and most importantly, good fishing. ‘Merica day is fast approaching. The 4th of July brings with it all sorts of the above listed, positive connotations. However, it only takes one moment for that to change. The tips below, if followed, should provide you with a care-free, fun holiday weekend.
With all the boat and vehicle traffic during this holiday, we fishermen need to watch out for each other. Help fellow fisherman and boaters at the ramp to speed things up. If the process is taking longer than expected, take a breath and relax. All too many people get riled up and emotions run rampant. Be kind, thoughtful, and patient. Not everyone can back a trailer as quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly as you can. Take your time, too. Accidents, mistakes, and other bad things happen when people are in a hurry to get somewhere, or do something. Be smart, stay calm, and be thorough.
Law enforcement of all types will be on the hunt this weekend. Have all necessary equipment at the ready. You never know when you will need a fire extinguisher, so make sure yours is charged and secured in your boat. Have enough, usable life jackets/PFDs in the boat, as well as a throwable PFD out and ready to toss. If you plan on fishing (obviously you do), make sure you have proper licensing. Check for aquatic hitchhikers, drain your livewells and boats, and pull all vegetation from your trailer and boat upon exit and before reentrance.
Do not drink and drive. This never ends up good for anyone. The ramifications of such a decision can be life changing, or threatening. Your choice to drink and drive doesn’t just affect you, but anyone you may come across in the meantime. The same rules apply (generally speaking) to boats as they do automobiles. Just because you are driving on the water doesn’t mean you are allowed a beer.
Sorry to say it (not really), but the idiots are out this time of year. As a boater, as well as a driver, you need to navigate defensively. It isn’t all that surprising how many watercraft owners don’t know how to properly and safely operate their watercraft. If there was a weekend for these operators to do their worst damage, this is it. Be safe, wear your lifejacket, hook up your kill switch, and keep speed to a minimum when possible. With all the boats on the water this weekend, waves will be prominent, even if there is no wind. Try to quarter waves when possible, otherwise take it slow.
The 4th of July is a fun time. However, if you don’t stay alert, aren’t properly prepared, or become enraged by the group of teenagers trying to back that Malibu down the ramp, it won’t be fun. Chill out and plan ahead and this 4th of July will be the best one yet. God bless America.